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  • Game Job Interview Questions And How to Answer Them

    [05.12.09]
    - Jake Simpson

  •  8. Okay, we're going to work through a problem here...

    Often in game job interviews, you will be presented with a problem to solve, or even a full-blown test, depending on the position. It might be grease board work, it might be a conversation, it might be a level design test, it might even be a code test at a PC.

    The premise is that the interviewer wants to see how you work. Often, once you've answered the question, the interviewer will change the parameters to see what you'll do.

    But what do you do if you have no clue what's being asked, or if it's outside your area of expertise? That's a panic moment if there ever was one. Take a deep breath and realize that this is a moment where you need to say, "I'm not sure I understand the question," or "That's not something I've done before." But immediately after that, start asking questions about the problem and take a stab at solving it.

    That's one of the biggest things you can do at this point -- admit ignorance then have a go anyway. Showing a willingness to try something outside your field of knowledge is huge to interviewers. It shows you want to learn and be more than what you are now. Sometimes, the fact that you tried is more important than the actual result, and sometimes, you'll have an interviewer who will give you hints toward a solution just because you showed that willingness to try. The more junior you are the more likely this is to happen.

    Occasionally, interviewers will deliberately put you out of your comfort zone just to see how you'll react, so be aware!

    9. Where do you want to be in five years?

    Personally, I love this question because it reveals if a prospective candidate has a plan at all or is just drifting from job to job as so many are wont to do. There's nothing wrong per se with people who drift along the currents, it's just that those with a plan (or at least a desire to move in a particular direction) are generally much more interesting people. Plus, they are almost always inherently more predictable, which is always a benefit for employers.

    Having a desire to move forward helps everyone. It helps you measure your progress, and it gives the company a plan to help you get there.

    Of course, it does depend on you knowing what you want. Most people tend to know what they don't want, but not necessarily what they do want, which is a problem -- particularly if you express that in an interview. Interviewers would rather have a list of things you want to attain rather than things you don't.

    One optimal answer is, "Still working for you making games," but it smacks of sucking up, so I'd recommend saying something a little more generic: "Still looking for a challenge and putting in that extra effort to make great games."

    The best response I've ever heard to that question was, "I want your job!" and the individual who said it to me indeed has my old job! But be wary of sounding confrontational.

    10. What game would you make if money were no object?

    Everyone has a pet project they would want to make if they had the chance -- it's just inherent in the game developer psyche. This is your chance to expound on it, and the more realized your idea is, the more it will be seen as proof that you know what you're doing.

    Taking an existing idea and adding, "but I'd make it cooler!" isn't the answer (the number of times I've heard Q/A staff wanting to become developers tell me they want to remake Counter Strike "but better" is staggering); it just shows you have enthusiasm, but no original ideas.

    Bonus points if you can take an existing IP license and make a compelling argument for a game out of it. People who can actually do that are at a premium in our industry since most tie-ins, well, suck.

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