Open Recruitment Policy

applicationBack when I was in college, during one summer break I was in need of a job to earn money for gas.  I went to a local department store, walked into the human resources office, and asked if they were hiring.

“Are you looking for full-time or part-time work?” the receptionist asked.

“Full-time,” I replied.

“Sorry, we’re only hiring part-time employees right now” she informed me.

“Well, I’d like to apply for a part-time position then,” I said.

“Sorry, we won’t hire anyone who is looking for full-time work.”

I was stunned.  That wasn’t an interview, or even a fair opportunity.  It was essentially one multiple-choice question… “full-time or part time?”  There was only one correct answer, and if I chose wrong I was precluded from any opportunity from employment.  I never got to show a resume, talk to a manager, or explain the skills that I could bring to the company.  I was shot down by a secretary after one question.  Pointless.

That’s pretty much what I think of guild applications.

I’ll be honest – I have never understood why most guilds have applications.  This is not a job.  Its a pixel-drawn world with monsters and bad guys that, honestly, don’t hold a candle to most Disney villains.  Its a chance to hit buttons on your keyboard and make colors and numbers flash on your screen.  It is not Serious Business.

If my friend wants to play Rock Band with me, I don’t ask for his prior guitar-playing experience.

If someone wants to play Wii Sports with me, I don’t ask for a screenshot of previous sports game scores.

The typical stated justification for making people fill out an application is that it weeds out the immature, the children, and the slackers.

Do you really think so?  I don’t see it working that way at all.  I think a lot of guilds have applications just to puff up their own self-importance.  If someone fills out your application, it makes you feel desirable.  As I see it, most guild applications serve two purposes:

(1) It weeds out those who are too lazy to fill out an application.  Is that what your guild wanted when they made an application?  When you put out a recruitment message, were you looking for gamers or someone to help you build a house?  Almost by definition, some of the best gamers are extremely lazy people outside of Azeroth.  What if you just weeded out an uber-geared 5k dps and all-around nice guy because he didn’t go online to fill out an application?  Was that the goal of your application process?

(2) It allows people to nitpick at things like grammar and sentence structure in order to justify their completely arbitrary selection process.  I see in many guild recruitment forums where the guild members make fun of the writing style of the applicants.  Again, would you eliminate a skilled holy priest healer because he made punctuation errors?  Does it take great spelling skills to hit 111121111211113111112 in the game?

Lots of people would argue that their application is different, and effective.  Its true that some guilds have a careful vetting process that includes written applications, vent interviews, and in-game play.  If you’re not doing all of that, then I would claim that your application is fairly meaningless.  And if you are doing all of that, WHY?  Anyone other than a cutting-edge progression guild should not put prospective members through a gauntlet like that.

People will cite the great players they have found through their application process.  But how many players did you miss out on because they never filled out the app?  You’ll never know.

Remember – no one will write on their application that they plan to ninja your guild bank.


My guild has no application process.  It is open recruitment.  If you are interested, and you chat with an officer for a few minutes without swearing or coming off like an ass, we invite you.  There is no better application process than actually playing with someone.  We get to hear you in vent, see how you talk in chat, and run instances with you.  An application cannot even begin to evaluate a player in that depth.

We take precautions, of course.  New invitees do not have any withdrawal access from the guild bank for a couple of weeks until we get a feel for them.  They only bring one toon in at first – no alts yet – so it will be a quick clean break if we decide to part ways.

Do we get immature people?  On occasion.  And when then act immaturely in chat, the officers ask them (through whispers) to stop.  Eventually, they realize that they are in the wrong guild and they leave on their own.  It usually takes a week or two, but there is no harm done.

Do we get children?  Sometimes.  That’s not the end of the world.  One of our guild’s best shaman healers joined us when he was 13.  We have a pally tank who is no older than 15, if that.  I have no complaints about children if they are well-behaved in chat and vent.  If they are not well-behaved, then see the previous paragraph.

Do we get complete jerks?  A couple of times.  And when it became obvious that they would be intolerable we asked them to leave the guild.

However, mixed in with those characters are the jewels of open recruitment.  The burned-out former progression raider who has amazing gear and is just looking to relax.  The awesome tank who has done mostly PuGs because his former guild was too small to raid.  The incredible dps who couldn’t get a raid spot when he switched spec or main toon.

Any of those players might have been discouraged by a web application full of meaningless questions.  All of them are an asset to the guild.  Applications are OK for guilds that are pushing for server-first kills.  For everyone else, maybe your app is not doing what you hoped.


11 Responses to “Open Recruitment Policy”

  1. May 27, 2009 at 9:04 am

    I agree with parts of your post; however, I do see a use in the guild applications. You made good points for and against, even though you clearly see no use for them. The truth of the matter is that you are correct in that people can lie their way through the whole process. I will not disagree with that at all.

