Nailing Your Game Design Interview Questions (Part 2)

In part 1 we revealed three of the most common questions you are likely to face when heading in to a game design job interview. Here in part 2, we continue with three more…

What would you say is your biggest weakness?

This is another one of those questions that you should assume you’ll be asked in just about any interview. Admitting your flaws to the person that will decide if you get the job or not may seem like a lose/lose situation, but there is a way to answer and come out looking like the ideal employee.

The trick is to confess an honest weakness of yours and then follow it up with how you’ve improved or try to deal with it.

For example, say that you have a habit of checking and rechecking your work often, which results in more time spent on a project. You can admit this but with a positive flavor to it by saying it’s because you want everything to be high-quality and as close to perfect as possible.

After that, you can then discuss how you’ve improved upon that weakness to demonstrate an ability to learn and grow. This is best done by using a previous job as an example. Going with the habit of rechecking too often, you can say that in your last job you taught yourself to avoid rechecking too much and thus now have the ability and confidence to produce excellent content the first time around

Many recruiters have also confirmed how important the time it takes the interviewee to respond is. Responding almost immediately may give the impression of your weakness being so blatantly obvious that previous employees had to bring it up on several occasions.

Of course, taking a long time to answer may lead the interviewer to think you’re trying to formulate an answer that isn’t exactly honest but sounds good.

The other secret to this question is not so much in the answer but how long you take to respond. If you answer too quickly, you might be suggesting that you already know all your worst points because they are blatantly obvious and you’ve been told so many times.

If you take too long, it will seem as if you’re searching for an answer that sounds good, doesn’t make you look bad, and is something the interviewer would be happy to hear. Again, it gives the perception that you are being ingratiating rather than honest.

How would you improve a game you’re currently playing?

You may have noticed that game developers don’t really hire people based purely on the fact that they play games a lot. This is because being extremely good at a particular game or genre doesn’t necessarily mean you’d be any good at designing one yourself.

What most studios are looking for are people who, while playing the game, are thinking about why it’s good, how it can be better, which mechanics would be great in another game, and so on.

This attribute is so important that this question is asked to not just potential design recruits but artists, composers, and other positions. Even if you’ll only be doing concept art or testing the game, devs want to bring in people that will grow involved in the project and be able to voice a reasonable opinion no matter what department they work in.

So to actually answer this question, it of course depends on the game you talk about. But no matter which title you choose, make sure you don’t spend too much time complaining about a problem and instead focus on your idea to improve it.

This is especially important if you’re criticizing a game that the company where you’re interviewing developed, although some are impressed when you are willing to pinpoint a flaw in their game.

Do you hate a certain weapon or ability in your favorite multiplayer game because it is overpowered? Be prepared to offer good ideas on how you’d tone it down without making it completely useless or unfun.

It also helps to pick a criticism that most people agree upon, otherwise you’ll come off as petty and nit-picky.

What is your favorite game and why?

Sometimes this question is also rephrased as “What is the best game of all time and why?”, but the answer they’re looking for is the same.

Essentially they’re looking to see if you can not only identify a good game but also communicate why it is so great. Note that even if you honestly think a certain game is awesome, the fact that it’s universally considered a stinker might hurt your chances.

A good example would be using “The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time” and not just saying that you like the combat or story. Rather, talk about why it was so groundbreaking when it first released and how it has managed to age well.

In an industry where teamwork and communication is everything, being able to verbally talk about a game is just as important as whichever talent you’re trying to contribute.

You should avoid picking a widely-popular game that only recently came out as it will look like you’ve never thought about what the best game ever is. Similarly, it may be wise to avoid talking about a title the company made or else you’ll seem like a suck up, unless you actually really love the game to death.

Also be prepared to defend your decision in case the interviewer is familiar with the game and wants to see how you deal with opposing opinions and ideas.

Learn the skills you need before you get the interview. Check out the game design school at the New York Film Academy (campuses in New York and Los Angeles).

We conclude our series on game design interview questions in part three of the series. Check it out here.

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