Nailing Your Game Design Interview Questions (Part 3)

This is the third part of our series covering common interview questions that you might encounter during an interview for a game design job. If you haven’t already, check out part 1 and part 2 of the series. We finish the series with four more commonly asked questions…

What hobbies or non-work activities do you do to improve your skills?

If there’s one question that doesn’t seem as important as the rest, but could very well make or break your chances of getting hired, it’s this one. Why would a game company care about what you do during your spare time, you might ask. Simply put, they want to hire sharp individuals who also genuinely enjoy what they do for a living.

Someone who performs discipline-related projects during his or her free time is usually likelier to more easily come up with unique ideas and pick up new skills. While others may completely forget about work, these individuals are still pondering the solution to a problem or figuring out a way to get better at something.

So to answer this question, figure out what you do during your time off that makes you better. To give you a good idea, here are a few excellent responses that correspond to different positions and talents. Of course, we advise you avoid saying you do anything that isn’t true:

  • Artist – Learning new things on photo editing software, drawing, painting, photography.
  • Programmer – Learning new scripting languages, working on personal game projects or anything requiring programming.
  • Designer – Making puzzles, jotting down ideas for a game you’d like to make, actively discussing games on a design level with others, playing games where world building plays a big part.
  • Writer – Reading, working on own creative writing works, writing game-related articles, having a blog, discussing game narratives with others.

Answering “I play a lot of games” just doesn’t cut it anymore, especially in this day and age where game development jobs are highly sought. A studio is much more likely to hire someone who not only puts in more work to stay ahead of the curve but enjoys doing it as well.

Where do you see yourself in X years?

Interviewers love this question because it’s an easy way for them to assess how interested you really are in the company and not just desperate for any job you can take. Basically your answer will show if you’re the kind of employee that will stick around for a while and not drift to another job in a year or two.

However, this is one of those questions where HOW you answer is slightly more important than what you answer. After all, who isn’t going to suck up and answer with “Hopefully working here”? We actually recommend something vague like “still making great games, no matter where it may be” since, again, it’s the delivery that counts.

Answering this confidently reveals that you actually have a plan for your career and hold a strong desire to continue improving. Every developer wants to hire someone who, even if they end up leaving in 5 to 10 years, helped make amazing games because they kept getting better at what they do. Interviewers want to predict if you’re going to be a par employee who never strives for more and will quickly be replaced by someone more ambitious.

The dreaded problem or test!

Being presented with a problem to solve has become so commonplace during game job interviews that you should assume it’s going to happen. While you’re not alone if the thought of being put on the spot makes you nervous, you’re still more than capable of impressing the interviewer, even if you don’t ace the test, because they’re doing more than assessing your skills. They want to see how you work, especially under pressure.

This, of course, varies depending on the position you’re looking to fill, such as in a programming or software test in which they actually do want to see how good you are at what you say you do.

When it comes to a verbal question or problem to solve, however, do your best to avoid panicking and even admit if you don’t entirely understand the question at first. Ask questions if you need to and then do what you can to figure out the problem. A game studio would rather hire someone that is willing to ask for help when necessary, before giving it their best shot, than an arrogant employee who thinks he or she can do it all without assistance.

And don’t freak out when an interviewers suddenly changes something about the problem mid-way through. As we mentioned before, they’re purposely trying to take you out of your comfort zone to see how you react as well as how willing you are to try despite being in unfamiliar territory.

Do you have any questions?

This question almost always comes at the end of the interview and is your chance to not only get some good info but demonstrate an interest in the company. Do your best to ask questions related to your position and show your long-term desires of working at the place where you are interviewing.

What better way to help you with this question than to list some great questions you can ask yourself. You’ll note that “So, do I have the job?” isn’t on this list as it’s probably the worst thing you could ask! You also aren’t expected to ask a dozen questions; one or two, maybe three is fine.

  • If I’m hired, what will be my first task, project, etc?
  • What new skills might I learn while working here?
  • Are there opportunities for progress and promotions here?
  • What do average week hours look like? Is there a lot of crunching?
  • What’s it like working here?

Conclusion

The best thing you can do is remember that an interview is simply a conversation during which the company wants to learn about you what they can’t discover from a resume. The reason there aren’t very many knowledge-based questions is because an interview is a way for them to catch a glimpse of your personality, not test how much you know.

Get the knowledge you need to succeed in the video game design industry. Learn more about the game design school at the New York Film Academy (campuses in New York and Los Angeles).

Being honest is absolutely vital. Most recruiters have sat through enough interviews to know when people are trying their best to show a version of themselves they think the recruiter wants to see. Instead, being genuine, engaging, and expressing interest in what is being discussed will go a long way toward earning you your dream game development job. Good luck!

 

Nailing Your Game Design Interview Questions (Part 3) by