In our How to Get Hired Series, we interview hiring managers all about their departments, their best practices for success at Filament Games, and qualities in applications and applicants that make an impression. For this installment in the 2021 reboot of this series, we interviewed Shaina Peshkov, our Studio Operations Director. Shaina manages the Production, Quality Assurance, and AV departments – for today’s blog, we asked her how to get hired in Production.
If you’re looking for more insight from Shaina on getting hired in a different area of work, check out her post on Hiring Top Talent in QA here. See our current open positions here. This interview has been edited for length and clarity.
How would you describe a producer’s role and day-to-day work?
What a producer’s job typically entails is the planning and tracking of their team’s work. That’s the high-level summary of it. What they’re doing on a day-to-day basis is running meetings like sprint plannings, retros, reviews, and client meetings, where they’re talking through the product as it’s being developed with their client. Between meetings, they’re working to ensure their teams have everything that they need, making sure they’re not blocked by anything, and doing regular correspondence. Typically producers have three to four projects running at one time, so they’re splitting their attention in any given week between multiple projects. A lot of their job is making sure their team has no roadblocks and is ready to continue, tracking velocity to make sure that projects are shipping as close to on time as possible, and coordinating with clients to make sure any conflicts are resolved.
Our producers currently work on sales as well. Right now, two of our producers are assigned one to two sales projects a week, where they’re working on a budget and a project timeline that then goes into a statement of work (SOW). The producer will typically write the SOW and then Jennifer Javornik and Alex Stone will look over it, along with me, Gene Cook, and Brandon Korth. We will make any necessary corrections and then finalize a timeline.
How does your role interact with producers?
I am an account manager and a personnel manager. I directly manage all of the producers and I help them forge their career paths, and make sure that they are able to solve any of the problems that occur during their projects – we’ll talk through problems and come up with solutions. Additionally, as an account manager, I work with clients to understand what their big product goals are currently and in the future. I make sure there are no conflicts between our production teams and the clients – I’m involved that way in projects. But most of the time, what I’m doing on projects is watching what my producers are doing and making sure that they’re following our process, that they’re tracking their metrics properly, and we’ll talk through complex problems and solve them as a group or in one-on-one meetings.
Tips for success at Filament Games?
Always be ready and willing to learn. Make mistakes and learn from them. These are important when it comes to success at Filament. We make learning games, that’s a large part of what we do here and so it would be unnatural if our staff wasn’t also expected to be constantly learning and growing. As long as you’re open to learning new things, experiencing new things, and learning from those experiences, I think you’ll be very successful here.
Another way to be successful at Filament is to be willing to communicate with others. I think it’s natural, sometimes, as a creative, to want to silo yourself into your work and not talk to others. But communication is actually really important, especially in a work-for-hire business, because a whole team is always working within the same timeline and toward the same goals. There’s a lot we can learn from each other by communicating.
What should an applicant make sure to include, and on the other hand, make sure to avoid, in an application for your department?
I want to know about the person who’s applying for the job. I want to know what their past experiences look like, I want to know how those experiences relate to the job they’re applying for. What I don’t want to hear, for example, is that they’re interested in learning games because their partner is a teacher. I want to understand what makes them interested in working with us and with what we do, and how their past experience is relevant to that. They don’t have to have been a producer prior to this, they could have been a project manager, or worked with kids in a classroom, or really any sort of job before, but in a cover letter, it’s really important to tie whatever skills you have into the job you’re applying for. I see a lot of people start their cover letter with “as a kid, I played the following games…” and that’s great, that’s a personal story. But it doesn’t have anything to do with the job you’re applying for. It answers the question of why you’re interested in games, which is awesome – but keep that bit short and focus on the job description itself. I see a lot of cover letters that don’t ever reference the job description at all. Reference the job description – it’s really helpful.
What you should not do is make your resume colorful and try to make it stand out more than other people’s. Often, what people do is they make really messy resumes because they look different. All you’re really doing is making it so I’m only looking at certain parts of your resume instead of the whole thing, and so I’m going to make snap judgments in the very short time that I’m looking at it based on how busy it is. I would say that you don’t have to keep with a standard template, but keep it clean and easy to read.
What are the steps you take during your hiring process?
First, every applicant’s materials go through a recruiting screen, and that’s just a first pass to make sure your resume and cover letter are in line with what we’re requiring for an application for the particular job. The second pass is where I go through and validate the skills I see in your cover letter and resume against the job description. If you meet enough of the skills and requirements, and your salary requirement is in line with what we can hire for, I’m going to push you forward. If you’re not meeting enough criteria, you receive a rejection letter at this point.
If you move forward to the next phase, the next step is a phone screen. The phone screen is where we’ll ask some really basic questions about production. It’s just to make sure that what’s written down on your resume and cover letter is accurate, and to make sure you can answer some questions related to the job. If you proceed past that point, you then move to a test. We’ll send over a take-home test that shouldn’t take more than a couple of hours to complete – we try not to make them super long. That’s a way to test your aptitude against a basic principle of production.
If you pass the test phase, you then move to a technical interview, which will be an interview with all of the current Filament production staff, and we’ll be asking you more production-specific questions, some scenario questions, things of that nature. Once you pass that interview, you’ll move on to the gauntlet interview. A gauntlet involves members from other departments – they’ll come together, they’ll ask you some questions as well. The final step is an executive interview one of the partners (Dan White, Dan Norton, or Alex Stone) will then get onto a call with you and verify that the process has gone the way it’s supposed to. From there, we make a hiring decision, you get an offer letter, you negotiate on your offer letter, you agree to take the job, and then we start onboarding you!
What are some qualities, skill sets, or character traits you value in an employee?
I’m looking for someone who follows through on all of their commitments. Someone who does what they say they’re going to do in the time frame they say they’re going to do it. Or they’re communicating a new time frame in which it will be done, and all of that is reasonable and in line with everything else they’re doing. That’s the most consistent trait that all of my producers have, and that I look for.
Other than that, I value someone who is a really good communicator. How you are a good communicator, since there are so many different communication styles, doesn’t matter so much to me as long as you’re good at it. In my team, I value a lot of diversity in personality. I don’t want my team to be like the same person cloned. We’re stronger as a team with more opinions and ideas that are different from one another. We spend a lot of time in production theorizing and talking through problems as a group. As a manager, I’ve seen a lot of stuff, but I’m not always right. I value having differing opinions on my team. I value having people on my team who are willing to go, “Hey, I hear what you’re saying, but what about this other way,” because more often than not, I haven’t thought about the “other way,” and there’s always another way to do something.
We often come up with a lot of cool ideas when we’re able to talk and coordinate with one another. I don’t like a particular mold for a particular hire. I like having a group of people who are really different, but very good at project management, communication, and meeting their commitments.
More insight on how to get hired: