How do you filter through applicants to find the ones that can really enrich your guild instead of just filling out a roster?
Sitting down and reviewing applications to join a guild is hard. The bright side is that building a good set of tools and application questions means that you can effectively shut down the applications that never have a chance of being worthwhile; it's very easy to be sure that the people applying to the guild are people you would actually want in the guild. Or, at least those who can sound like solid additions to the guild on a written application.
If that's not clear enough, let's be direct - a good application is nice, but it's not the same as knowing whether or not someone is actually going to sit well with the rest of the guild. And interviews might help, but it's still going to ultimately come down to whether or not you you make that judgement call.
The fact is that a lot of this comes down to instinct, which is not something that you can necessarily teach. There are applicants which can look great that don't hold up; there are others who look awful but actually do a great job in almost any guild. But you can at least start to make some assumptions, and that's exactly what this week's article is about. It's time to start developing that metaphorical third eye and figuring out if these new applicants are going to have the qualities you need for the future.
How often is the first step to filtering just being honest about your filtering? Remove the words "we'd prefer" or "particular consideration given to" from anything you have going. You wouldn't prefer Elemental Shaman to join your dungeon group in World of Warcraft, you are looking for an Elemental Shaman. That's what you want. Ask for that.
Sure, maybe you would accept someone who wasn't an Elemental Shaman, but the important thing is that this produces a very different string of questions. If you put forth that you want X, people who want to join that don't fill the criteria will ask if they can apply even though they aren't X. You can make the call based on what you want and add in a different layer of filtering.
More to the point, as discussed elsewhere, there's only so much space in a guild. You can and will reach a point where you have too many members for your guild to support effectively. So start by recruiting the people that you actually want, and make sure that you're filtering out the people that you could maybe accept but don't necessarily strongly want in the guild.
Interviews are a vital part of the application process, but they're not always a perfect indicator of how someone is going to act in the guild proper. This should be obvious if you've ever been interviewed for a job, during which you almost invariably took part in the time-old art of "fudging the truth."
Not lying, of course, you would never lie. But you may have... nudged reality a bit here and there. Stretched the truth. It's fine, there's nothing to be ashamed of, but you know it and we know it.
Interviews are a good chance to get to know your applicant, but they cannot be your sole source of information about what the applicant will actually do once they're with the guild. It's not enough to assume that someone is going to be able to lead your guild through raids based on their say-so.
What is useful during interviews, aside from just getting a feel for the player, is to ask hypothetical questions. If you're looking for someone to act as part of a raid, ask them what they'd do in situations that have actually come up and determine whether their answers are on-point or not. Ask questions that give you a chance to know how the person is likely to respond.
Most guilds have a bit of time with a new member during which the new member is something of a provisional entrant - they've got some privileges and they're in the guild, but there's still a chance to step away. But it can be helpful to get some time with the applicant before even that, just to evaluate them on a more honest level, especially because at the time you're doing so they don't know you.
I don't mean that in the sense of they don't know who you are, just in the sense that they don't know how well you play your game of choice, what you prefer, and so forth. You are still probably a cipher to them. So be a cipher and go do something with them, and see how they handle themselves. Especially if you make a point of not being very good.
A guild master I knew in Star Wars: The Old Republic used to make a point of running dungeons with applicants and making small-scale mistakes all through the run - not enough to sabotage things, but just enough to appear kind of derpy. He ran a guild that was meant to be helpful and beneficial for new players. The point was that he wanted to see how his applicants would react to having people without great skills in the party. Some of them were quiet, some were loudly dismissive, and some were helpful or just silly in response.
Similarly, you want to pay attention to parts in an application that allow an applicant's personality to shine through. If someone is applying for serious progression but mentioned needing to learn more, that could be a sign of humility, or it could be a sign of not being ready for the top end despite outward signs. Keep your eyes open and remain alert for what you might not be expecting.
At the end of the day, if you get to say yes or no to applicants, you have to be willing to say no. You have to be ready to reach down and say "no, this person feels like a bad fit," and you have to trust yourself in that regard. It's not always satisfying, but it is important.
Obviously, you can't just turn people away because your instincts tell you on some level that it's a good idea. You can, however, say that despite everything, this person is just rubbing you the wrong way, that something makes you feel as if they aren't actually right for the guild. If you can get another person to interview them, that's great; if not, you need to be willing to say no, just because something isn't sitting right with you.
It's tricky, but that's the nature of leadership. Sometimes every sign will point to the person being fine while you feel in your heart that something is wrong. Develop your instincts and learn to trust them.
Of course, you also need to make sure that you're giving applicants what they need to succeed in your guild... but that's a topic for another week.