Part Deux for Etiquette 101


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Last time I talked about etiquette for interviewing.   Topics were – what to wear, how early is “too early”, etc.  In my follow up  – I’d like to put my two cents in on some other  tips/tricks/nuggets of info that might be helful.  As I mentioned last time – this is purely from my standpoint, and what flies here at Insomniac Games.  What happens here may not be the ideal for someplace else, but I would say that the main ideals are pretty common.  So let’s jump into this!

The “Thank You” note vs. email: I have to be honest in that this is actually a point of conversation in our HR dept on a regular basis.  I am a believer in the email – it’s the way most people communicate these days.  It can be sent rapidly, and then sent on to several individuals at the same time.  My boss- on the other hand is a fan of the hand written note.  Her thought is that it shows that you care enough to take the time to personally write out the note, and send your thanks.  I think both have valid points. I will not reject either.  The point here is – send one.  Do one or the other- but do one.  To come in and take at least 45 minutes of several peoples day is something to say “thanks” for.  It’s polite and shows that you know it’s a big commitment on everyone’s part to interview and make the right choice for a hire.  It also demonstrates that you’re interested and gives you a chance to express why you think you’re the right hire.  So send something to say “thanks for taking the time to meet with me”…either electronically, sky writing, smoke signals, pony express or the good old USPS.

How to accept or decline an offer: This one seems like a no brainer – either you are going to take the job with a “yes!” or you are going to decline with a polite “thanks but no thanks”… or so you think.  I am shocked at how complicated this step has become.   First – ask as many questions as you like- if you are serious about the job.  If you’re not accepting on the spot – be clear in your questions – “I have a few questions on relocation – can you explain the following…” or “I have a question on how your benefit plan works.”   This is a big step and we want you to make the right one – but please, please be straightforward.   We want this to be the right choice for the studio and for you.  Be clear in your acceptance – “yes” is always a good one – no “well.. ummm…. I guess” or “sounds good”… or “I think so”.  This is an opportunity to show us the great communication skills that you possess.  It is perfectly acceptable to say “I’d like to think about this for day or two – and if I have any questions – I will let you know.”  Clear and to the point.  If you know the position is not for you – that’s ok too – and the sooner we know the better for everyone.  If you are interviewing at multiple places, weighing your options, we get it – just tell us and get back to us.  Disappearing into the ether is not a great way to decline a spot.  It tends to leave a bad taste in everyone’s mouth not to mention our desire to call 911 to make sure you’re ok.    A simple “Thanks for the opportunity, but at this time, it’s just not the right spot for me” is enough.  If calling and declining freaks you out – send an email, or leave a voicemail at 3:00 am… at least you are letting us know, and we can move on to the other candidates.

Following Up vs. Stalking: There is a fine line between the two  – and one that you want to make sure you are on the “just following up” side as opposed to having me put your name out to security.   It’s certainly acceptable to get contact info of the HR person or the person in charge of the interview process to follow up and touch base.  It’s fine to ask a timeframe for filling the position, and if there are other candidates in process.  It is not Ok to call every day of the week – checking in on your status, or to send emails to everyone who interviewed you asking if a decision has been made.  Sometimes things happen – the hiring manager goes on vacation or the project hits a critical spot and it takes a bit longer for us to get to the decision point.  The thing is – desperation does smell- and it’s not a good smell either.  If we’ve interviewed you, we will get back to you.  Promise.  And more often than not – more sooner than later.  We know it’s not polite to keep you waiting or guessing and we do our best to move relatively quickly.

And Finally….

Enjoy the Experience: This one might be easier said than done – but it should happen.  This is an exciting process to go through, where you get to meet interesting people, and have exciting conversations about what you are passionate about – video games!  The process should be better than a root canal by a long shot!  It is a serious one – don’t get me wrong – as it’s a big step to hire someone – but it should be more about a dialogue and an exchange of ideas, than say the Spanish Inquisition.  Relax, breathe, and be yourself.  We want to meet you, and see you in action, not the “interview persona” but the best version of you.

Until next time….

  • sarienn

    This is a great post which solidifies my good impression about Insomniac as a company , so I would like to thank you for it!

    I do hope there are many game studios out there who have a similar recruiting mindset like Insomniac does. I am looking forward for the third chapter of the Insomniac Etiquette, where I hope you’ll be able to detail the pro-activity and question set you expect and appreciate from a candidate, as well as some insights about what you do to check the candidate’s background, if possible. I’d be curious to know how much time you invest before deciding to set up an interview with someone, and how much time is spent after the interview has taken place.

    Once again, thank you!

  • http://xxdream-with-mexx.deviantart.com xXdream-with-meXx

    Lots of help and awesome article! This really helped me in understanding what I need to do and not do in an interview and the coffee part was a nice example! This makes me feel much better about wanting to be interviewed for a job by you guys sometime in the future.
    Thanks for the amazing post!