How many job tests one needs ?

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  11 November 2012
It makes sense to ask a Junior Artist to do an "Art test" to see if he is up for the job. But for a Senior artist with like +5 years of experience, I wouldn't do it.

One thing though is that a Personnal or Professional portfolio can sometimes be really misleading. Especially in Movie, when people can't show their assets and instead just show frames of the movie when there is been tone of compositing over it. And in personal artworks, sometimes it looks really cool but took a while too complete.

At the end it's most of time a risk and before actually working with the person you don't know if it will be a good fit or not. ( except with people that has a lot of experience and has demonstrated a lot of time their awesomeness ) .
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  11 November 2012
Originally Posted by unparent: Kind of shocked to hear people won't take a test, we require it of everyone for every production position. Every company I've worked for has done it that way. If someone says they won't take a test, I don't care who they are, what their reel looks like, years experience, or previous projects it's an immediate denial. The tests aren't extreme and it's not just the final model/image/animation that counts. It's your attitude about it, and most of all (which many applicants don't understand) is that it's your chance to test the studio. Think about the kind of direction they give, what sort of reference material, concept images, timeframe, clarity on expectations, etc... If you get crappy information on a test, you're going to get crappy direction when working there. I've always created tests so what I deliver to the applicant is the same level of information an employee in that position gets. I've only worked at very reputable companies so I've never seen a test used as an asset. Some companies will even do something where the test is similar to what they want, but isn't in the scope of the game. For example if we are making a desert fps, you may get asked to model a scuba guy. Same level of detail and quality, but out of the current scope of the game. In most cases companies 'shouldn't' ask for the source files, that way it's obvious it won't be used, and any test material should be allowed to be used in the artists portfolio. Tests should only be given after 1-2 interviews to make sure the company is interested in you as talent and a personality fit. If you don't get hired based on the test, the company owes you a quick critique and suggestions on things you might want to improve upon and not just walk away and fire off a form letter. Also, the 1-3 month probationary period is great, but not a test substitute. If we relocate you from the other side of the country or world it can be a large expense and we want to be sure about that hire.

Hell, I've got 14 years experience, shipped 15+ games on 3 generations of consoles and PC (with more than 21 million units combined sales), and I did a test with no whining. Had a couple clarification questions, and then did it. This was after 1 phone interview, one skype interview, and 2 in-person interviews. If you want the job, take the test.....

(to be clear also, this is from a game dev perspective, no idea about other development areas)


If I was asked to do a test under those circumstances, then yes, I'd absolutely do it. The difference it seems is that your company and many companies you've worked for apparently request tests towards the end of the hiring process. The company has spoken to the potential hire, interviewed them multiple times and a test is simply the clencher, a guarentee/insurance for spending money on relocation and hiring expenses.

What I think a lot of people, including myself, have issues with is when the test is the beginning of the hiring process with no interviews before, and even worse, no interviews/follow-up afterwards. A test should be used to seal a deal, not as a quick blanket solution to filter through hundreds of applicants.
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  11 November 2012
You shouldn't need to take more than 1 test for a specific role. That test should only be needed if you couldn't demonstrate enough skill through your reel/portfolio.

Additionally it makes no sense to take a test on current work from the employer. Whatever you create should essentially be useless apart from helping you land the actual gig.
 
  11 November 2012
Originally Posted by Ethervoid: But isn't this the norm for anybody job seeking in this day and age in any area?


No. I've been working in visual effects for close to 13 years and not once have I ever, ever been asked to do an art test. I've only heard of it being done in the game industry.

For the people here defending this practice, answer me this: if art tests are so necessary then how is it that VFX studios are doing fine without it?
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  11 November 2012
Originally Posted by leigh: No. I've been working in visual effects for close to 13 years and not once have I ever, ever been asked to do an art test. I've only heard of it being done in the game industry.

For the people here defending this practice, answer me this: if art tests are so necessary then how is it that VFX studios are doing fine without it?


In defense to my post, I am just starting out in this industry and the job is for extensive stereo roto.
 
  11 November 2012
Tests also feel sleazy, to me, because they make two unspoken assumptions:

- everyone is comfortable installing dubious cracked versions of expensive DCC apps on their home workstation (not every app has a save-enabled demo available)

- everyone has ready access to a decently-fast 3D workstation

Some people are cool with those, but I'm not crazy about them.
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  11 November 2012
Originally Posted by zzacmann: If I was asked to do a test under those circumstances, then yes, I'd absolutely do it. The difference it seems is that your company and many companies you've worked for apparently request tests towards the end of the hiring process. The company has spoken to the potential hire, interviewed them multiple times and a test is simply the clencher, a guarentee/insurance for spending money on relocation and hiring expenses.

What I think a lot of people, including myself, have issues with is when the test is the beginning of the hiring process with no interviews before, and even worse, no interviews/follow-up afterwards. A test should be used to seal a deal, not as a quick blanket solution to filter through hundreds of applicants.


Tests should never be the first step, that is a waste of everyone's time and energy. If someone wants that, then just say no, they probably aren't the kind of company you want to work for. It should always be the final stage in the process. Even if the test isn't "awesome!" you still may hire the person based on something that did catch your eye. Maybe the characters face looked funny, but the texture work, topology, scene organization, delivery, thought process, personality, or energy is excellent and some perceived weaknesses can be hammered out.

If I get 100 resumes a week there isn't enough time to go through that many test files. I barely have enough time to go through the resumes, websites, and reels. Probably 80%+ of the resumes/reels wouldn't warrant a test for one reason or another and it's just a waste of everyone's time and effort.

