Richard Ludlow is the Audio Director and co-founder of Hexany Audio one of the world’s leading companies specializing in game audio. He recently shared his company’s process and his own thoughts on how he hires sound designers and other employees at Hexany. (adapted from Richard’s twitter feed, with permission)
Step One: Your Demo Reel:
Our very first steps is a blind review of demo reels. We don’t look at names, years of experience, resume, or anything else. We’ll pass if your reel isn’t excellent. And if your link doesn’t work, we move on. Pro Tip: Test your link a private window before sending. We’re looking to hire video game sound designers. If your reel is 100% film and doesn’t contain anything at all from a game and your resume doesn’t have anything related to games, you’re probably not the best fit for this position. We are 100% fine with sound re-designs that aren’t from titles you actually worked on. So long as they showcase your work, we don’t care if they are from a game you didn’t work on. Audio-only reels are no good. We need to see sound work done to picture to tell what your creative intent was. Music, abstract soundscapes, and raw SFX without video aren’t helpful, and if you don’t have any examples of sound to picture, we’ll pass on your application. While not a factor in elimination, we don’t love reels that are entirely ‘stylized’ work. If you’re submitting all 8-bit work, spells or abstract concepts, it can be more difficult for us to gauge your abilities… …for example, we prefer a cinematic demo that is somewhat grounded in the real world, because we know what that sounds like and we can tell if you were able to successfully craft a scene that has less room for creative interpretation and a more expected end result. Did you record everything in your reel yourself? Bonus points for creativity! But if the end result isn’t incredible, we do not favor your process over the end result. We need to know you can make something amazing & at this stage we care much less about how you did it.
Step 2: Your Application
At this point, if we like your reel, we’ll look at the rest of your application. If you didn’t follow the directions when applying (e.g. naming your files the correct way, etc.) we flag you as not having an attention to detail. Attention to detail is critical in game work. We don’t immediately eliminate you for this, but looking back, we’ve never actually hired someone who didn’t follow all of our instructions explicitly. From here we look at your cover letter & resume. Not many things will eliminate you from consideration at this point, but one can be experience… …We hear from industry-seasoned candidates that they want to be considered for entry-level positions. But if we’re hiring an assistant position, it means we want someone who is a blank slate we can train. Likewise if we are hiring for a position with a ‘minimum years of experience’, we want candidates to meet that minimum. Too much or too little experience are absolutely factors.
Step 3: Your Interview & Sound Test
Next up is an interview. It’s extremely rare we pass on someone due to culture fit, personality, or anything else in this first interview. We’re looking to get confirmation your resume was truthful and that you love games. If so, you’ll probably get a sound test. Assuming you got an interview, the sound test is the #1 determining factor for us in hiring. This is your chance to shine, and is the primary driving force in our hiring decisions for sound design positions. This deserves all of your love and attention. The next step is the follow-up interview. This is where we want you to dive into your process for the sound test. Talk shop, give us details, and ask us questions. This interview will include myself, our lead sound designer, producer, and potentially others. In-Person Interview: Assuming that went well, we’ll want you to come over at this point and meet the team, see the studio, and socialize with us. You’ll be asked additional questions about experience, etc. to see if we think you’ll be a good fit for the job and the team. Final Thoughts 1: 99% of questions we receive through email or DMs can be answered by reading the job description and application. Sending us a question that can be answered by reading the position details doesn’t help get you noticed, it just wastes everyone’s time. Final Thoughts 2: When hiring for our sound design positions we are very focused on the quality of your work. Devote time to making your reel incredible and you’ll rise to the top for sure, even if things aren’t a perfect fit for this particular position.
This process is specific to Hexany and may not reflect how other companies do their hiring, but regardless of where you are applying, you can probably take Richard’s advice to heart when applying for your next sound design gig.
Although every company is different, looking for different things or having different emphases, over the years I’ve seen similar advice given by multiple audio directors for game companies large and small. Have a great demo reel. Pay attention to detail. Establish credibility in the interview. Keep the resume scrupulously honest. Focus on the end result
So before you send in your application for that sound design job, whether you’re looking for full-time employment at a company or as a freelancer, consider how your demo and application will look from Richard’s perspective and you’ll improve your chances of landing that sound design gig.