How to handle games interviews
Our experts Karen McLoughlin, Ian Goodall, Claire Boissiere and Ed Perkins gave lots of advice on how to tackle interviews.
Interviews are conversations where you get to know each other. Ed suggests you “put forward the best version of yourself.” Karen recommends you “do your best to stand out. Be bold, be inventive, show your passion.” Ian, Claire and Ed all said “Go for it!”. You may be tested on your technical skills, but demonstrate your professional skills and show you’re pleasant to work with.
Ian says don’t overdress: “Games is a very relaxed industry. Be clean and tidy, but no suits and ties.” Claire thinks “it doesn’t matter about colour of hair or piercing, it’s about professionalism. Presentation is not important as long as you don’t look like you’ve rolled out of bed, which can be off-putting!” Karen agrees: “Being different is OK. We would never hold it against you.”
All our experts were reassuring about nerves. Ed said “no-one feels 100% natural in an interview.” Nerves won’t deflect most interviewers from assessing who you are and what you can bring to a studio. Claire says “nerves don’t impact what I think about candidates. You ignore nerves because it’s not their fault.” Karen says “don’t worry about nerves. We know that nerves are to be expected and will do our best to put you at ease”.
Researching the studio is critical. Ian says “Do your research. Find out about your interviewer, you can find out who they are on LinkedIn, what games they’ve made. Find out about the studio, its tech, platforms and games.” Ed concurs: “I actively want to see that preparation, so research the company and have an opinion on them. It doesn’t hurt to do some LinkedIn research into your interviewer.”
Answering their questions
Try to connect answers to what you’ve done, your education, your projects and your goals. Ian suggests “studios will probably ask you how you’ve worked in teams and under pressure. Give examples. Talk critically about the games that you like or have worked on, think about why you like the games, the challenges in the games from a technical point of view, how you would make them better.” Strengths/weaknesses questions show your self-awareness, your room for growth and capacity to learn. Being self-critical will show interviewers how you evaluate your work, how you handle feedback and how you tackled challenges.
Ed thinks being opinionated is fine: “Don’t be afraid of having a slightly controversial opinion either. As long as you have the facts to back it up, be authentic, say something you believe in.”
“I don’t know” is fine
“Don’t be afraid of ‘I don’t know’” says Ed. “Just acknowledge it and we’ll just move onto the next topic.” Claire agreed. “I’d much rather someone said I don’t know about that but I’ve been working on this.”
Telling your story
Tell the story from your CV and cover letter in your interview. Claire advises “Draw a conclusion between the skills that you’ve developed and the work you’ve done, draw that into a story that says who you are.”
Knowing what you want
The more self-aware you are of your career goals, the better. Claire said “Work out what it is you want to do. What is the exact job that you want? You have to start somewhere, so narrow it down a little bit.” You might be asked the ‘where do you want to be in 5 years’ time’ question. Don’t be shy. Showing ambition and drive is a good thing.
Asking good questions is critical and we’ll have a whole course step on questions later this week.
Off the beaten track
Don’t just focus on games development. Show who you are and what you’d be like to work with. Ed says “I love it when people come in and talk about their passions outside of games. It reflects well on them.”
Ed advised standing out by starting “writing, start coding, start designing. There are so many free tools and engines that can help you get that stuff down, help your creative flow and help you figure out what you want to do.” Claire agreed. “When you’re looking at free tools and creating something, think about the roles you want to apply for and make your work with these tools relevant.”