Rob Farthing, University of Portsmouth, BSc Computer Games Technology

Preparing for your interview

You’ve done a lot of the hard work getting yourself in front of a potential employer. The interview is where you get the chance to really shine, to show your experience and expertise and how you’re the best person for the job.

Although each interview is unique and structured based on the type of role recruited for, the level of the hire and the organisation recruiting, one thing is consistent across all interviews: the interview is a two-way process. As well as the company deciding if you are the right person for the job, you are deciding whether the company and the job is right for you.

This advice is presuming you’re applying for a job through Grads In Games and that you’ll be working with our consultants throughout the process.

What to prepare

Firstly, research as much as you can about the company that you’ll be seeing. We’ll provide web addresses and additional info but spend some time doing your own research too. Renting a copy of their latest release is often a good idea if you haven’t already played some of their titles. Aim to know at least some information about their development history and current announced projects.

Prepare some questions in advance, such as what the future plans of the company are, planned projects, milestones, how many applicants for this role etc. Your consultant will help you with research and planning, so feel free to ask us for help!

If you’re taking examples of work with you it is always best to take them on a laptop to ensure they are easy to demo. Alternatively try to test them on different spec PCs. If it takes half an hour of configuring to get the demo to run on their systems, the impression you make will not be as impressive!!!

Plan your route and allow for unexpected delays. It’s on old cliché but a first impression is a lasting one; try to be five minutes early rather than rushing through the door with seconds to spare. If you arrive in plenty of time, you will feel relaxed and composed and will give a far better impression of yourself.

What to wear

In general our advice here is casual but smart – it’s better to be slightly over-dressed than under-dressed for an interview. We wouldn’t recommend a suit in most instances, especially for development roles. A shirt and a smart pair of trousers are normally best. This dress code will also help you feel more at ease and relaxed at the interview itself.

Questions to ask

The final questions that you should ask are “Do you have any reservations about my application?” – Ask this because as soon as you leave there is no second chance to overcome any objections. “Where do we go from here?” – should be your last question. It’s not an aggressive close, but a decisive one that warrants a reply. This should provide an indication of how well the interview has gone. It could be that you are offered a second interview there and then or that you won’t have an answer for two weeks, but at least you will have a good indication of how things stand and time scales.

After the interview

As soon as possible after the interview contact your consultant to get feedback on how it went. This is essential if we are to get feedback for you. If you cannot call, then send an e-mail, but we can’t contact the client until we have heard from you.

Unless otherwise agreed, don’t be tempted to contact the company directly. Many companies use agencies because they don’t have the time to deal with lots of individual enquiries. If you have specific feedback that you would like to pass on, then send it to your consultant and they will be more than happy to forward it on for you.

Top tips for your interview

The most important thing is to be friendly and enthusiastic. Even if the company is not what you expected, use the opportunity to develop your interview technique. Every interview is worth giving 100% effort to – this is a very small industry and creating a good impression and showing buckets of enthusiasm can have far reaching benefits.

There’s a wealth of information available online to help with interview technique, but a few of our tips are:

  • Body language is very important and can be your best friend or your worst enemy depending upon if you use it to your advantage. Your hand and arm movements shouldn’t be too large, try not to fiddle or wring your hands. Upturned palms are a sign of honesty and openness. Make sure that your posture is alert and relaxed, don’t slouch – lean forward and show interest in what your interviewer is saying.
  • Eye contact is vital and there’s a fine line between maintaining eye contact and staring – this might be one to practice before you attend! But seriously, look ahead not at the floor, keep eye contact with the person addressing you and don’t forget to smile. Be relaxed; don’t forget that it is just as important that you like them as it is that they like you.
  • When answering questions, try not to ramble. A short but precise answer is far better than 5 minutes of irrelevant rambling!
  • If the question is complicated then take time to gather your thoughts. You can even say “I need to think about that for a moment…” – the interviewer will respect your honesty and you will probably give a more detailed, relevant and impressive answer.

Interview length

This varies from company to company and your consultant will try to give you an idea beforehand based on past experience. Most interviews last about 45 minutes to an hour. If the interview has a technical component or an exercise this will normally take 1 – 2 hours in total. We’ll advise you on the content of your interview prior to sending you a written confirmation. We will also include a map and information on the company conducting the interview and refer you to their website for additional background information.

Salary questions

Generally you won’t discuss salary unless it’s specifically brought into the conversation by the interviewer(s), and even then it is best to refer that question to your recruitment consultant. Salary discussions often place a candidate in defensive mode trying to justify figures. As a third party we can negotiate on your behalf. If you do raise the issue of remuneration yourself, it will inevitably appear that it is one of your prime motivating factors even if this is not the image you wish to portray to a potential employer. Other topics to avoid at first interview are sick pay and holidays – this suggests that these are your primary motivators. Conversely, asking about pension plans suggests to the employer that you intend to stick with them. Detailed discussion on these topics will usually be covered in an offer letter or at a second interview.

Travel expenses

This varies from company to company, although we can advise on an individual company’s policy when we arrange the interview. Generally, few pay travelling expenses for a 1st interview. It’s more likely for a company to reimburse 2nd interview expenses, so retain all of your receipts. If you’ve been unemployed and claiming benefit or a training allowance for a period of 13 weeks or more, your local employment centre will often cover the cost. If the expense of attending an interview is an issue for you, speak to your consultant and we’ll make enquiries with our client for you.

If you can’t attend or are going to be late

Call your consultant the minute that you find out that you can’t attend. We won’t have a problem with this and will be much happier to rearrange an interview (even at short notice) than to receive a call from an irate client when you don’t turn up.

If you are running late call us and advise of the delay – we will call ahead and explain this to the company.

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