Practical Tips on How to Prepare for an Interview in the Game Industry

The interview process in any industry is pretty stressful, and throughout my career as an Environment Artist I've went through quite a few, some I've nailed and some I've failed. 

Before we jump in, a major point that you should consider right off the bat before the interview is, research the company/studio, familiarize yourself with their games and  culture, and find out what they're working on. I recommend doing this even before applying, so you know what you are getting into.

This post will cover two parts, the phone interview and the face to face interview. Here are some tips that I learned and that personally helped me succeed:

Phone Interview (45min to 1 hour):

  • If you are using your cell phone, make sure it's charged and that you get a good signal where you are going to be.
  • Pick a place from where you are taking the call that is quiet.
  • Have your computer on and your portfolio up (turn off your IMs, mute your speakers and shut all other tabs).
  • Walk around while you talk. Movement helps your words flow. Use a handsfree set if you can. 
  • Have a pen and pad ready.
  • Take a deep breath when the phone rings, smile then pick up.
  • Speak clearly, and don't be afraid to ask the person interviewing you to either repeat a question or that you can't hear him/her well.

Face to Face Interview (5 to 7 hours):

  • The day before the interview prepare your clothes and go to bed early.
  • Wake up nice and early, and go for a run. That's what I do, any type of physical activity would work, don't over do it though. The purpose of this is to jumpstart your brain and to remove stress. (Bonus: Meditate for few minutes)
  • The industry is VERY casual, so dress appropriately and look your best.  Shorts and flip flops are not a good idea and in a suit you'll just look out of place. I usually wear jeans, a button down shirt, (sometimes a blazer) and sneakers.
  • Have a healthy, light breakfast.
  • Before you head to the studio, brush your teeth and take some mints with you.
  • If you are taking your tablet or computer to show some of your work on it, make sure it's charged and that all other programs are closed. You don't want random stuff to pop while you are showing your portfolio.
  • Personal Beef: Don't show your work from your personal Facebook. It's not professional at all.
  • Have questions ready to ask, even if they've already answered them during the conversation. You can say "Can you tell me more about..."
  • Take notes if you want to revisit something they've talked about.
  • Don't bring up salary, you don't have the job yet. Wait until you get an offer.
  • Walk around the room when waiting for the next person to interview you.
  • Have a bottle or cup of water handy. You'll need it. There will be lots of talking.
  • Don't bring up your personal life.
  • Don't bash other places where you've worked (it's a small industry...).
  • It's ok to be a little nervous, relax and enjoy the conversation.
  • Bonus Tip: When you get an offer, I recommend you negotiate your salary with the company and not take the first offer you are given.

The face to face interview takes a whole day and can be tiring, and during this process the studio is trying to figure out if you match their culture. Keep in mind you will get a LOT of questions about your career path and your portfolio, so be prepared to talk A LOT and to repeat a lot of what you have said to the many people that interview you. Make sure your enthusiasm and excitement doesn't get low towards the end by keeping the bigger picture in mind. (which is getting to work doing something you love)

For a general overview of the Hiring Process in the video game industry, I recommend reading this post.

These are tips that worked for me. How do you prepare for interviews?

Wishing you the best in your career.

Mouhsine Adnani

Hiring Process in the Game Industry

Through my career as an Environment Artist. I went through lots of interviews. I succeeded at some and failed at some. This is what I learned.

In most game studios, there are 4 main steps that roughly all candidates go through.

Step 1- After applying you get a response within 2 weeks give or take that company X wants to talk to you.  At this point you'll be communicating with HR to set up the next step.

Step 2- Depending on your portfolio and experience there are 2 options here: 

  • a- Phone interview with Art Lead/Art Director OR
  • b- Art test, then if you pass it, Phone Interview with Art Lead/Art Director

The Phone Interview is the first important step in the interview process. The interviewer is pretty much going to ask you about your experience and portfolio pieces while making sure you can talk comfortably about your work and workflow (and if you did a test, be ready to talk about it). It's ok to be a bit nervous on the phone, everyone is. These conversations last about 30min.

Step 3- If they like how you sound on the phone, the last crucial step is to bring you over for an onsite interview with the team. This depends on where you are, overseas studios and smaller companies are now doing it via Skype to not have to deal with VISAs and/or to save on the cost of flying you over. An onsite interview goes approximately from 10am to 4pm, usually includes a one hour lunch with some of the team members. 

Step 4- And depending on how you do in the interview, you'd either get an offer or rejection email from HR welcoming you to the studio or telling that you don't match the criteria they are looking for. 

This is my personal experience with this process, yours will probably be slightly different.

In my upcoming posts, I will write in more details on how to prepare for all these steps, so stay tuned for more.

Let me know how your interview process was in the comments below and if you have any questions about this subject, shoot me an email!

Wishing you the best success in your career.

Mouhsine Adnani