Recruiter Hot Seat: Tarsier Studios

Recruiter Hot Seat: Tarsier Studios
Aaron Lee

By Aaron Lee

April 12th 2013 at 10:00AM

Jenny Berg Nilson tells you what to expect from the studio behind LittleBigPlanet PS Vita

[To read our other recruitment spotlight's for more juicy tips on breaking into the game industry, you can find them here.]

BIO
Name: Jenny Berg Nilson
Title: HR Manager
www.tarsier.se

What are the benefits of working at a studio such as Tarsier?
As well as the fact that we do amazing games and have a blast while doing it, you also have the benefits that come with working at a smaller studio. With around 40 people in the studio, you have no trouble knowing all your co-workers by name and the atmosphere is friendly and personal.

The organisation is also quite flat, meaning that you are always just one person away from top management. You have the ability to influence your working situation, and to a certain extent the project. We have a strong relationship with Sony and get to work with great franchises, such as LittleBigPlanet as well as develop our own IPs.

How many staff are you currently looking to take on, and from what disciplines in particular?
Right now we are around 45 people split across two offices; one small office in Karlshamn with nine employees, and one in Malmö where the main production takes place.

We are looking to fill four positions right now: senior designer, technical lead, senior animator and associate producer. But we always keep an eye out for talented people in all fields.

What perks or privileges are available to staff working at your development studio?
Six weeks of paid vacation yearly, paid bank holidays, private company health care, a great package of health insurance and occupational pension, subsidised fitness grant, breakfast every morning, flexible working hours, fresh organic fruit and up to 24 days of competence development a year. We also have a custom built entertainment room with a game and film library available 24/7.

What should aspiring developers do with their CV or application documents to get an interview?
First of all attach your portfolio. We always want to take a look at previous work, and make sure you select the best part of you work. Insure that the CV is written in English, and, personally, I really like when there is a photograph of you – it makes it easier to remember the person.

Who is the best interviewee you have ever had, and how did they impress you?
When I found a perfect candidate for the position with the right competence and mind-set, and the feelings were mutual. That feeling is really incredible.

And who was the worst?
A person who told me that he only saw the position as a stepping stone, since he was aiming for a lead position. He did not get the job.

Or the time when a candidate told me the he had the best game idea ever and we were so lucky that he wanted to work in our company. He really thought that he was a game design genius. I don’t have to tell you that he did not really have much experience in games development.

What advice would you give perspective developers for a successful interview?
Make sure you know as much as possible about the company and try to find out if you really believe you and the company are a good match. Look at it as a relationship. You don’t want to be together with someone you don’t really like, do you?

It is also important that your own values and the values of the company are similar. If they match, the marriage will be a lot happier and you will have fewer conflicts. Try to find out what kind of games the company is developing, and also what games they will never develop so you don’t get disappointed and hope for something that will never happen.

If your studio has recruited talent internationally, what was the process like for you, and for the applicant themself?
At least two interviews over Skype to begin with, and the third time we fly the candidate over so we can meet in person. We show them our office and the candidate can meet the other members of staff.

For some key roles we also want the candidate to do a personality test. If the candidate is from outside of Europe, we have to involve the Swedish Migration Board and the applicant normally needs to seek a work and residence permit from their home country, and sometimes also a visa.

When everything is sorted out and the candidate is getting on board we provide relocation support. If needed, we help the candidate to get a place to stay, since we know that this can be difficult for applicants to sort out from a distance.

And how have your recruitment needs changed?
We are aiming to build a tight, flexible workforce consisting of talented and versatile people who can adapt to any circumstance. We really value people with the ability to take on new tech and who can easily switch focus on both technologies and projects. With everything that is going on in the industry today, we can never know how things will look in a few years, so we have to be prepared for anything.

Is there anything else you wish to add about recruitment?
One thing that is worth mentioning is that there is a lot going on in our region right now. The Copenhagen-Malmö region is bustling with games and media companies, ranging from small start-ups to global players.

Organisations such as Media Evolution are blurring the borders between media industries and companies, paving the way for dynamic future collaborations that will further increase our chances to adapt to the ever changing landscape of games and media.

At the same time, Malmö is branded as one of the greenest cities in the world, and is paving the way for sustainable development. People are coming here from all over the world to be part of this, and the future of the region is looking bright indeed.

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