How to Hire Your First Employee

outsourcing hiring first employee

Outsourcing is one of the most popular ways to hire an artist, coder or both. Using the right strategy, you can hire talented people from outsource sites to create games for you and jump start your business. There are multiple outsourcing websites available online that you can use. When you’re hiring your first employee, outsourcing is a cost effective method. Personally, I’ve used nearly every outsource site available during the beginning stages of my game business.

The following sites have great support and a fairly large database of programmers, artists and designers:

Outsourcing 101: Writing the Ad

Once you’ve selected the outsource site that you want to use, you’ll need to create an ad. Here are some tips to help you craft ads that will attract the right type of employee:

  1. Write ads quickly – You’re about to see a very common thread in all of this: Don’t get bogged down and move quickly.  This starts with the ad.  Keep your ads short and sweet. Avoid discussing in-depth project details. Instead focus on the fact that the project is unique and discuss the core details.  Try to write your ad in one pass. Take about 5-6 minutes to do this. Review and edit if needed.
  2. Don’t search for people, wait for them to come to you – This reason is simple… people that respond to your ad are hungry for work and interested in what you are doing.  Random people you contact probably are not.
  3. Post multiple ads – Post on multiple sites and post multiple times.  Sometimes you’ll need to post 10 ads before hiring someone. Most of the time when someone is having problems with hiring, they’ve only posted just a few ads.  Think about it this way. If every time you hire someone you go through 200 applicants and someone else goes through 20, who do you think will end up with the best guy?
  4. Always go with your gut – If someone doesn’t reply quick enough, gives a strange answer or just doesn’t make you feel comfortable, then don’t hire them. If you automatically just “click” with someone, then you might want to give them a shot. Your gut is extremely important in the hiring decision.
  5. Move quickly though applicants – It’s better to scan 200 people quickly than review 20 people slowly. Don’t get bogged down on each one. One tip is to ask a few questions, if all questions aren’t answered then skip immediately. If they don’t take the time to apply correctly, they most likely will not benefit your business.

hiring via outsourcing writing your adYou’ll want to post these ads in as many relevant categories as possible. If there is an option to post in game development and mobile development, then post in both. Your main goal here is to cast a wide net so you’ll have many applicants to sift through at a fast pace.

By the time you’re done with this task, you’ll be able to take a closer look at a handful of perfect candidates.

Interview Tips and Techniques

Before you interview an applicant, you should have a few things in place:

  1. Your basic design document describing the various sections of your game
  2. An idea on what your budget is for this game (expect to pay $2,000 for a simple game and up to $5,000 for a more complex game).
  3. A list of questions which you will discuss
  4. Bonus: Have a screen recording of a PowerPoint presentation describing your game idea. This isn’t required, but can be helpful and make the interview process smoother. Jing is a great free screen recording platform you can use.

I prefer to interview applicants using Skype, but you can use any chat based software that is publicly available. It’s completely up to you.

Another quick interview technique that I recommend is sticking with text chat instead of voice chat, as voice chat can be awkward for both parties, especially if the native language is different.

Here’s a few tips to use during the interview process:

Interview Tips for Skype

  1. If they don’t respond quickly during an interview, close the interview immediately – This happens more often than you would think. Don’t wait around longer than 3 minutes for each response.  If you notice that it is taking longer than normal for them to respond during the chat, simply tell them it’s not working out and move on. Remember, this interview is the first impression you’ll see of their communication style. Communication is extremely important when working via Skype.
  2. If they are sarcastic, close the interview immediately – This one is rather baffling, but does happen.  Sometimes, more often than you might think, we have situations where the coder has a poor attitude and is sarcastic or demeaning. This advice is very important for the people who might not be technical. It is 100% OK if you are not overly technical. Just like most people in a leadership position, you’re job is to hire someone smarter than you in certain areas and for them to explain things to you when needed. You’re job is to manage them, not to know more than them.
  3. Dive deep into their answers – This is a very important one to follow when you’re outsourcing. The premise is simple, once you ask them a question you dive deep into the answer. If you ask them “What was your best project to date?” then don’t answer with “Ok great”. Instead answer with “That’s interesting, how long did it take?” When they tell you how long it took, dive deeper into that answer as well with something like “Interesting, what took the longest? Did you feel it could have been shorter?” Like the movie Inception, you keep going deeper into their answers until you’ve hit the bottom and there is no where else to go. Then move on to your next question. You’ll not only learn more about the skill of the candidates, you’ll learn more about them as a person. You’ll suddenly start understanding how they work and find out if you’re truly compatible.
  4. Play their previous games – Extremely important, very simple, yet often overlooked. Before you interview someone, test out their previous games. If you’re hiring a programmer or coder, don’t worry about the art. Focus on how buggy the game is. See if it moves quickly or feels sluggish. If the game is not good, then cancel the interview.
  5. Only hire people that you bond with – There is more to a successful working relationship than skill, especially with games. Games are art and for you to create something amazing you have to be on the same page as your programmer. If you don’t feel like this is someone you would want to spend an enormous amount of time with, then don’t hire them.
  6. If you are unsure of either the price or their ability, offer a small portion of the project – This is for the time that you’re on the fence and don’t have any strong gut feelings about the applicant… and you haven’t found anyone else. When this combination of events happens, then you might want to offer a small portion of your game for a very cheap price to see how well you work together. Maybe just have them create the basic user interface structure and go from there.

Hiring your first employee is a major step in any business, especially in a business where you’re making games. You can find a large number of books not only on outsourcing, but also team creation and hiring. Following these tips will give you a solid strategy to find the right employee to help you build your game.

Jonathan Trendel

About Jonathan Trendel