Etiquette. It may seem old fashioned, and maybe some of the ways that etiquette is thought of are antiquated, but there is still a reason why it is around. Etiquette here at Insomniac Games includes “Coffee Etiquette”… if you finish the pot, you start another one. If you are the person brewing the coffee, you get the first cup, plain and simple. We have people here who want to set up a coffee-cam to shame those who do not abide by these rules…. But I think that may be taking it a bit far… but just maybe. There are also certain ways to handle situations, certain standards that should be considered when job hunting, interviewing and finally accepting (or declining) an offer as well, and that is where this blog comes in handy! Since I meet with most of the candidates who come in to the Burbank office, I run into a lot of questions about what to do for an interview, what to wear, how early is too early, what is too formal, what is too casual, and what is expected? The examples and answers that I am going to share are clearly from an Insomniac perspective, but I think the major thread will be applicable for other studios, and publishers, etc. So let’s jump in and work on avoiding those embarrassing faux pas!
“What should I wear to the interview?” I get this question a lot! We ride a fine line between the old school knowledge of a suit and tie, and then the reality that we are a creative entity and one that rejects the “corporateness” of said attire. My best answer is this: know your audience. If you are meeting with an Indi developer – be comfortable. Be clean, be presentable- jeans are going to be fine but not if they are ripped, dirty, or sitting below your hips. I would always recommend wearing shoes as opposed to flip-flops. T-shirts are fine, as well as any other shirt- just make it clean (ie – no naked ladies, no curse words, and no holes). And in my opinion skip the tie, though if you are meeting with any of the business arms of the company (finance, marketing, PR, etc) you may want to step it up a notch… but I will say it’s been a while since I have been at one of those BIG companies – so take that with a grain of salt.
How early should I be to an interview? There was actually an article on this the other day on Yahoo news…they say no more than 15 minutes early. I agree. There is such a thing as getting to a place too early. We want you to be prompt, ready, paperwork filled out, and ready to roll, but we also don’t want you to be sitting for hours in our lobby. We love to see you – but our front office person does have things to do. The 15 minute window is the perfect amount of time to have all this happen, to get you a drink, and get you settled in a conference room or office, and then start the interview on time. If you arrive super early, relax in your car, drive around the block, and see what is around the office… check out the area. If you are going to be late- you should also call. Even one minute late warrants a call. It shows that you know time is valuable, and that you are taking this seriously. Good communication skills are a huge plus for anyone- so put them to use!
Can you be too casual in an interview? Ummm the simple answer is yes! We work in a creative environment and business, but this is still a business. Slouching in your chair, chewing on gum, pen caps or your fingers is not the person I want to see in an interview. We want the interview to be a dialogue, a big conversation – it’s not meant to be an interrogation, but this is an interview. You want to be putting your best foot/feet forward. Remember you are interviewing us – just as much as we are interviewing you. So relax, but be your BEST relaxed self.
How to close an interview? I think candidates get nervous about how to finish an interview. What questions can you ask? What should you ask? I think that you should have a couple of questions prepared for the recruiter/ HR rep that you meet with. Ask them what the time frame is on the position- are they filling right away or are there tons of candidates yet to meet and process, is the hiring manager going out of town and the decision will not be made for two weeks? What are the next steps- should you as a candidate prep your references? Should you be expecting another round of interviews? Is there a background check? These are things that give you an idea of what to expect or not expect. The more in control of the process you feel the better. We are talking about your next career move- right?
And on that note- we close this edition of Baker’s Dozen… There will be a part deux – that deals with thanks you notes vs. emails, offers- either accepting or declining, and how to make the whole experience fun… ok maybe not that – but we will follow up.