As we see in many emerging media industries, how to hire and develop the right production talent has always been a question. But the talent question does not have to be a quandary. Over decades in this ever-evolving business, we have come to appreciate that hiring mastery comes down to three surprisingly simple principles. And these apply whether you are the company founder, the director of production, or simply the lead project manager looking to establish the right team and production resources.
Heed the simple things
In the heat of working to build a world-class team, sometimes the obvious is overlooked. We tend to over-think the quest, and forget the basics. When interviewing production folks -- both leads and team resources -- just think how much you can learn from the following quick examinations of talent:
How diverse is their work, and how much depth is there?
Candidates may have worked in a lot of places, which potentially is a positive, but how robust were their roles at each stop along the way? Were they entrusted with numerous projects -- not just one -- before they moved along? We like to see at least one production cycle (4-6 months), if not several.
What about the level of comfort with the development?
In considering talent for a lead role, for example, candidates don't necessarily need to code, but they must know how everything works. They must be versed in how the work gets done -- not distant from it.
Similarly, in that key lead role, they must understand pricing.
They will be intimately involved in scoping projects. If they don't know how the work gets done, by whose hand, task by task, and how much time things take, how can they possibly own projects and price them accurately for you?
When vetting resources, listen when they rattle off their skills.
As a hiring project manager, anyone you are considering to join your team should know one or two things really well -- and be versed in others. But if presented a litany of skills, listen very closely, because certain blends just won't make sense. If they reveal their coding chops or knack for non-linear video editing but then express a love of studying formats, animation design, and graphical user interface, the mix is out of whack and potentially not legitimate.
If you are looking at freelancers, some key basics to uncover include asking how many other projects they have, and whether they have scheduled upcoming vacations -- and a working internet connection and cell phone. Don't be caught flat-footed and don't forget to ask.