Earlier this year, we started hiring for another writer. We’ve been very transparent about our hiring process, and we wanted to continue that – both for applicants and for other interested parties. Here’s where we are now.
Writing jobs in games get a lot of applications, and it’s hard to filter quality – so we applied a set of strict criteria to applications. As we’d expected, we got a few people who applied despite not meeting the criteria. These ranged from time-wasting to heart-breaking, but our firm position was: if someone couldn’t write publishable interactive narrative before applying, they likely couldn’t after applying. And if they couldn’t write something like that, they couldn’t do the job.
Once we’d got that far, we weeded out a good many candidates who satisfied the basic criteria but just weren’t as good a match as some of the others. That left 25 candidates.
We contacted all those and offered them a test piece to write. (If you’re curious, it’s here.) It’s not a big piece, and we placed an upper limit on size – but we still expected about half the remaining candidates to drop out, procrastinate, or provide something broken. A dozen solid candidates would still be plenty.
As it happened, all but one of the applicants submitted a suitable test piece – leaving us with 24 pieces to review before the New Year. Eep! Honestly, this was a mixed blessing – it is great that we have so many credible folk who want to work here, but it’s a lot of work for a small team to review, and we are going to end up saying no to people who we like, however this pans out.
What we’re doing now is the next step. Each person in the content team here is reviewing each test piece independently, to compare marks at the end. What we’re reviewing –
- Engineering – how effectively does someone use the interactive, responsive mode?
- Prose technique – how competently can they bang words together?
- Setting & voice – how well have they understood and captured the tone of our franchise?
- Spark - this is subjective, but we agreed we needed a way to flag when someone feels like they have an individual voice, an unusual talent, an evocative element to their work.
and finally we added a ‘faults’ column – in case someone’s work is sloppy, buggy or otherwise has issues worth flagging, but scores highly on the points above otherwise. Bad habits can be corrected, but talent and hard work can’t be trained in.
In January we’ll reconvene and talk about (i) clear leaders (ii) cases where we violently disagree. At that point, we’ll narrow it down to a handful of candidates and invite them to interview.
It’s a lot of work, but it’s very rewarding to see the many different directions people are coming from – I’m looking forward to it!