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Guild applications: Do you teach applicants or do you question their knowledge?

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Engaged in a bit of a philosophical debate with my guild right now.

My belief: An application is sent in for applicants to demonstrate their knowledge of their class and their contributions. I should not have to point out obvious incorrect gemming choices, specs, or how their playstyle is. That's not what this stage is for. It's like taking an exam and having the teacher provide you with all the answers. The purpose of the application then is from an evaluatory standpoint. The guild wants to know what the applicants know and what they believe in so they can either upvote them into the guild or downvote them into oblivion.

However, there are those who believe that there is nothing wrong helping a player solidify their knowledge of the game and their class by telling them exactly how they should be gemming, what they should be speccing along with additional resource sites to examine. The belief is we should help everyone that applies regardless of whether or not they get in.

As a GM, this worries me.

A, I think the time is better spent on other activities other than writing a wall of how to play Priest.
B, it undermines the overall recruiting process.

The guild doesn't benefit if I wave my epeen around with a giant wall of text about how an applicant is wrong in areas X, Y and Z. Not to mention when future patches come down the road, what're they going to do? They might not know how to actually read or research into stuff without relying on the efforts of someone else.

I think the best compromise in this case is to simply question applications, maybe ask them why they selected going down a particular path/spec/stat choice and letting them answer without telling them why they're right or wrong. From the answers, we can then either choose to accept them or deny them. If we accept them, we can share with them what we know and whether we think their character augmentations are sound or what we would do instead.

I have a headache.
Posted May 30, 11 · OP
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If someone is applying for a raider position, they should know what they're doing. If they don't, it isn't up to the guild they are applying to to tell them how to play. I definitely say applicants should be questioned. Point out any oddities in their spec or gear and ask them to explain them.

Of course, there's nothing wrong with being helpful. If you have less busy/more generous guildmates who want to help out every applicant they should be free to do so, but teaching people about their class should never be expected of the people reviewing the apps.
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Posted May 30, 11
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A bit of both.

If the applicant took time to craft their application carefully and professionally, I ask questions in the expectation that they will know the answer, or, at the very least, know where they can find the answer. I don't try to trip them up or anything. Just a basic questionnaire to judge their knowledge of the class to help me decide if I should support them for a trial membership.

If they get the questions wrong, I explain what they have missed. And then I inform them that they are very likely not ready to be raiding with us.

If they are close, we can start a discussion on the topic.

If they are right, then all is good.

As for the general philosophy of an application, it's an application. They are applying for a position within your guild. They need to have the minimum qualifications to be considered for a position, and those qualifications should be shown on their application. Anything educational that transpires during the application process is a bonus.
Posted May 30, 11
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I think that questions need to come before advice, at least chronologically. In the early application phase advice can easily be taken as a checklist of what that applicant needs to do in order to be guaranteed an acceptance, so you're more likely to upset someone you end up having to turn down because they may see it as being rejected even after having done everything you told them to. Plus, once advice is given it's very difficult to assess why the advice was ever considered necessary in the first place. Asking why the applicants character was previously built the way it was can easily come off as overly critical nit-picking. Asking what resources the applicant used to determine their build is now pointless since they now have a ready build answer of "you/your guildie".

That said, though, I do think giving advice is a valuable part of the application process because it lets you gauge their reaction and determine whether or not their personality is likely a good fit with your guild. Does the applicant argue the point with your guildie? Accept the advice without question? Use it as a springboard to start a conversation? Explain why the common wisdom doesn't necessarily apply to their current situation? Call the advice-giver names for daring to question their 1337ness? At the very least it gives you an idea of how the applicant is likely to react if they're given constructive criticism once they're actually in the guild.
Posted May 30, 11
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This is why I love that our application process isn't in an open forum.

All of our apps are done via email. The app is posted in private forums, and comments are made. (the thread is also used for Initiate Review). Now, this isnt to say you arent going to provide feedback to an applicant regarding gemming, glyphs etc... but its something better suited for a vent interview. There is where you ask 'I see you've glyphed/gemmed/specc'd X... why is that?'. From their response you can tell if they are going to be worth pushing further questions.

Like Vandreigan, I agree: it depends on the applicant if its good to have a discussion. Sometimes, you reply... "ok, that is an option... however, it seems best to do X because of Y" short and sweet... no need to do into a diatribe about something. Just keep it simple. You don't need to teach them to play. You don't need to justify your position... they are apping to YOU.

If they get in, maybe then have a further conversation... maybe. who knows... you might learn something. That is... unless they were glyphing for PWS as holy or something crazy.

The crux of your issue... is you seem to have an applicant you need to explain where to get information, how to do certain things.... that isnt the type of player you generally would entertain beyond a "Thanks for the app, but we're going to pass. Good luck in your search." Nothing more is needed.
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Posted May 30, 11
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If it's a casual guild I could see it going either way... casual players aren't going to pour over theorycrafting to make sure what they are doing is 100% correct.