As far as the VFX vs. games, I can't really comment but only speculate since I've only worked in games. From the vfx people I've known it 'seems' to be a bit more short term contract based positions. Contracts can be renewed or not at the end of the contract/project. For that type of position, I probably wouldn't give anyone a test. I know in games if the position is short term contract, one is not normally given. Tests are mainly given to game people who are going to be full time staff positions meant to be working with the company for many years over the life of the project(s). Sure things can happen, loss of funding, cancelled projects, layoffs, etc... but the intent is a full time multi-year/project position, so in that light a test is a good way to judge a person.

(like I said, this is my own 'reasonably uneducated' speculation from a vfx outsider, but game veteran, so it may be completely off base.)
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  11 November 2012
Well, indeed, tests are also a test for an employer. I did numerous tests, and took them as an investment. Usually they took something like 1-2 days tops.
For example employer's attitude makes a difference. Once I asked an employer "what''s your company? Do you have a website?" The answer was "oh, and you work only with top companies?" (the irony). And there are many employers like this, which I refuse working further simply based on their attitude. Maybe I'm too sensitive? But is being polite is out of fashion?
Especially it matters when the organization of the work is poor, and the concept is not clear, and they demand on constant concept revisions. If a test is like this, then it's clear what kind of troubles you get into. I once did a test for a game, and got "I'm not a designer, but I think you got not much experience in texturing." If you're not a designer, how can you prepare and yet test people? This already says a lot.
Unfortunately, in gaming industry tests are quite constant, so you just have to take the rules. Unless you have build yourself reputation in this area, and people are asking you to work for them firsthand.
 
  11 November 2012
Originally Posted by unparent: If you don't get hired based on the test, the company owes you a quick critique and suggestions on things you might want to improve upon and not just walk away and fire off a form letter.


I really like this idea. If you are going through the effort of a test, I think the company should at least give you a quick response with some helpful feedback. I took a 20 hour test one time and never heard back, which felt a little disrespectful. I would have liked one of their artists to take 10 minutes and say "Hey, we aren't going to hire you, but here are some things you can improve." I don't think that's asking too much, and it would help me view the test as an investment rather than a gamble.
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  11 November 2012
Quote: Tests should never be the first step, that is a waste of everyone's time and energy. If someone wants that, then just say no


Seriously though, that completely contradicts what you literally just said in your previous post, about immediate denial, impression of bad attitude or laziness etc. Its all about perception really, because actually a lot of very major studios do the test as a first cull...

Oh hey this artist looks good, ok send them our stock test, gets test back, meh. Repeat.
 
  11 November 2012
tests and source files

I have had a few places ask me to do tests and also send back the source files with the final image ( I declined). Has anyone else been asked for the source files back? I asked the guy why and he said that they wanted to look at "how I did the work". I think the final image should speak for itself so I find this a little annoying.
 
  11 November 2012
It depends on the person applying. If youre fresh out of uni with only your uni portfolio to show for yourself then I can see how an art test of a short amount of time (few hours tops) might be needed to weed out those who plagurised their way through the course or didnt have quite the input on their portfolio items they claim to have.

But for someone who has years of experience, a long track record and shipped products, then yes it is a bit insulting. Ive been asked to do free work on a project to prove I can do it only once. Within minutes of being asked to do it I shook the guys hand and said no thanks, then walked out the door, thats not the sort of company I'd ever want to work for; even if they offered me the job I wouldnt take it.

Im not wholly against the idea of proving you can do a job. To take someone else's analogy, if the trucker had been asked to spend 5 minutes showing the company how to hitch up a trailer, then that would be a reasonable test to weed out any liars or fraudsters. A cook applying to a kitchen can show his ability spending 3 minutes frying a steak.

The objection here is that studios use this a) to get free work from the gullible and b) casually asking multiple people to do days of work because they think they can get away with it. The OP has been asked to do 2-3 tests from one company? how utterly incompetent is the hiring department that they either cant see his skill from his work, or at least after one test? Asking him to do a second or third test is beyond belief.

@ Unparent: youve proven yourself over and over, year after year, product after product, yet youre still happy to jump when the studio says jump? Next time why not turn around and tell the hiring person youre going to give their company a 2 day test to see if theyre up to your standards? I see no difference between a company asking 20 people to do a test and one employee asking the company of 20 people to do a test for him.
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Matthew O'Neill
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  11 November 2012
Just sounds like another way to exploit people desperate to get into CG.

Of course a test makes it easier to make a decision, it's a beautiful system for the studios. Sucks for people trying to get work. But as long as people are willing to do it, and obviously they will cause people need work, this practice will continue. A studio would have no reason to stop asking for tests.
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-Michael

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  11 November 2012
Yeah I wouldn't do a test either. I would rather spend time finding my own clients. I have heard of studios asking for tests that last a week plus they want the source files and the work is non disclosure so you cant use it afterwards. That is just hearsay though I have never suffered that first hand.

Never give away source files and never sign an NDA without money up front. Ever. Charge a reasonable price for your files and spend time looking for a good studio or solution. There really are good businesses out there, they are just difficult to find.
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  11 November 2012
Originally Posted by conbom: Seriously though, that completely contradicts what you literally just said in your previous post, about immediate denial, impression of bad attitude or laziness etc. Its all about perception really, because actually a lot of very major studios do the test as a first cull...

Oh hey this artist looks good, ok send them our stock test, gets test back, meh. Repeat.


I said tests should be given after one or two phone/Skype interviews. Typically a first, very quick discussion is with an HR person, then to the Lead for a 'real' interview. Usually phone/Skype, but perhaps in person if they are local. If offered a test after that and the applicant refuses, then it can be pretty much over. This will be my last post on the subject, since every companies methods are different and people are pretty much decided on how they feel, so I'll just leave it at that.
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