Casual Hardcore has an excellent post, titled "Not All Guilds Are Created Equal," on the mental process you'll want to engage in before applying to a raiding guild. It dovetailed pretty neatly into a recent post by our own Matticus on "6 Ways to Reject a Guild App Without Sounding Like an Angry Ex." Both articles have a lot of sound advice that's well worth your time if you find yourself looking to change guilds or get into raiding; the former is written a bit more from the perspective of a player-applicant, the latter from the officers charged with saying yes or no.
While reading these, I was reminded of comments I've seen on guild applications during my time as a raider. Some simply expand upon the points addressed by Casual Hardcore and Matticus; others were slightly different sentiments people were prone to airing whenever they recognized certain undesirable patterns. I've never been a recruitment officer (my guild leader has correctly observed that, as a soft touch, I would cheerfully rubber-stamp every match-girl, axe-murderer, and mortgage lender on the server), but over time it's been hard not to get a sense of what that person would want to see when they open a new application:
1. Before you even apply, save yourself (and the guild) some time and figure out whether they're really what you want.
"Barry, didn't you meet this guy in a heroic VH before? I thought you said he was looking for a weekend raiding guild. There's no way he could make more than 50% attendance."
Do you prefer 10-mans or 25-mans? What's their schedule? Have you pugged with guild members previously, and what did you think of them? If you're a parent, are there other parents in the guild who will understand the need to take an occasional urgent /AFK? Are you OK with frequent pauses while raiding, or do you consider it a bad night if you've had to spend more than three hours doing a full Naxx clear?
This is more about you and your preferences than it is about them. If they've enjoyed a modicum of raiding success or they've just been around for a while (especially the latter), something about their system clearly works, and they're a lot more likely to change your gameplay than you are to change theirs. Something you don't like about them before you even apply is only going to get magnified once the guild's on progression content, you've wiped all night, trash respawns have just popped, and tempers are fraying. Save yourself the inevitable messy /gquit and don't apply if deep down you know you're not a good fit.
2. Raiding guilds often have a dedicated officer or member who handles recruitment. Conduct as much of your application business as possible through this person, even if you know the GM or members.
"Yep, I told the officer you were going to apply. She just said she's still waiting on your application at the website. Could you excuse me? I hate to be rude, I'm just in the middle of an Oculus run."
If you know the GL or an officer of the guild you'd like to join personally, by all means send a private inquiry and let them know if you've decided to apply. Otherwise, stick to the guild's preestablished channels. Your case will almost certainly be dealt with a lot faster if it goes to the person who does nothing but handle recruits. If the guild leader isn't handling recruitment personally, it's probably a safe bet that he/she doesn't really have the time for it, and while members usually exercise some influence (often a lot of influence) over whether you're admitted, they won't ultimately be the person to say yes or no.
3. Don't lie. Most guilds have the resources to find out if you're telling the truth.
"No way did that guy get through Sunwell. One of the officers for the last guild he's listing said they kicked him at Kalecgos. He threw a temper tantrum when the bracers he wanted went to a healer who was still using the badge ones. Do we really want to deal with that?"
Raiding guilds often maintain a sort of weirdly professional relationship with each other. Members will have swapped between them, the officers may already know each other, and there's often a friendly (or not so friendly) rivalry between them. On my realm, there's even a decent amount of cross-faction communication, which was how we found out that an applicant who had rerolled Horde from a major Alliance guild was an inveterate guild-hopper: "Thank you for your application, but we do not feel we are a good fit for you at this time."
If you don't tell the truth on your application, odds are good that whoever's reading it will find out. People like nothing better than to swap gossip over why someone's really leaving a guild, and this is 100 times more true if you've pulled some stunt in the past that pissed them off.
4. Corollary to #3: the person in charge of saying "yes" or "no" has a very strong incentive to make sure you're not lying or exaggerating on your application.
"Yeah, I know the last pally we got didn't work out so well. You tell me every day."
If you get accepted and then don't show up to raids or underperform when you do, the recruitment officer's not going to be happy about it. From their perspective, you represent a mistake on their part, and that may cause trouble for them. They don't want to bring people into the guild who reflect badly on their judgment. Keep that in mind while writing your application and during the trial period (whether it's a formal or informal one) after your acceptance. You want to reassure the guild that you are a safe bet. See #8.
Reasons 5-8 >>