Games talent is at a premium.
by Amar Patel
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Whilst there will always be movement in the Games Programming market, and experienced coders looking for new challenges, one of the biggest concerns at the moment is not so much a shortage of quality candidates, rather that too many are dropping out of the recruitment process having initially been fully vested in it.
There are some games studios who make instant decisions about hiring people following a single Skype call, and others who require a minimum of a phone-call, two separate technical tests, a studio visit, and a very long wait in between!
More often than not, I’ve found that the businesses that separate their process into several stages (3 or more) taking over a month from start to finish, will lose out on the best candidates on the market. And lose out in a big way, as they’ll inevitably join one of their competitors, and not become available for a new job for what can be many years thereafter.
So, how could you speed up your recruitment process without taking unnecessary risks and relinquishing control over the outcome?
With so many spinning plates at any one time, sometimes the momentum can stall and what candidates thought would only take a few weeks ends up taking months (and occasionally even then turning out to be a rejection!).
Whilst it’s important to have some formal structure to your screening process, it may require just a few tweaks to get to the end stages a lot more efficiently and with a satisfactory outcome for both parties. Here are a few tips:
This doesn’t mean offering them the job halfway through the first interview. It can simply mean letting them know that you like them, that you felt it was a positive meeting, and you’ll formalise your thoughts in writing within an agreed timeframe so that they can manage their expectations.
Sometimes this can involve a gathering of thoughts with fellow hiring managers, to ensure that you’re all in agreement on how best to move forward, and in these cases a day or two after the first interview before expressing your interest is understandable – any longer, and you can safely assume that the candidate has booked other interviews by now.
Keeping Recruiters in the loop is also key, as they are the ones who have fully qualified the candidates and know where their best interests lie, therefore being in a great position to let you know the candidate’s thoughts of your company and how they felt that first interview went.
This leads onto the second point…
It’s a small thing but it goes a long way.
Contrary to popular belief, it’s not all about the big sell from a Recruiter’s point of view. Yes, they are tasked with promoting your company and talking to candidates upfront about your competitive packages, exciting projects, etc., but when it comes to interviews and feedback, cold hard facts are always best.
The more familiar the Recruiter is with your time-scales, the more realistic the candidate’s expectations can be, and they can then weigh up when and how to request feedback or arrange second/final interviews.
Aside from the Recruiter getting a bad name in the industry for providing inaccurate waiting times for good candidates, it will eventually land on your doorstep as the interviewer, and a poor reputation can be ill afforded in such a relatively small people network like Games.
It’s worth arranging weekly catch-up calls with Recruiter’s (if you haven’t done so already) to provide feedback and give them a recap of events during the week, that they can then go and pass onto respective candidates.
The last thing that you want is a candidate coming away from an interview with an initially positive opinion of your company, and that image being slowly eroded over the weeks as their onboarding process with you comes to a grinding halt for lack of clear feedback. The knock-on effect is unthinkable – one bad word from a disgruntled, disillusioned candidate could have serious consequences for any future hires you would be looking to make.
Keeping things short and sweet with good candidates for your urgent vacancies pays dividends in the end. You can probably imagine the number of top Programmers (5+ years’ industry experience) I’ve been helping out, who have an almost quizzical look when they’re sent through a coding test aimed at Juniors/Graduates.
A lot of these candidates barely have the time to look through a test during the weekdays outside of their existing working hours, let alone negotiate mathematical problems that they last dealt with during their University days!
Mutual respect goes a long way – if possible, try to clear an hour or two from your diaries and invite them in for a discussion based interview as a first (and final if necessary) stage. In my experience so far, it’s the best way to get an accurate gauge on what they bring to the table, and whether they are a great cultural fit for your studio.
This also gives you the vital edge over your competitors, as it’s your chance impress upon the candidate their potential working environment while they’re on-site, people that they’d be collaborating with, and what they can realistically expect on a daily basis if offered the job.
From what I’ve seen, the studios and companies that make the most of their recruitment process have focussed and refined on the above 3 points, and have reaped the rewards.
At the end of the day, a long-winded process is a huge waste of your valuable time and resources, with no end product to show for it! Work smart, not hard, right?