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  • Applying for Your First Game Industry Job

    [09.01.06]
    - Samuel Crowe

  • Feature!Interviews

    In most cases, you will be flown to the company for an interview, on the company’s bill. The interviewing process usually takes one day, maybe two depending on the size of the company. Usually, you will be meeting the HR staff (human resources) and then you’ll meet the Leads or Directors. I should note that each company has its own set of “rules” for interviewing. So don’t expect every interview to be the like this one. Instead, I will present you with two interviews that I have had, each total opposites.

    Good interview. This was during the winter and my first interview had to be canceled because of a freak snowstorm that closed down the airport. A week or two later, communication was resumed and I was flown out to meet the staff. My flight, hotel, and travel were all paid for. Upon arrival at the airport, I was taken to the office. Once there, I met each artist individually and had a chance to talk with them. My lunch was paid for and the entire art staff was there to meet and greet.

    After lunch, I returned to the office to talk some more with the Art Director. I felt very comfortable and relaxed and all of my questions where answered. I felt very at home there. I was then taken to the designers so I could see the game that was in development and ask some questions about that. I was then driven to my hotel.

    The next morning I was taken back to the office to talk with the “upper echelon”. We discussed pay, benefits, and so on, and then we went out for some drinks and talked about the game industry and non-game industry related topics. Very friendly and I didn’t feel like I was a nobody.

    I saw the work environment—everyone as working hard but enjoyed what they did. All the employees had a voice and they were not restrained. If they wanted to talk with me, they could and what they said was not monitored.

    Before I left, the entire art staff was gathered in a room and I was asked to “demo” my demo. My demo was website based and I brought it on a CD-ROM for backup. I demoed my work to them and answered their questions. I then moved around the office talking to various people. While I was doing this, the Art Director was getting information from each person on their first impressions on me. At the end of the day, I was driven to the airport and I flew home. The whole trip didn’t cost me a dime and I had a good time and was very impressed with the staff and the company.

    Bad interview. I was flown to the office and I basically had 5 hours to interview, then I had to fly back. Total of 4 flights in one day! My flights were paid for, but I had a delay and I didn’t catch my ride at the airport. I had to catch a taxi, which I paid for and it was around $50 for the trip. I was dropped off in the middle of town with no direction as to where the office was, so I had to ask some locals where “so and so” street was.

    Eventually I found it. Once I made it into the office, I was met by HR staff. I had a friend working at the company, so I spent some time hanging out with him until the owner was able to talk with me. I was never offered a chance to meet any of the staff. Instead, the owner, my friend, the producer, and the HR person took me to lunch.

    After lunch, we came back to the office. I was basically passed off to the producer who, as he rolled his eyes into the back of his head, reluctantly showed me the current title they were working on. One hour before my plane left the owner made time to talk with me.

    It was a dark office no sunlight at all. He sat directly across from me and I asked many questions. When it came time to discuss pay, there was no negotiation at all. I was told that an amount would be emailed to me once I returned home.

    The overall atmosphere was bleak and no one talked to me. I felt like I was some diseased corpse that had to be avoided at all costs.

    As you can see, these two experiences are vastly different. And just as you are making your first impression, so is the company you’re interviewing with. Keep that in mind!

    Interview the interviewer. First, be sure to bring pen and paper. It’s common and expected that you will be writing down the information that is said during the interview process. Always ask about the future of the company. Ask if the owners have plans to change with the industry and move into new fields of development in order to stay “afloat.”

    Additional important issues to check into during the interview process follow.

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