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Guild Recruitment

April 14, 2011

Dear Reader,

I recently read on World of Matticus a post about the three most important questions a guild can ask a recruit after their trial period.  I thought the questions were direct and revealing, and this got me to thinking about the about guild recruitment, and how foolish a lot of what guilds do to recruit is.

I’ve been through a lot of recruitment.  Some of it required an application.  Some required an interview.  Some required a trial dungeon or raid.  Some required someone in the guild to vouch for you.  Some required nothing at all.  Many were a mixture of these, and none – not one single one – really did a good job at figuring out who should be in the guild and who shouldn’t.

A guild recruitment policy is supposed to work like a defense system, a perimeter to keep out unwanted “morons and slackers” (to once again borrow Gevlon’s term).  Yet I’ve never been in a guild that was 100% capable of doing so.  Some might argue that any recruitment policy can be beaten, but I don’t believe that.  Like the idea of “exceptions” for grammar rules, I believe that if you really have the right rule, there’d be no exceptions.  Therefore, if you design the right system, there’ll be no fooling it.

To be fair, most of the guilds didn’t really hold firm to their recruitment policy.  Sometimes exceptions were made for friends; other times parts of the process were skipped over.  These reasons might explain how bad players can get in, but I don’t know that I fully believe that, either.

It all comes down to judgment.  Sure, we all say we’re not judgmental, that’s it’s wrong to be so.  However, the truth is that everyone judges all the time.  You judge situations, people, places… everything in your environment because it’s hard-wired into you for survival purposes.  A guild is no different; like most creatures, it lives and breathes.  It’s made up of various parts that should be working together, and when they’re not, it suffers and can die, as well, so it’s imperative to try to design a structure that will protect the guild from unwanted diseases.

Guild applications are one way.  I’ve found every single one I did to be mostly pointless and cumbersome.  None really asked extremely important questions.  One – I don’t remember which now – did ask a very zany question, something like, “If you found a gnome eating your ice cream, what would you do?”  I don’t remember my response, but I remember thinking that it was probably the most important question on the application, because it was the only one that really got to the nature of the applicant.  All the others were questions like “Do you intend to raid?”  Well, I mean, I’m applying to a raiding guild…

I think a lot of guild apps are really just a test to see if a person’s willing to do the app.  If so, you might as well fill it with personality-based questions instead of raiding-based questions; the work is still required and will, in fact, be harder, plus you’ll learn a lot more about the person in the process.

Another guild app had questions on it referring to the guild statement and rules.  I thought that was a good idea, too, because it forces the person to really read about what your guild is like before applying.

Of course, an application can be gamed.  A person can just put in the answers that they think others want to get in good, just like with a resumé.  However, like a job application, the guild app should be followed with an interview, preferably face-to-face (i.e. Skype) or at least in Vent.  Typed interviews are as pointless as asking questions in a letter (did I use that one recently?).

One good strategy is to ask questions about the person’s application, especially if the application is personality based.  It’ll be hard for a liar to remember exactly what they wrote, but an honest person will answer a lot of the questions in at least a similar way.  This means, of course, that the interviews need to be relatively soon after the app is put in or no one – good or bad – will remember what they wrote.

If you must ask them about raiding, then the interview’s the time to do it.  Short questions with quick responses is all that’s needed, not a long app filled out ahead of time.  If they haven’t even bothered to look at your rules and schedule, you probably don’t want them anyway, so this is a good time to check and make sure they’re at least somewhat informed.

People might be able to fool an interviewer, though.  It’s helpful to have several people in there; I’d say at least two but not more than three.  If you put too many in there, it’ll be very intimidating and the recruit might feel nervous enough to botch even if they’re a good person.  Still, sometimes people are very good at hiding their true colors, so, like in a relationship, the first date shouldn’t seal the deal.  More dates need to follow, and in WoW’s case, this means dungeons.

If you want to see what kind of person you’re really dating, you don’t want to have a date go perfectly.  You want there to be problems.  The food’s wrong, the weather’s bad, the car gets a flat: all of these will put enough pressure on a person where any facade they’re sporting will start to crack.

The same is true of the date dungeon.  You shouldn’t send him with your top players in their best gear doing their best.  You’re recruiting him, remember, not trying trying to show for him.  Either get good players to intentionally make subtle mistakes or put him in with the worst-geared, just hit heroic item level, brand-newest alts who you’ve never tanked or healed with before.  Heck, if your recruiting pool is big enough, put him with other recruits.  Or just take one observer and do a pug or two.  The point is, you want to test his capabilities and his personality, and an all-clear super smooth run won’t do either.

