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Hire Game Designers: Tests are free work

If you want to hire a game designer for your company, the process can be long. It is very hard to find the right fit, especially for a role like this which touches so many areas of knowledge at the same time.

Tech Test nightmare

The standard nowadays is to make a set of 1-2 interviews and then send a technical test to complete within a week. The test is usually composed of 2-3 tasks which can be completed in 8-16 hours. Anyway, since you have 1 week to do it you will probably invest at least 32 hours trying to get the best result.

Then you send the test out and the outcome can be good, in which case you pass to the next stage. If the outcome is not good, you will have no chance to defend your thoughts and process. You spent 32 hours of your time, nobody pays for that (also nobody uses the outcome of your work) and you are sad. Free work for nothing.

What can you do instead?

Raph Koster in an old post said that a good game designer has writing, technical and artistic skills. Technical tests usually focus on the technical part, but include the other two parts in most cases.

You may want to be sure that your next game designer is the right choice. In front of you there is a junior professional, a mid or a senior (or superior) ones. The process should be different in the 3 cases.

Junior Game Designer

Junior game designers should provide support to the senior professionals. If you want to hire a junior, you should already have at least one senior capable of mentoring this designer. The new hire should be chosen mainly by the senior designer.

  • 2 hours interview
  • Focus on deconstruct a specific game together
  • Specific task live, the senior can see how the junior will tackle a challenge
  • Think aloud to express yourself
  • After the call, the designer should write a small report on the learnings and the activities and send it via email

Mid Game Designer

Those people are already capable of working autonomously on specific tasks. They don’t have to work always on a strict supervision. They start to contribute to the game vision meaningfully. They are capable of facilitating brainstorming sessions and creative meetings.

  • 2 hours interview with development team
  • Portfolio review with deep discussions on problems faced and problem solving
  • Creative session simulation
  • After the meeting, send notes and ideas selections

Senior Game Designer

A senior is someone capable of understanding the context, analyze potential solutions and find the best fit for the game scope. We fought many battles and faced many problems already.

  • 2 hours interview with design team
  • Provide a specific context and see how the designer solves the problem
  • Collaborate with the designers for them to be successful at the interview, not to filter them out
  • After the meeting, let the designer prepare a small presentation or demo
  • Arrange another interview with the presentation or demo and comment deeply with the team


When you are alone completing a technical test, you are applying your professional knowledge to complete specific task. You are working.

Nobody pays you for that. You are working for free.

It does not matter that the challenge is so cool or that the company is so important. They will not use your work to make profit, but still you worked for free.

The right company for you is the company that sets you for the good during the interview. The interview process is not to discard people, but to find the right fit! Support your candidates to see their true potential, instead of trying to spot what doesn’t work. And don’t worry to find the best of the best. There is always someone better, of course, the important is to find someone great for the position.

Published inGame Design

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