Common Interview Questions
Typically, studio’s application processes involve an initial phone interview as well as an on-site interview. Phone interviews tend to go one of two ways – either a brief check to make sure you’re not totally crazy or else the bulk of a ‘standard’ interview (occasionally they are even shorter, basically just making sure that you can legally work for them). Because of this, phone interviews can go anywhere from 10 minutes to over an hour.
In-person interviews are typically mainly a culture check, seeing how you are in person, how you interact with the team you’ll be working with, etc.
Although when and if they will be asked varies, these are some of the most common interview questions you’ll encounter when interviewing with a game studio.
- Practice beforehand. It’s amazing what going through these questions even once or twice with someone (in person or over the phone, or both) will do for your delivery and confidence. No one is is their best at something the first time around.
- Smile a lot. Smile until your face is ready to fall off. It not only makes you seem more friendly, it tricks you into being more enthusiastic.
- Research the company, culture, pipeline, games, and interviewers beforehand. Practice the tools if possible. Play their latest game, or the game you’re applying to work on if possible, and others if you have the time. Be ready to talk about them. Find some mutual interests with the interviewers to chat about if the conversation lags.
- Bring your portfolio on a laptop or tablet, especially if you have games, levels, or other interactive demos they can play with.
- Don’t trash talk anything – even if you rarely do it intentionally, some questions are designed to let you hang yourself. Don’t dodge the questions outright, just stay positive and focus your answers on improvements, things you learned, etc.
- Always be playing a game and ready to talk about both its strong and weak points, especially in the area you’re applying for (art, design, etc.)
- Be the nicest dressed, but not by much. Nice shoes, dark jeans or slacks, and a blouse or collared shirt is almost always a safe bet. Overdressing can be distracting, especially in an industry as casual as game dev.
Questions about you
- You will always be asked to tell them about yourself and what you do. Have keypoints, keep it brief, and love what you do.
- Why did you decide to get into games?
- What are your favorite games?
- Why? What are your favorite things about it?
- What do you think they could have done better?
- Who are your favorite artists / biggest influences?
- What are you playing right now? (ALWAYS be playing something and ready to talk about it.)
- What’s your favorite thing about it?
- What do you think they could improve?
- Why do you what to work for us? / What do you know about our games/studio?
- What do you hope to gain out of working here?
- Have you played any of our games? (YES. Always yes.)
- What’s your favorite thing about them?
- What’s something (typically this will be tailored to your career type – gameplay, art, etc.) you think could be improved? How?
- Why are you looking to leave your current company? (If currently at a studio. Remember to be positive – instead of focusing on what sucks about your current job, focus on things you hope to gain from this new studio, such as the chance to work on a game you love, learn from people you admire, better culture fits, etc.)
- Tell us about your prior project(s). (Games or game jams, personal projects, etc. Like telling them about yourself, keep it brief and positive. Detail the things you accomplished and learned during the project, challenges you overcame, etc.)
- They may also ask you to talk them through a few portfolio pieces they find particularly interesting or perplexing.
- What’s your favorite thing you’ve gotten to do?
- What’s the hardest/most challenging thing you’ve had to do? (Be positive – was it a learning experience? What good came out of it?)
- What kind of studio environment do you like working in? (If, possible, research the company beforehand and tailor your answer a little to their studio environment. Otherwise, it’s best to focus on general traits you enjoy in a studio, such as collaboration and passionate coworkers.)
- What do you look for / think makes for a good lead?
- Are there types of people you don’t like working with? (This is a tricky one – you can easily hang yourself with your answer. It’s often best to either say no, not really and instead focus on traits of people you know you really love working with. If you know the company well, you may be able to get away with something like “I don’t like working with people who are just there for the paycheck / not invested in the project / etc.” but it’s much safer to just say that you like working with people who are passionate about the project in a case like that.)
- Have you ever had a problem with a coworker? What did you do? (Again, tricky. No one’s ever not had a problem at *some* point, but it’s incredibly easy for this to accidentally turn into trash-talking and that is ALWAYS bad. The best way to handle this is to describe the problem without blaming any particular party, and move as quickly as possible to how you helped fix it, the short- and long-term positive outcomes, and anything you learned from the experience.)
- What are your career goals? (May be general, may be five- or ten-year but that’s unusual for an entry interview.)
- What is your ideal day/week at work?
Workflow / Process
- Can you describe your typical process?
- Do you have any favorite tools / programs?
- Do you know (tool x)? (If they have publicly-available proprietary tools, they will likely ask about these and you should absolutley tinker with them a little before your interview. If they don’t, they will probably simply ask about tools that they don’t see listed in your resume or much proof of in your portfolio but are part of their pipeline.)
- How do you handle a task when you don’t know how to do it? How do you plan for a task whose length you can’t approximate?
- Can you describe your (art/design/etc.) test and process for us?
- Is there anything you wish you could fix about your test?
- How long did you wind up spending on your test? If you were going to recreate it, how long do you think it would take you?
Questions for them (Always have questions, it makes you seem interested and invested in the company.)
- What are your favorite parts of working for this company?
- What is a typical day/week like?
- How much feedback do you typically have over the course of an asset?
- What are your favorite games/artists/major influence?
- What do you wish you’d known when you started here?
- When should I expect an update?
- What skills should would you like to see me work on while I’m waiting for an update?