    However, what we found in MAS with open recruitment is that when you hit a certain size, the one or two bad apples can cause the whole bunch to go rotten. Sure, you can ask them to leave and they usually do. However, they have the ability to get in and talk with other members and cause more drama than they were worth. You are correct in it is a game to pound keyboard buttons and that I would not ask a friend to give me prior experience for playing the guitar or to play a sports game, but then again I know my friends.

    I think the purpose of the applications, beside your stated points, are to help control not just the type of players who enter into the guild, but also the size of a guild. If the guild has any purpose/goal (such as running premade BGs or end-game raiding), then you have to be able to get the right mix of members into a guild. There is nothing worse than putting a group together and having the one member who is undergeared or just may not be very skilled, start to complain because they never get to run something. That to me is annoying since I believe that it is the player’s responsibility to get geared and learn to play. Sure the guild can foster that and assist, but ultimately it is up to the keyboard masher to improve theirself (but that is a story for another time).

    Will you miss out on the good players who are lazy? Probably so, but that is something that a guild makes a decision on. In my opinion, if you are too lazy to go online and fill out a forum, then you are probably too lazy to pay attention to the forums, in-game calandar, or anything else that may inform them when a run is scheduled. So if we think of it as they are lazy, which could lead to be unreliable, then it does not matter if they can put out 5k DPS as they will never be on or know what is happening.

    I guess in closing I would simply say that the joy of WoW is that there are all kinds of people out there and so long as we can all agree to disagree without resorting to childish name calling, then there are no issues. We use to be open (and still are if a member in good standing will vouch for you), but we do have an application for the random folks who ask to join. If someone joins and things are not working out, I always explain to them that they should probably find a guild that thinks the same as they do and meets their needs. I have yet to have anyone leave though without resorting to name calling, hence the applications.

    Good post, I enjoyed it.

  2. May 27, 2009 at 10:20 am

    I think some guilds use the application in place of an “about our guild.” I’ve seen a lot of applications that ask things like “We raid from 6pm – 9pm. Can you make those times?” or “We have Naxx25 on farm, and are 8/13 Ulduar25. What is your raiding experience?” or “We use a suicide-kings dkp system. Are you familiar and comfortable with the loot policy?”

    Really, instead of an application, a guild like this might want an “About us” that includes:

    – raid times
    – loot system
    – progression
    – etc.

    That being said, my guild does have an application, and it’s largely to get the basics on a player’s experience prior to us doing a trial run and seeing how he fits in with the group (on a personal level, not necessarily a dps level).

  3. 3 Cat
    May 27, 2009 at 8:06 pm

    Our guild, being a family and friends guild, generally has pretty closed recruitment which I think is appropriate for that type of guild. Members are free to introduce people, but to some extent they are responsible for the new hire’s behaviour, so we don’t get a lot of randoms.

    While I too don’t see the point in extensive guild applications, I think you make too light of the “game vs job” argument you make. Taking your point to the extreme, you just excused every bank/loot ninja, every graveyard camper and every pug asshat that ever logged on because hey, it’s just a game. Behind the “game” are real people, and any time they spend meticulously crafting their toon is time not spent doing something else. Rock Band and Wii Sports (as very casual non-investing games) don’t really compare – what about the guy who asks to help you embroider the tapestry you’ve been meticulously working on as a hobby for 3 years? Or the guy who wants to help you build your prized plastic model kits? Or the guy who wants to join your soccer team the week before the finals?

  4. 4 Adam
    May 28, 2009 at 2:39 am

    Lets look at the two extremes of guild recruitment. They are, taking the time to make a written application and spamming trade chat in cities saying, “Join my new mega awesome guild!” I can tell you that I would never join a guild that spams trade chat because I immediately know that their intake standards are low. Thus the probability that the guild will be full of tools is high.

    On the other hand, the guild that asks me to take the small amount of time to apply in a written application most probably takes the time to carefully check out possible recruits, which results in a high possibility of a guild not being full of tools.

    In my guild we use an application process for people that we don’t know. It is a simple application, you just need to answer a few questions about what you are looking for in a guild, your internet connection speed etc. What it allows us to do is to check the persons gear on the armory, ( we are a raiding guild after all), and also check to see if they are known by anyone in-guild. We have successfully blocked two applications in this way from people known to be ninjas etc on our server.

    Don’t get me wrong. Some guilds application processes reek of pomposity. That’s fine, it is also an effective way of finding out which guild you may not want to join based on that factor as well. But a guild that takes the time in a simple way to check you out and see if you will fit in, is a guild that cares about its members.

  5. 5 Scott
    May 28, 2009 at 9:35 pm

    There is a good reason you were not hired for that job.

    A company will not hire a person for a part time job looking for full time work. The company does not want to fill the position again when the person finds the full time job they actually want. It is the same reason a person will not hire a person they consider over-qualified for a job.

    Guild applications are much the same in my mind. Not everyone will see the value in an application, and not everyone is going to use an application in a way that adds value. It can be a useful tool to find out if an applicant is a good fit for your guild.

