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How to Ace a Games Industry Job Interview
by Brice Morrison on 06/18/13 11:58:00 am   Expert Blogs

The following blog post, unless otherwise noted, was written by a member of Gamasutraís community.
The thoughts and opinions expressed are those of the writer and not Gamasutra or its parent company.

 

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Photo credit: oooh.oooh

This article is cross-posted from The Game Prodigy, a site for students and parents interested in careers in games. Visit for resources and a free 29-page Complete Toolkit.

The final stage before receiving a job offer in the games industry is an interview. These can be in person or over the phone (or both if it is a larger company), but this interview is the studio’s last chance to cut you loose before they decide to hire you and bring them onto your team.

So if you’ve gotten to this stage, congratulations! You have made fantastic progress in developing your skills, polishing your resume, earning your degree, and reaching the final boss. Now it’s time to really pull out all the stops and put your heart into preparing for this huge opportunity.

Preparing for an Interview?

Most people don’t prepare for job interviews at all. This is a mistake.

But Game Prodigy readers are smarter than that. The best students prepare for their interviews just like they would prepare for an exam. There is a lot you can do in the days leading up to an interview with a game studio insider that can help you be ready.

Three Steps to Nailing a Games Industry Interview

First, you want to make a list of likely questions. There are many common interview questions out there, some common ones in the games industry are:

  • Why do you want to work here?
  • What are your favorite games? Why?
  • (For engineers) Write code on the board to insert a node into a binary tree (or some other common data structure operation)
  • How much have you played our games?
  • What would you improve about one of our games?

In this preparation stage you should also do research on the company to learn as much as you can – what games they’ve made, who will be working there, and ideally who will be interviewing you.

Second, you want to prepare your answers to these questions. These can be written down. Make sure that they are clear and to the point and don’t ramble too much. Also be sure to incorporate any knowledge that you came up with in your research stage. Finally, be sure to answer in a way that plays to your strengths, the experience you put on your resume that will help the game studio understand how valuable you are as an asset.

Finally, practice answering these questions aloud. Of course you won’t be able to bring in a cheat sheet to the real interview, so you need to burn your answers into your memory. My favorite way to do this is to use a recording device such as an iPhone or computer mic and record myself asking the questions I wrote earlier. I play the question, then pause the tape and reply and answer my own question. With practice you start to learn your written questions and can improvise to come up with great, articulate answers. If you want to get serious, I also recommend recording yourself so that you can see how you sound and improve.

Even if these exact questions don’t come up in the interview, you’ll already be way ahead of the pack because you will have rehearsed many of the scenarios and ideas you’ll want to talk about.

Land the Job!

Some final tips for nailing your industry job interview:

  • Smile! Studies have shown that simply smiling has a huge effect on others’ evaluations of you
  • Be enthusiastic! While you don’t want to overdo it, everyone wants to work with someone who is excited to be there
  • Don’t get defensive if you are floundering and don’t know the answer to a question. Try your best, and if you don’t know, then don’t be afraid to say, “I don’t know”. Especially with game designers, being defensive when you could learn something is a big no-no

Best of luck!

This article is cross-posted from The Game Prodigy, a site for students and parents interested in careers in games. Visit for resources and a free 29-page Complete Toolkit. 


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Comments


Saurabh Navande
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There is a lot you can do in the days leading up to an interview with a game studio insider that can help you be ready. true story

Gary LaRochelle
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Some more questions to be prepared for:

1) Whatís Your Biggest Weakness?

2) What is your greatest accomplishment? At your last job, what was your greatest accomplishment?

3) Tell me about a time when you Ö (be prepared to think on your feet.)

4) Do you have any questions?


Small nit to pick...
"Be enthusiastic! While you donít want to overdo it, everyone wants to work with someone who...."
Who what?

Brice Morrison
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@ Saurbh, absolutely! Preparing for an interview is a great advantage.

@Gary, great questions to prep for. And thanks for pointing out the unfinished sentence, I've fixed it.


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