Three developers talk on a sofa

Practical interview tasks

What practical tasks should you expect to complete in an interview? What you’ll be asked to do varies based on your chosen role:

Programmer

Tasks
A common practical task for a programmer is to code up a small piece of code to demonstrate the technical skills defined in the job description in an hour. It might be done on site or more rarely remotely, but it’s rare for the task to be greater than that.

Preparation
You could try practising short, common sense tasks based on the technical skills from the job description. One thing studios look for is how you comment on the code but ultimately the test is about what level you code at and your style. Our experts said that often this is not a pass or fail-style test, only an indication of what you can currently do. It’s also common for your code to be reviewed with follow up questions from a seasoned programmer to understand your knowledge of the coding language you’ve used. Most studios have reasonable expectations for the level of understanding of a code language or task at entry level but it’s worth brushing up on the basics before you go in.

Artist

Tasks
While all studios will want to see and discuss your portfolio, some studios ask candidates to do timed tests using common art software tools or sometimes to deliver specific styles or assets to a brief, especially if the role is specialist. While it is ultimately a value judgement on the quality of portfolio, our experts told us that they are looking at line quality, technical skills, proportions, how well the asset sits in the world, how well realised is the idea, can they understand the story being told through environments and characters. Although an art director is usually the final arbiter of choice of one candidate over another, many assess portfolios in teams and get more than one opinion.

Preparation
It is worth reviewing the art style of the studio’s recent games and ensuring that what you pick to put into your portfolio is a good match with what they are looking for. You could focus your preparation by practising creating assets based on a common sense request from the technical skills in the job description. For example, if you’re interviewing for a junior character artist role, you could review characters from 2-3 most recent games from the studio and practise creating artwork that matches the look and feel of those games.

Designer

Tasks
Studios will want to discuss the design of a sample game with you. They might ask you to pick one, and then demonstrate a clear understanding of what the core mechanic of the game is, what the core loops are, what the meta-gameplay, progression and upgrade paths are, and, for some types of game, how the studio will make money from the game. Your choice of game depends on whether you’ve brought a game you designed or one of the studio’s own games to dissect. If you’re bringing in a game designed in a team, be ready to answer clearly what is your own work versus a team’s work. Either way, expect to be quizzed on a game’s design choices and level design.

Preparation
Choose a game you know and like, review all its features critically and think about how you would improve it. It’s OK to bring in notes or even props. One tip from recruiters is that you don’t always have to bring in a digital game. A few of our experts mentioned that candidates who walk in with something tangible in their hands can show a different way of non-linear thinking that studios like to find in candidates.

Producer

Tasks
There’s no portfolio for a producer but you will be asked to demonstrate your project management/prioritisation skills, describe your management style or detail some typical daily activities you would perform as a producer. If the job description lists a specific project management methodology such as Agile or SCRUM, then familiarise yourself with these techniques before interview. Also, note that producers interviewing candidate producers will be sensitive to someone talking about “I did this” versus “we did this”. They will want to see someone who has the individual as well as team skills to manage a team.

Preparation
Think laterally about how you could demonstrate your professional skills. You could show video of an event you organised, then describe how you organised it. You could bring in a project plan that demonstrates how you manage a project or a team. Like the designers, you might try bringing in something tangible that demonstrates your approach to project and team management.

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