  6. May 28, 2009 at 11:05 pm

    @Adam – I can provide a complete counterpoint in my own guild. While I do not spam trade channel (in fact, we don’t actively recruit at all) our intake standards are EXTREMELY low. Basically, if you ask to get in, and you’re not an obvious moron, you get in. We don’t check gear. We don’t check connection speed. Heck, we don’t even check if English is your first language.

    And yet the guild is not full of tools. And we raid successfully. We’re not going to be a top progression guild, but we never set out to be that.

    It works because we’re not lazy, and the guild leaders lead by example. The officers take an active role in the day-to-day activity in the guild. If a jerk gets in the guild, that error is one /gkick away from being fixed. If someone clearly doesn’t get along with the tone of the guild, he leaves on his own in short time. The guild is full of mature adults, so the immature moron stands out and feels out of place right away.

    Letting someone into the guild is not a binding contract by either party. It can easily be undone in a moment. Watching how a person behaves in guild chat and in a raid tells me more than a guild app ever possibly could, so why bother with the app?

  7. May 28, 2009 at 11:10 pm

    @Scott –

    I know why I wasn’t hired. My complaint was with the process.

    How do you define a “good fit for your guild” based on a written application? All the application can tell you is their gear level, raid availability, and if they can write in complete sentences. Or perhaps if they are good at copy/paste. If your guild is only focused on gear (as many guilds are, to their long-term detriment) then a guild app can help.

    I can see it if your guild is an RP guild, because you can gauge a person’s in-character writing style.

    I can also understand an app for a top-level raiding guild, since they define a good fit by gear and performance and nothing else.

    But if you define a good fit based on personality and attitude, in app is no help, IMO.

  8. 8 Cat
    May 28, 2009 at 11:41 pm

    I think there’s a couple of things to consider here:

    1. all guild applications are not the same
    2. how each guild evaluates responses is not the same

    You make a number of assumptions about both those points. Firstly, as Isisxotic pointed out, a guild app can be as simple as ensuring that the applicant has read and understood the policies of the guild and still considers the guild a good fit for them. It is not always and necessarily a ruthless, illogical and blinkered weeding out process based on grammar and be.imba.hu scores!

    I think your real beef is not against applications per se, but against dumb applications, or the dumb and unimaginative evaluation of applications. And on those points I agree with you. But to say that “applications are useless unless you’re a tool who’s only interested in gear scores” is very one-eyed my friend!

    – “have you read the guild policies and do they suit you?” perfectly reasonable
    – “do you know anyone in the guild?” who will be offended if we subsequently kick you, and will they vouch for you?
    – “Why are you currently guildless or looking for a new guild?” Sure, nobody’s going to say “because I ninjad the GB and server transferred”, but they might say something that makes them stand out.

    yada yada. Of course there are some things that can’t be assessed in applications, but there are some things that can and they’re not all stupid and irrelevant. Guild apps are all about protecting the time and effort of the existing guildies. If your guild is of the type where that doesn’t matter so much, all power to you. But don’t assume any guild that is different is full of tools.

    Remember that for a top raiding guild, every time you give a slot to a walk-in, that’s a slot, a boss drop, an achievement and maybe a loot item that someone else in the guild isn’t getting. It’s perfectly reasonable in those situations to be careful who you let in. But it should, I agree, be done in an intelligent way that places emphasis on the things that are really important to your guild (whatever they are) and doesn’t draw abritrary lines in the sand based on irrelevancies.

  9. 9 Adam
    May 29, 2009 at 2:15 am


    I was going to respond with a more in-depth explanation but Cat said everything that I wanted to say, and in a very articulate way I must add.

    Just one final thing. I completely agree with you about officers taking an active role. This is the most important aspect over and above just about anything else. However, myself and a core group of WoW friends and contacts have suffered through and bled our time away in two guilds that eventually fell to pieces in the ultimate in dramatic-ego-clique-horrible ways. We formed our new guild just a couple of months ago, and we were determined to not repeat the mistakes of the past that we had seen. One of the past mistakes that we had identified was a blanket “ask and you can get in” policy. I have to admit that the officers in the former guild were not active as was needed in the day to day running. Could this then mean that pulling anyone in is OK as long as there are active officers? Perhaps, but what I have found is that officers are more active and involved if there is a framework in place that they can follow and see how things progress. Our very simple application form is part of that process. And it also instills faith in our present members when they see that we take the time to check out new recruits. I see new recruits as an investment in the guild, so I like to invest a little time in them beforehand and also ask them to invest a little time as well.

    One other thing that we also do in conjunction with a simple written process is to run a five man with a new recruit and hear them chat on vent. This quickly lets you know if this is the right type of person or not.

    The result of all this? After two months we only have 23 individual guild members not counting alts. But, on Sunday we will run our first 25 man Naxx. We have an extremely strong core now and our written application is a small part of that success.

  10. July 15, 2009 at 6:02 pm

    what would you say that it’s most important: reliability or speed or price?

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