Thursday, April 9, 2009

My interview with the 'Bizarro' Video Game company

I know that my career will definitely collide with the wide world of gaming at some point. So, after my interview experience last week with a new but growing gaming firm, I don't know if I would be able to deal with some of the misfits running this industry. They must be doing something correctly, but I don't think it's their leadership. I think it is the backbone workforce under these tyrants that makes the gaming industry really crank and turn like the well-oiled marketing machine it is.

This gaming company was weird to put it politely. Although it wasn't really the company, but actually the leadership at their North American office. I have changed the names to protect what I reluctantly call the innocent.

I got the interview through a creative recruiting service (these companies will be the subject of a whole new blog at some point). I should have known it was going to be bad from the beginning. The pleasant voice I finally found at this agency said, “They are a small company on the verge of big growth. (ok, I like it.) They are looking for the right personality and attitude. (Alright? I get along with people) They don’t really care about your work or experience as much as your personality. (Needle skips of the record in my head. Did I accidentally sign up with or a recruiting service? Did you hear alarm bells? clang clang clang) They seem very picky about this and again it isn't your background that necessarily means anything. (CLANG) Also, you will be interviewing with two people: Ajax (the boss) describes himself as 'fussy' (CLANG, CLANG) and John (operations) who is really mellow and down to earth. You should play them against each other. (WTF? 'Play them off each other'...Maybe it's not, but an escort service. Shit! I joined a sex slave service by accident.)The interview is tomorrow at 10am, can you make it?”

"Can you make it?"

.....the question echoed in the phone and, despite my caution, desperation answered with a smile, "Of Course!"

All night and on the drive to the interview this thought process reverberated in my head, "Fussy? Even worse, self-described Fussy!?! Who the hell would describe themselves as Fussy! Maybe a cat would, but honestly I only hear cat owners use that word. I think cats don't really care what their owners or anyone else thinks of them. They are mostly detached and indifferent, which just makes cats blasé more than fussy. What do I do with fussy?"

I should have stopped my car right there, but I kept going. I arrived at the building at 9:10am and went to the McD's in the lobby to get some coffee and relax before heading upstairs to the interview. I sat down and looked through my portfolio and went over my spiel in my head. Maybe I was a little groggy from my 'fussy-filled' night of sleep, but I didn't notice the crazy papier-mâché dioramas littered here and there in what was the most demented McD's ever. Here is a photo of what I saw when I raised my head to look around...

AAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!! Look out it's cardboard Ronald!

Another terrifying omen. I began to wonder if the papier-mâché customer that Ronald is serving in the diorama is actually just a long time patron of McD's who ended up loving it so much that all the preservatives turned him into papier-mâché. Or maybe he was the prisoner of the Fussy king who lived in the tower above. Then I thought, "I gotta get outta here."

I headed upstairs right away at 9:40am. I got off the elevator, walked to the door, took a deep breath and opened the door with a huge smile on my face. Upon opening the door I realized the reception area was intangibly set off to the left next to an enclosed conference room. The entire office was an open room with window offices lining the outer edge and a small group of desks for three people á la the accounting department in TV's "the office". There was even a skinny Kevin facing me, a young Oscar with his back to me and a woman who looked exactly like Angela to his left. I stood on this 6' x 6' island of tile that marked the "reception" area which consisted of a couch in the far left corner with a small table and a bunch of magazines with post its highlighting rave reviews of their game releases. Feeling my stare and wondering why no one greeted me, yet, Young Oscar turned to me from the carpeted area of the office and said, "yo."

I said smiling my best interview smile, "Hi, I'm here to meet with Ajax and John."

Young Oscar rolled his eyes looked at the other two and exchanged a knowing glance and chuckled without a single word like they were psychic triplets. Creepy. At that moment an office door on the right opened up and out came a short, skinny, young Indian man child and a short, geeky, young Irish man child. They were exiting the office and laughing loudly to themselves and I swear I heard my name in the chuckles. When they saw me, they immediately composed themselves and scattered. John (the geek) came by after about 30 seconds of disappearing and said smiling politely, "We will be with you in a moment."

I assured him it was no problem and I was early anyway. He thanked me for that (ding! extra brownie point with John). Ajax walked by and sneered as though he was angry I showed up early (CLANG!). After about a minute of what seemed an orchestrated attempt to look as though they were really busy, they made their way to the conference room and we shook hands. Made eye contact with John (ding), but Ajax was not an eye contact kind of guy (CLANG). We sat down.

Ajax was a prissy, angry metero man child and John was a young version of Bill Gates with a flat top. Ajax actually was as it turned out Fussy and I dare say even a little Finicky. Ajax immediately said in a way that made him sound like he was annoyed to even be there (or maybe it was just the British accent), "Ok, why don't you tell us about yourself and we will tell you about ourself."

I smiled and said politely, "That's what I am here to do." (ding! no intimidation there.)

I began and Ajax then immediately started texting on his blackberry. (CLANG!) So, I turned my attention to John. (ding) Over the course of the interview, I noticed Ajax was definitely the owner/boss and you could tell he was the finger pointer, while John was the one who gets it all done. Ajax's behavior made John embarrassed and uncomfortable and he even started sweating at one point. That just made me more uncomfortable. So I just sped through everything I could about myself to try to end this thing as quickly as possible. (CLANG!) This made John fidget and sweat even more, while Ajax would look up from his crackberry and just glare at me and then John and back to me and back to the Blackberry. (Train off the track completely CLANG! CLANG!) I got out of the interview in about 20 minutes. Which was funny because I showed up early and ended up leaving the interview at about the time it was supposed to start. No cards exchanged. No “we’ll call you”. No walk to the door only Ajax saying, "Can you close the door on your way out?"


I stepped outside the door of the conference room. I took a deep breath and collected my thoughts, while I stood banished to the tile island of the reception area. Just a horrible experience. Ajax reminded me of a little tiny club bouncer. He was that distracted 20-year old with that silly 'velvet rope' attitude. When I think about it, it just seemed like this really awkward good cop/bad cop routine that went awry. I mean the good cop (John) can't also be afraid of the bad cop it just ruins the whole dynamic. He has to have the power to calm the bad cop down and save and befriend the perp. Wait a minute! Why was I a perp!?! I didn't do anything wrong!

I should have been treated like a prospective employee. I have at least 8 years of experience on both these guys. I've seen it all, but not something as weird as this. This was truly the strangest, most unique interview I'd had. So that means it wasn't me, it was them or maybe it was just bad timing. These thoughts helped my mind settle and I donned that interview smile once again and said, "See ya!" to young Oscar. He made eye contact, smiled and nodded slowly. We exchanged a knowing glance like we were psychic twins.


© 2009 David La Cava. All Rights Reserved.

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