interview with experts
Nadezhda Lvova
IT-recruiter of the Mail.Ru Group
Nadezhda Lvova, the IT-recruiter of the Mail.Ru Group, shares her headhunting experience with the Staya.vc portal.
Mail.Ru Group
The Mail.Ru Group is developing a single integrated web service platform for communication and entertainment. The company owns the leading email service, one of the largest web portals in the Russian segment of the Internet (according to theTNS Index, it is used throughout Russia by people aged 12–64, April 2016), the My.com international integrated web service platform for communication and entertainment, Russia's major social networks, VK.com and Odnoklassniki, a number of popular online games, including such projects as Warface, Armored Warfare, Skyforge, and Perfect World, the MAPS.ME service of offline maps and mobile navigation based on OpenStreetMap data, as well as the ICQ messenger, popular in Russia and the CIS.
― Good afternoon, Nadezhda. Thank you so much for agreeing to talk with us. Tell us, please, what exactly do you do in the company? Why did you choose IT? Was it just a series of events or an informed choice?

― Good afternoon, Viktoria. I recruit new employees in the Mail.Ru Group. I belong with the game development department and most often I hire CG artists. Why IT? For me, it was mostly a choice leading to computer games. Yes, of course, the IT industry is now one of the fastest growing areas; it's an exciting place full of kindred spirits, and so on and so forth. And yet, games are something that I have always been fond of, one way or another. So for me it was all pretty obvious—I wanted to be happy visiting the office every day.

Nadezhda Lvova
IT-recruiter of the Mail.Ru Group
― Tell us about the company, please. Why do you like working there?
— For me, the Mail.Ru Group means possibilities. Whether you're a junior modeller or an animation specialist—there's always something you can learn, new ways to level up and find out something new. Our company occupies 27 floors and several more offices in different cities, full of incredibly cool people, always ready to help and respond.

We have projects on UE4, on Unity, and on self-written engines. I think CG artists should know that in terms of style, we have a wide variety of games, from cartoons and good-natured fantasy to sci-fi and photorealism.

I really like that there's always someone in the office, meaning that people like to be there. Someone works while sitting in Starbucks, while another person may prefer a massage chair. You enter the office in the evening to see people testing a new VR project or brainstorming to create new cartoon characters. After work, someone plays volleyball or does fitness.
When you enter the elevator in the morning, you greet everyone, and everyone greets you back.
Of course, sometimes it is not easy, especially when, you know, 'the deadline was yesterday' or we are expecting a release. It's always a challenge and it really is an interesting job.
― Does the company's brand help in finding employees?
― We are the largest web and gaming company in the country—of course, the brand helps.

We have job openings at any given time, because we are constantly launching new projects and looking for people to join them.

For example, now we are looking for concept artists, 2D animators, FX artists, and also a good 3D environment artist. Moreover, the Mail.Ru Group has a strong advantage—we have lots and lots of different projects in our extensive portfolio, including mobile, client, and console games. There is a genre to fit every taste; there are shooters, MOBAs, and RPGs.

A big plus is that you are free to choose any software you want: you can work with Maya, 3DMax, MODO, or 3D Coat. You can use what you already know and like or learn something new.
What non-trivial sources do you use to attract applicants?

― We are widely represented at events, and we are also looking to master new recruiting services. The main thing is that we are processing all applications, even if we have no openings at the moment, and we never forget good candidates.


― Is it easy to select the right applicant and what are the key factors?
― Not easy at all. We want to find someone who suits us perfectly, after all! However, we consider both experienced specialists and beginners. Our guys do their best to invest in the new employees, to train them and help develop. All in all, we are ready to fly together into space, if necessary.

As for the factors, it is hard to say: each job has its own selection criteria. For example, sometimes a person must have a good command of some game engine, and sometimes it is important that the candidate is good at organic modelling in Zbrush. Everything depends on the project which has an opening, and we always clearly describe who we would like to see in this position in the job description.
― What difficulties do you face when searching for candidates?
― Sometimes we need a person very urgently, and there are very few such specialists in the market. In this case, the search is indeed very complicated.

Another important thing concerns the portfolio and its content. The thing is that applicants often fill the portfolio with works they consider the most attractive. Something with a large number of polygons, or based on a fan art. Of course, this is great as well. However, for us to assess the portfolio work-wise, we need to see widely diverse content. If you think that no one wants to see low poly in the portfolio, because it obviously looks worse next to a model with a bunch of triangles, you are wrong. It is important for us to understand that a person can really do work tasks. And of course, if you haven't made it once, do not give up. Better keep moving forward and developing your skills, and then everything will work out for sure.
― Describe the process of hiring employees, please. How many stages are there?
― As a rule, an interview with the HR manager comes first, then the candidate is given a test task, or we conduct the second part of the interview—this time with the immediate supervisor. If everything goes well, the last stage is a meeting with the head of the studio or the project manager, where we agree on the terms of employment. Sometimes we may give a test task at the very beginning, sometimes at the very end. It all depends on the candidate and the job.
― Could you tell us about the most memorable interview you've had so far?
— There was once an applicant from another city, who was coming for an interview. The fun began when his morning flight to Moscow was rescheduled to 7 hours earlier. That is, on Wednesday evening he realized that he had a flight in a few hours. The adventures did not end there, because his flight back was delayed too due to weather conditions. I was always in touch with him in case he needed some help from the company. After a late departure, the plane did not land in his hometown because of the snow and arrived to another airport, 500 km away from the destination, and that person had 7 more hours to go by train. He endured all the hardships bravely and it did pay off. Now he works with us (smiles). When a candidate suits us, we try to help them transfer to our company as easily and comfortably as possible. We are often asked to help find an apartment when relocating or tell something about the city, and we always try to provide a warm welcome and to do everything we can.
— Nadezhda, thank you for your honest and comprehensive answers. We wish you to find new employees as easily as it can be.
― Viktoria, thank you very much, it was very exciting. I'd be happy to come again.
Interviewer
Phone: +7 499 110 34 82 доб 17
E-mail: hello@staya.vc
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