Hiring in Game Development with Marc Boutin, An Interview
Getting hired is hard, you and I both know it. Getting hired in games can seem like a nigh-impossible task at times, and that's why I interviewed Marc Boutin, a Boston-based Talent Acquisition & HR professional with 10 years experience, most recently in the video game industry which he has been actively hiring in for the past 3 years. He answered some questions I had about hiring and getting hired in our industry, and he has graciously provided some insights he has gained over his career and agreed to share them with you! Marc, thank you for all you've done to help me and the world at large understand hiring and recruiting in games a little better :)
What positions have you hired for?
Marc: So I'm a General Recruiter which means I hire everything and at all levels! Across my time in video games I've hired Artists, Engineers/Programmers, Designers, QA Professionals, Producers, Product Managers, Data Analysts, Community Professionals, Marketing Professionals, Player Support Professionals, IT Professionals, Office Managers, and other HR/Recruitment Staff. That should be a pretty comprehensive list however I will say my focus has shifted more to Design and Engineering as of late. I have hired an even broader repertoire of roles if I went into my time hiring in Academia but that would take quite a bit longer to go over.
Once you knew what your project required, how did you go about looking for the perfect candidate? (If you hired for multiple fields, pick your favorite one)
Marc: I think it's important to note that the needs of any project aren't the only things to consider when hiring. While the needs of the project are important it's equally important to define the needs of the department/pod/hiring manager and try to meet those. While the needs of the project are pretty cut and dry (we need X developers to hit support this) I usually speak with the hiring manager to suss out the other needs, negotiating the needs of both is what makes hiring so challenging and consequently rewarding. I like to approach managers with the idea that the "perfect candidate" doesn't exist, instead I challeneg them to find someone that not only fits what they specifically need but also levels up their team and culture. Coming into hiring with an open mind as to what your future hire's background looks like is the best way to combat bias.
Is a dedicated budget set aside for hiring someone? (Time to hire, jobs website fees, conference trips, etc.)
Marc: Yes! Typically companies will set aside a budget for advertising each position specifically and then a separate budget for hiring events like conferences or career fairs. Time is harder to budget, it's more like a goal to bring someone in with enough time to onboard them to be effective with development goals, which we can pivot on should things unfold in an unpredictable way.
What criteria did you look for specifically in a candidate?
Marc: It depends on the role I'm hiring for but generally an awareness that game development is a collaborative process and we are in it together is a great energy to present.
Is there anything in the current-day resume that you feel is unnecessary?
Marc: Not really, resumes are a place to tell your story so I advise a lot of people to just be sure to include the things that help you present a cohesive narrative on why you're an excellent candidate for the position you're applying for.
Is there anything you *want* to see in a resume?
Marc: I like seeing illustrated connections between a candidate's experience and skill sets; I don't just want to see where you were and what you did but also what you learned. If you can effectively articulate your potential as a hire based on what you've learned so far it tells me that you could be someone with a huge longevity and large positive impact at my studio/company.
Is there anything you *don't* want to see in a resume?
Marc: Name-drops. It's awesome you got to work with those people, but I'm more interested in seeing what you learned from them and can bring to the table.
How did you find the candidate you eventually hired for the position you were seeking to fill? Marc: This is hard to answer because it's pretty broad but for every position it usually boils down to careful assessment of application materials in their entirety and really getting into the nitty gritty of the content and skills of the applicant to ensure they fit the needs presented to me.
How long did it take to take the candidate from initial discovery to contract signing to your company?
Marc: Depends! Some positions can be open and closed within 3 weeks and others can take a few months. The biggest indicator on length of time is complexity of the tech skills needed for a role and the seniority as well.
Was there a period of training for your new employee? If so, what time budget was set aside to bring them up to speed?
Marc: My personal opinion is that it takes an employee 1 year to fully onboard and acclimate to a role, they can certainly contribute before the 1 year mark but their full ability to contribute won't manifest until they feel comfortable in their role which typically takes a year. For specific training for new employees it can vary from studio to studio but a lot is focused within the first 90 days. The budget, per se, is more investments in building programs and resources to support new folks, hard to pin down as there's a lot of variability between studios.
What's a question you wish more applicants asked you at the interview stage?
Marc: Ask how you and the interviewer will be working together. Getting a sense of how closely you and the folks you're speaking with will give you a more holistic idea of the processes for the studio you're getting into. Also, don't be afraid to ask every person you interview with the same set of questions, seeing if their answers align will tell you a lot about the studio.