If it's a progression oriented guild that should be attracting players who (should) already know how to gem/enchant/spec then you shouldn't have to say much, outside things like "You would never be tank healing in our raid so the points in X talent would be better served elsewhere". From what I've seen of your guilds progression Matt, this is what I would expect.
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Posted May 30, 11
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I think it all depends on where you are placed atm with regards to progress.

If you are a high end raiding guild then and you are having to instruct on gemming principles, talent distribution and research material then its never going to be a good sign as to the calibre of person. These applicants will have chosen to apply based on what you are currently doing, its their responsibility to 'sell themselves' as best as they can.

That being said, there is a place for instruction. If a guild is still in the process of clearing normals and toe-dipping into heroics i dont see a massive issue with helping out or pointing them in the right direction.
We actually have a guild on our server that is in the process of rebuilding and are trying to sell applicants on the fact that they are an instructional guild and will try and develop people into the game. Its not that successful at the moment, but its something to commend for its good intentions.
Posted May 30, 11
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I think it's dependent on situation to a fair extent. As I mentioned in my post lamenting recruitment issues, my guild has slipped somewhat on the 'realm ladder' in the past couple of years, mainly due to RL influences causing folks to become more and more casual. As a result it has become harder to get solid applications, which makes it pretty hard to get good people when combined with several outside factors mentioned in that thread which make it harder to recruit for everybody save perhaps the few guilds at the top of the pyramid.

As a result, it has become more and more necessary to lower our standards somewhat. In the past we could afford to reject strongly flawed applications, which were by players who either showed a lack of effort or a lack of knowledge/competence. We did not demand utter perfection, but we would normally expect people to have a pretty good idea of what they were doing. Details could then be worked out later if the person's personality seemed suitable. (ie, open to constructive criticism)

More and more we have found ourselves in the situation where we are forced to take in players we might not have done before, but who while flawed have sufficient motivation and the right character to be molded into productive raiders, indeed at times taking on an educative role as guild. Ideally we'd obviously skip that, but with recruitment generally slim pickings on our realm, I guess you have to try and find some diamonds in the rough, rather than expecting them to show up on your doorstep some day. (A bit frustrating though when that Ret Paladin you trialed end up failing to dodge the Squall Lines on Al'akir about 15 tries in a row while trying to progress on that fight)

Obviously there is a certain quality threshold still which applicants need to meet for us to be willing to give it a try, despite a former recruitment officer of ours once famously stating "cluelessness can be cured". If we find major deficiencies in an applicant, we tend to question them on these to see how they respond and explain these issues. Still somewhat tricky at times however, since I don't want players to just blindly copy EJ without really knowing what they just said, tho on the other hand a completely clueless answer might of course point towards a trialist being a lost cause.

Summarizing I guess you could say our recruitment situation forced us to educate potential trialists to an extent, whereas we ask for explanation on applications to get an idea if there's a point giving the applicant a trial or if he/she is a lost cause. I try to avoid outright telling them in case of major problems though, since I doubt they will always learn from it, and finding out about their reasoning is an interesting way to judge an applicant. (If we trial them, we can always teach them once we get to that point) Somewhat similar to Matt I guess, though we are likely forced to be a bit more tolerant by our situation.
Posted May 31, 11
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I think there is room for a mix of both. If they are applying to a raiding guild then they should know their class to an acceptable level. For us, the application acts as the first impression. It does not have to be perfect but it should display the level of knowledge, understanding and commitment we want in a guildie. it is hard enough to get the majority to answer all the questions themselves let alone with 100% accuracy.

We also utilize vent interview to clarify things. People may have perfectly good reasons for not doing the cookie cutter spec/glyphs/etc, and even if not a good reason than it is something that can be fixed. Personality is also an important factor (for us at least) because we are somewhat of a tightly knit group. Some people do not have a social filter so to speak and sometimes it takes more than text to portray that.

I would agree that these days there are more "projects" than in the past. The recruitment pool is not as good as it used to be. Standards may need to be lowered to bolster the ranks. Sometimes this works out, but not everyone is willing to learn or adjust =/
Posted May 31, 11
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Matticus wrote:
I think the best compromise in this case is to simply question applications, maybe ask them why they selected going down a particular path/spec/stat choice and letting them answer without telling them why they're right or wrong. From the answers, we can then either choose to accept them or deny them. If we accept them, we can share with them what we know and whether we think their character augmentations are sound or what we would do instead.
This strikes me as the only reasonable approach. You want respect to be shown in both directions, and topics that let you get a chance to explore their thinking are invaluable. In fact, I'd argue that the reason is far more important than the result.

If I applied somewhere and my app was met with "gem for more haste, lol." then I would look elsewhere, even if they otherwise would have accepted me.
Posted May 31, 11
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