How to prepare for a games industry job interview
You finally got that call, email or carrier pidgeon in with the news: You’ve been offered an interview at a game studio! So, how do you prepare for your first games industry interview and leave a great first impression?
Lets start, straight off the bat, with a key piece of advice: It’s ok to take notes into an interview. It’s ok to refer to your notes when you’re asked a question. It’s also more than ok to make notes during your interview, we actually strongly recommend it. You can use these notes when comparing opportunities, or to help you keep track of conversations for later interviews.
Research the company
You’d be surprised how many people skip this step and go into an interview with no idea what games the studio makes. You might’ve sent out hundreds of CVs to game studios in your job search and honestly, we can’t blame you if you’ve struggled to keep track. But once you’re through to the interview it is go-time. You need to start by researching the studio. This is going to help you hold conversation, answer questions and plan your own questions.
This can catch the best of us out. Where is your interview going to be? Is it face to face or through video call? You need to make sure you have a full address if in person and plan out exactly how you get there and how long the route is. If it’s a video call find out whether it’s in teams, zoom, or discord. Ensure you set up any accounts you need, and a webcam, or something to prop your phone up with if you intend to use your phone.
What games has the company worked on? Do you play them? You can look at the reviews for the games or forums. Do you know what it is they are currently working on? You want to wow these people with a passion for the games they have created, that you want to help create. And if the role is something more on the commercial side then a good understanding of their product, audience and customer reception will go a very long way.
You should learn who the company leaders are, who is the boss? Find out who the interviewer is and connect with them on linkedin. Take a look at some of the senior members of staff and managers, and see what they are posting, do they have their own portfolios online? These people are at the level you want to grow into. They are also the best indication of company culture you will find at this stage.
“Bosses don’t mind connecting, but always send that extra note saying ‘I’m going for an interview with your company, I thought it’d be great to have you in my professional network.’ “Kim Parker Adcock, Owner and MD of One Player Mission
How long has the company, or studio, been around? Has it seen any major changes in that time? Is there a story there? Look for games industry news articles, maybe you will come across an old controversy you’d like to address, maybe they have recently won an award you’d like to mention.
What to wear to a games industry interview
This comes up a lot, what do I wear to my interview? Honestly, the games industry is generally quite casual. Ensure your clothes are clean, ironed and in good condition of course, but if you show up in a suit you might get a few odd looks.
Generally we say go for casual but tidy clothing with a hint of smart, think jeans, shirt and a jumper, but shorts are best avoided. For ladies you cant go wrong with something like jeans and a blouse, or a casual but modestly cut dress. Avoid anything seethrough, overly revealing or short and do not wear anything printed with profanities or inappropriate images. If you’re ever in doubt, just ask them what their dress code is! Some studios may have different standards, so you wont be scrutinized for asking the question.
Your interviewer is also very unlikely to care if you have tattoos or peircings, so unless they depict something considered inappropriate, you shouldnt worry about needing to cover them up.
Why Should They Hire You?
You need to show off who you are. What are you proud of? What have you achieved? Write down a few points, keep them short and easy to refer back to. Use your research, did you find something that resonated with you? Share it. Is there something in particular you would like to highlight from your portfolio that you’re proud of? Explain why.
If for any reason you’re questioning this yourself, remember that to get this interview they already see something in you that fits the bill. But the only person who can prove how good a fit you are for this job is you. You need to advocate for yourself.
Kim Parker Adcock, Owner and MD or One Player Mission
“The people you’re meeting in interviews have been where you are and they know how you feel. They want you to be successful because they don’t want to keep having to interview lots and lots of people. They want you to be the one. You need to remember that when you go in there.”
S.T.A.R. Is a methodical approach to answering questions. Nothing is more stressful in the run-up to an interview than worrying about what questions the interviewer is going to ask but having a fool-proof structure can help keep you on-topic and make sure you cover everything you need to.
Download the PDF on S.T.A.R. and start practicing.
You can use this method throughout your interview and when talking through work in your portfolio.
Prepare answers to commonly asked questions
What questions do you get asked in a games industry job interview? The most common ones are the same in or out of the games industry. These are a few frequently asked questions we hear at job interviews. Having your answers to these questions prepared in advance will save a lot of panicking. And we really cannot stress enough that it is perfectly ok to take and use notes in your interview.
Theres anticipating the questions, then theres understanding why the questions are being asked. Knowing what the interviewer is really trying get out of you is half the battle. Once you’ve figured that out, knowing how to answer is a breeze.
Tell me about yourself
This is likely the first question your interviewer will ask. This question is for the interviewer to get their bearings. Realistically they will not have spent a long time going over your application that day, they’ve been going through one interview after another. You do not need to give your long-winded personal life story here. This is a simple summary of your relevant and professional experience as detailed in your portfolio and CV.
Why do you want to work for us?
Use your research here and show some enthusiasm. When torn between candidates who are otherwise equal – hiring managers will go for the person who wants the job more. Your answer to this question will be the make or break in this scenario.
What is your greatest weakness?
Employers use this question to understand what the best way to manage you will be and how that fits with their current team. But this is also really a great way to display a growth mindset, which is whats going to impress your interviewer. Identify a professional weakness, but also your awareness of it and how you are working improve. Marketing Manager, Nathan Adcock is a great example of this.
Instead of accepting that I was always going to struggle with an ever-changing workload, I harnessed the power of effective planning using my workload planner. Now, I tackle projects methodically, and don’t feel the stress of last minute deadlines anywhere near as much as I used to. A growth mindset turned my weaknesses into a strategic advantage, making me more productive and reliable.Nathan Adcock, One Player Mission Marketing Manager
What are your future goals?
Do not answer this question with ‘I want to set up my own business’ or that you would like to work your way into a completely different position. And avoid personal goals, like buying a house or getting a horse, this isn’t what they are looking for. Companies want to know your goals align with theirs and you are not using this role as a placeholder. One way to answer this question is to reframe it in your mind: How will this role help grow your career in a direction you are proud of? Think: making a name for yourself in the industry, developing skills, mentoring others, taking on bigger projects.
Prepare your own Questions.
It’s the end of your interview and you get the inevitable question; “Do you have any questions for me?“
If you haven’t already, this is where you bring your notebook out. Your answer to this question should never be ‘no’. Having good questions to ask ends the interview on a strong note, and shows you are interested and engaged in the process. So, always have some questions up your sleeve.
If conversation has been flowing and the topics you had planned to bring up have already been covered, then you should still highlight some of the exact questions you had intended to ask. This will give them the option to elaborate. And help them see that you did in fact come prepared.
Think about asking questions where you can relate the answers back to yourself and your suitability for the role. Asking about company culture for example, maybe you already have some idea what kind of answer this might be from your research. Respond to the answers you receive, mention how this aligns with how you like to work. You should always be finding and pointing out where your interests align with the role.