King's Donna Black discusses the company's rapidly growing empire

Recruiter Hot Seat: King

[This feature was published in the May 2013 edition of Develop magazine, which is available through your browser and on iPad.]

Name: Donna Black
Title: Senior Recruiter

What makes King different from other development studios?
What makes King really unique is that we have everything within the company; we are a game studio, publisher and distributor. We’re everything. We own the entire chain when it comes to producing a game. That way we can take all the decisions related to it and set our own agenda.

We also have a mature leadership with a flexible approach to work-life balance. Since we have control over the entire process, we can adapt and manage without burning out our staff. We work hard when we are at work, but we also cherish the time with our family and friends.

King also offers truly international career opportunities, with studios in Stockholm, Malmö, London, Barcelona and Bucharest.

How many staff are you currently looking to take on?
We are hiring across all our studios and are looking for talented developers, graphics, producers and business intelligence experts to join us in making great games. We are planning to continue growing our teams for the rest of 2013.

We’re particularly looking for talented game developers, especially those working with C++ or Flash. It’s an exciting environment for our technical people with Hadoop clusters, immense scalability, agile teams, fast shipment, short projects and instant feedback. Above all, it’s about working together and having fun as part of a team that’s growing at an awesome rate.

What perks or privileges are available to staff working at King?
We feel what we are doing at King is the most exiting work being done in the industry right now. We can offer the opportunity to work on amazing games, like Candy Crush Saga, Pet Rescue Saga and Farm Heroes Saga – some of the most popular and fun games to play in the entire world.

Beyond that each of our studios has its own competitive package – and I guess the biggest perk right now is that entire company is flying to Dubai [in May] to celebrate King’s tenth anniversary and recent success.

What should aspiring developers do with their CV to get an interview?
The CV should be short and to the point. Bullet points are good, paragraphs are bad. We have a high volume of CVs to read, so when things are clear it makes it a lot easier for us.

Be well prepared and, naturally, play our games before coming to the interview. Above all, be yourself though – the culture fit for us is just as important as the skills you can bring to King.

Who is the best interviewee you have ever had, and how did they impress you?
We were very impressed by a person who had played our games, and beat all the competition. We thought initially that he might be cheating in some way, so we monitored him extra carefully.

We later invited him to the office to demonstrate his skills, and in interview he really stood out from everything we had seen before. We were so impressed that we hired him on the spot. He is still with the company, making a great contribution to our ongoing success.

And who was the worst?
While in our offices, a candidate answered a call from a recruitment agency and booked an interview for later in the week with another company. I guess it goes without saying that they were not successful with King.

What advice would you give for a successful interview?
It might sound weird, but don’t come too early. Our schedules are often back-to-back with meetings, so it’s rare we can start an interview early, but of course we still we feel bad keeping someone waiting anyway. You don’t want the first impression you give to an interviewer to be guilt, but also don’t be late.

If your studio has recruited talent internationally, what was the process like for you and for the interviewee?
We are increasingly focusing on international recruitment lately, particularly in Stockholm and Malmö. We’re currently working on an attraction campaign across 22 countries to bring the best game developers in the world to King.

It’s important when relocating that people consider what they really want out of the move, and what’s best for their family, which we support with a preview trip during the interview process. And once a candidate is on board, we do what we can to make them feel at home.

As well as a thorough induction, a competitive pay package and great benefits, they will enjoy a generous relocation package that covers every last detail, from schools to housing assistance.

How have your recruitment needs changed in the last 12 months?
Our recruitment needs are constantly evolving. A year ago we launched Candy Crush, and now it is one of the most popular games of all-time.

We have to adapt on an almost weekly basis and make sure we grow. We have had to develop a plan to exponentially increase the volume of our hires, without sacrificing any of the quality.

In your opinion, what area of game industry recruitment needs more ‘investment’?
Without a doubt a graduate program within companies. As an industry, we lose a huge number of extremely talented young developers coming out of university because there aren’t opportunities in the studios, and other areas, for junior talent.

To read our other Recruiter Hot Seat articles about studios looking to hire, visit our archive

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