Game Dev Career Night: Level Up Your Job Hunting Skills

By Anthony Ritchey [04.09.19]

With additional contributions and editing provided by Tim CullingsBilgem Cakir, and Josh Curry.

The Academy of Interactive Entertainment (AIE) and the Seattle Chapter of the International Game Developers Association (IGDA) recently hosted an evening career workshop at AIE's Seattle, Washington campus called: Game Development Career Night: Level Up Your Job Hunting Skills.

Mentors providing portfolio advice. Photo by Tim.

The event was split up into four areas, with plenty of room for fellow game developers and creative professionals of all experience levels to network and gain insight:

Portfolio Reviews

Senior artists from local game studios, including Oculus, Sucker Punch Productions, Against Gravity, and 343 Studios, provided portfolio reviews for digital artists.

Resume Reviews

Recruiters from local game studios, including Catapult, Ranstadt, Keywords Studios and WB, reviewed resumes to take them from the discard pile to the call-back pile!

Mock Interviews

Technical interviewers from current and former hiring managers, including Amazon and others, conducted one-on-one interviews and provided professional feedback to prepare professionals for their dream jobs!

Panel Discussion

This 4-person panel brought honest and hard-hitting questions to recruiters and hiring managers to give listeners the advantage in getting their dream jobs.

IGDA board member Tim Cullings included his summary of the event, which is quoted below:

The evening was full of positive energy with prospective candidates looking for advice on their resumes, portfolios and interview techniques from the 25+ industry veterans and recruiters who showed up to help aspiring game devs and fellow devs looking for a career change on their path to glory. In the art room there was top talent from Against Gravity, Big Fish and Hairbrained Schemes offering advice and critiques on the portfolios of animators, environment, character and concept artists to bring their skills to the next level and land their dream jobs. More than one solid mentor relationship was formed during these sessions and has continued on past the event.
Recruiters from WB Monolith, Ranstadt and Keywords Studios gave feedback on resumes and offered advice for people looking to pursue careers in the industry, making sure that their resumes would not just end up instantly passed over or in the trash and they would get that callback for an interview.
A team of senior studio heads from Harebrained Schemes set up shop in a couple of the classrooms to give mock interviews to attendees looking for assistance on honing their abilities to make it past the final obstacle in their quest to land the jobs they desire. All of the participants came away feeling energized with actionable feedback to practice and improve on.
In between sessions attendees relaxed and chatted over fresh baked cupcakes, provided by Board Member Erica, comparing notes on their experiences throughout the night and sharing stories about what brought them to the event. One team of independent developers made the 3hr trek up from Portland to make new connections in the industry and get some advice on the new indie adventure they were embarking on. They came away with new friends, feeling like the trip was well worth their time and effort and hoping to join us for future events.

Panel of professionals discussing career advice. Photo by Tim.

Here were the highlights of the panel discussion:

What should a good resume contain?

What are resume yellow/red flags?

Why are there so many "weird programming questions" in interviews?

"The Interviewing process tries hard to avoid false positives, at the cost of resulting in many unintentional false negatives."

There are three specific qualities of any good interview question:

An audience member later practicing answering a whiteboard question. Photo by Tim.

Why do we still use "whiteboard questions" as part of interviews?

What are whiteboard questions?

Why use the whiteboard questions?

What are some good attitudes to have toward interviewing?

How can we deal with the anxiety of interviewing?

What is anxiety and how can we recognize it?

General tips for tackling anxiety during interviews

Overcoming anxiety related to difficult questions

Speak the question out loud, in your own words, if you're not sure

General tips for tackling anxiety after interviews

Prepare for high false negatives.
Interviewing well and yet not getting the job happens to good, qualified people.
Don't let a rejection letter make you feel bad.

Audience listening in to the panel of professionals give career advice. Photo by Tim.

Addressing conflicts and touchy subjects within interviews:

Keep a good attitude

"Save your hot takes!"

Don't argue or fight any interviewer(s)

Don't take up too much time

Answering bad questions

"Why did you leave [your last/this] job?"

How do you prepare for "the day before" the interview?

Do your research on the company

Focus on your positives to sell your resume

General tips

Additional reading

How do you prepare for "the day of" the interview?

General Tips

Review your relevant projects

Arrive early

Questions from the audience:

How do I handle communicating with recruiters?

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

What's the value of contracting?

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?

Doing well in behavioral interviews

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

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

Summary of behavioral interviews, and interviews, in general:

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.

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