Game Career Guide is part of the Informa Tech Division of Informa PLC

This site is operated by a business or businesses owned by Informa PLC and all copyright resides with them. Informa PLC's registered office is 5 Howick Place, London SW1P 1WG. Registered in England and Wales. Number 8860726.

Get the latest Education e-news
  • Game Dev Career Night: Level Up Your Job Hunting Skills

    - Anthony Ritchey

    Questions from the audience:

    How do I handle communicating with recruiters?

    • Recruiters want to get you in the door. Recruiters are working with you, not against you.
    • "It might not seem like it, but some recruiters have technical skill and know exactly what skills are needed for the job, and should know about the general requirements of the job."

    How should I handle take-home projects? Should I show off my skills by making the project fancy?

    • Take-home projects are problems given in advance of the interview and can act as companion pieces to whiteboard questions.
    • Focus on making the project solid first, and not fancy.
    • Bring up during the interview certain ways that you would improve on the take-home question.

    What's the value of contracting?

    • Contracting is a great way to get your foot in the door.
    • Contracts are legally-binding documents. Everything in writing must happen. Everything stated verbally or implied throughout the direction of the contract is just a bonus. If there is no statement about "contract to hire," don't assume it will happen.
    • During a contract, prove to your team and manager that you are a valuable resource. This can help you become a permanent member of the team.

    The lecture split off from here into two parts.

    IGDA moderator, Bilgem, and one of the panelists met with audience members interested in learning specific whiteboard exercises. Participants could see how interviewers structure whiteboard questions and collaboratively solve these exercises.

    IGDA member Bilgem providing career advice. Photo by Tim.

    The remaining panel members met with a smaller cluster of audience members to discuss behavioral interviews and practice interviewing techniques.

    Behavioral interviewing

    What are behavioral interviews?

    • Behavioral interviews will ask more specific questions to prove what you've done in specific problem-solving situations.
    • Questions in behavioral interviews will not be yes or not. Instead, the questions are more statements about yourself: "Tell me about [a certain] situation?" "Can you provide an example of a time where you changed [a major component or operation within your work]?" "Tell me about a time that someone changed your opinion."
    • You may also get questions such as: "Estimate your timeline for [any given situation]." When you provide an estimate for a large amount of work to do, feel free to ask for clarification.
    • Expect questions about teamwork, disagreements, and frustrations. Have good stories in mind related to these that present you in a positive light, and the lessons you've learned.
    • Be open to having a conversation with any of the answers you give.

    Doing well in behavioral interviews

    • You will want to talk about actual lessons learned, not just minor things, to show that you can be a good team player, and you've learned from past mistakes.
    • Non-industry answers to behavioral interview questions are expected. Especially if you have just graduated or are still in school, they don't have the same expectations that you have a lot of experience in the field as they would if you had a good amount of job experience under your belt.
    • "A really positive win is if you can show an example of how you've changed your mind in a particular situation. That shows you're flexible and willing to work with others."

    Use the S.T.A.R. format when answering questions in interviews

    • Situation - This was the situation.
    • Task - This is what needed to happen.
    • Action - This is what I did.
    • Result - This was the result of this action.
    • Framing answers in the S.T.A.R. format will give the interviewers a clear understanding of what makes you stand out.

    Asking an audience member a behavioral interview question and providing the audience with live feedback

    • "What is an example of a situation where you took a big risk and it failed?"
    • If you don't have a good answer lined up, avoid silence, saying "umm..." or using other linguistic filler words or sounds.
    • Ask broad questions to get to a more specific question, for example: "What kind of risks are you asking about in particular?"
    • Ask if you can return to the question later on in the interview.
    • If you ask questions like these, you can avoid the silence you might get while thinking, which will help you regroup so you can answer the question better.
    • "You sometimes have to normalize the power dynamics by educating the interviewer as you tell the story."
    • "Try to describe your story like Stack Overflow, where you have to state how you have a valid problem and describe your situation clearly."

    Summary of behavioral interviews, and interviews, in general:

    • Job interviews feel like a test. They are an evaluation of fit.
    • Interviewing is a two-way street. You're figuring out if you like them and they're figuring out if they like you.
    • Don't let the interviewing process bring you down.
    • Interviewing is tough for everyone involved.
    • Make sure to speak to your strengths and avoid dwelling on the negatives of your past mistakes.

    IGDA Seattle is the Seattle chapter of the International Game Developers Association, the largest non-profit membership organization in the world serving all individuals who create games. IGDA is designed to improve the lives of its members by enabling networking opportunities and developing growth opportunities. Our events are open to members and non-members alike. Job seekers in the games industry should post their resume on so prospective employers can easily find you and reach out, it is free to anyone to post.

    IGDA member Terence Tolman providing career advice. Photo by Tim.


comments powered by Disqus