You don’t have to deceive the recruit about this, either, if you don’t want to (though there’s no reason not to).  You can tell him up front what the plan is and see how he responds.  Doing this, of course, lessens the impact of constant errors, but it also provides another level of test – see how he reacts to being tested.  That’s another option.

I would have different people reading apps, doing interviews, and running the dungeons, too.  At the culmination, I’d bring all of those people together to discuss the new recruit.  If anyone has a problem with something they saw, that should send up warning flags.  Remember, flaws, like cockroaches, are ten times more abundant than what you see, or at least ten times as potent.  If a recruit is impatient in a dungeon when he knows he’s being evaluated, he’s going to be much, much worse once he’s in.

That doesn’t mean that a flaw should be an outright rejection, though.  You can always go back to the recruit with what you’ve observed and discussed and let him know about your concerns and let him explain himself.  Perhaps he was just having a bad day, after all.  Most of the time, though, you should trust your instincts and drop him.

No one likes to be the one to tell someone they didn’t get into a guild, but it’s rude not to.  The just-avoid-them approach is immature and makes the guild look bad.  One of my guilds did that to someone I knew (but didn’t really want in the guild) for several weeks, and I was annoyed about it.  The applicant had gone on a raid drunk off his rear.  They didn’t want a drunk in the guild, yet no one wanted to tell him that.  It’s polite to both let the recruit know your decision as soon as you’ve made it and let them know why if you’ve decided against them.  That both gives them the opportunity to improve and shows respect to the process.

Of course, you may just get a lot of profane text back for doing so, but then you can rest on your laurels knowing you made the right decision.


Stubborn (who believes face-to-face is by far the best way to judge someone)

6 Comments leave one →
  1. April 14, 2011 5:37 pm

    Pretty Epic for the experienced Raider. My question is, do Raid oreientated guilds choose only “Ronin” Raiders (those high level well geared but need homes), or are they willing to help raise and gear lowbie players to thier standards. See, this is the one thing I often wonder about guild recruitment from the PvE Raid side. It seems a little touched on topic. Yet in the face of many guilds folding because they loose a star player, it seems rare that they are willing to take on fresh new blood, raise them to the guild’s standards and have maybe a B and C string squad. There are so many of you Raid Bloggers out there and you are most knowledgeable. But I rarely see any ideas on keeping a new intake of fresh blooded players that raid guilds are willing to support and raise as apprentices if you will. This seems counter productive in a game that is specifically end content orientated. Just curious.

    • April 14, 2011 6:54 pm

      I fully support the idea of training raiders; I think its one of the best ways to ensure your raiders develop good habits. More on this later, when I’m not out to dinner with my wife 🙂

  2. April 14, 2011 8:01 pm

    I remember several months ago during patch 3.3.5 putting in an application to a 25-man guild with a recruitment form requesting I “include answers to the following information” followed by a point list: “- Have Ventrilo – Can make the raid times – Ability to take criticism” and so on. I thought the list form was a bit dry, so in my recruitment thread I wrote a few paragraphs about myself as a player, making sure I still touched on each of the points on the form.

    The response I got was: “That’s great. Can you repost your app and just answer the questions?”

    So I copy-pasted the point list, adding “Yes” to the end of each line. They gave me a spot at the next raid.

    In the end I didn’t really feel like I fit in with The Bilderberg Group, but the guild is still around– currently 5/12 Heroic.

    • April 19, 2011 12:48 pm

      That sounds like the typical guild application process to me; mostly just a formality to ensure you can follow their orders.

      I just wish guilds thought a little more about the goal of their applications because I’m quite sure they the guild in your story had intended much more from their app.

  3. April 15, 2011 5:57 pm

    Training them might take more time, but makes those players more fond to your Guild, and your raid teams more solid. Sure theres always the possibility of them leaving you after they became decent players. But it truly is the best way to get good players, making them.

    I for one, really like to help new players improve. They bring fresh air to any raiding team, patience enough to teach them.

    • April 19, 2011 12:49 pm

      I agree. I do worry about the leaving, though. However, one of Gevlon’s recent posts did a great job of promoting the idea of players leaving and going forward to become great raiders as a positive thing about the game rather than a negative one, and I really enjoyed the post.

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