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I've already looked at some examples from StackOverflow, but I'd like to know if any of you could show concrete examples of job interview questions... Are they different with a job related to game development?

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closed as too broad by Noctrine Dec 9 '13 at 22:48

There are either too many possible answers, or good answers would be too long for this format. Please add details to narrow the answer set or to isolate an issue that can be answered in a few paragraphs.If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

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By "game development" are you referring primarily to programming? –  Bill Jan 24 '11 at 23:12
    
Yes, forgot to mention sorry –  Jesse Emond Jan 24 '11 at 23:15
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Shouldn't this be a community wiki, since there's no single right answer but just a list of questions? –  Ian Schreiber Jan 28 '11 at 1:22
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... but if I told you, you'd have an unfair advantage if you interviewed with us. –  Tetrad Jan 28 '11 at 22:15
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7 Answers 7

up vote 5 down vote accepted

The context of the questions might change, but not really; if you are looking to program, you will still be asked questions that apply to Computer Science in general, including, but not limited to:

  • Mathematics
  • Programming Syntax
  • Programming Methodology
  • Debugging

At least, I was. My programming methodology question was phrased in terms of game related terms, such as ships and bullets, but it was really a design question and a math question.

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Am I a bad person because I think of these?

  • What do you do for fun? (Translation: Do you have a social life that will interfere with putting in 60 hour weeks normally, 100+ hour weeks in crunch?)
  • How do you balance your personal life with work? (Translation: Have you had experience with a normal job that you put in a day at and then go home from when you're done, or can we format your brain with the insane expectations that make us money?)
  • Where do you see yourself in five years? (Translation: Do we have a reasonable shot at keeping you in the same code monkey role for several product cycles?)

Disclaimer: Please note that this answer contains a high quotient of bitterness and cynicism, and that its contents reflect a worst-case scenario that the gaming industry is unfortunately notorious for. There are many ethical and benignly-motivated people performing hiring and management in the industry, and being asked any of these questions does not automatically mean that the "translations" apply.

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The last question is very dangerous in the game industry mind you.. Average time someone works in the games industry (especially programmers) is 5 years and that usually includes 2-3 job switches (Games industry is not known for internal promotion) –  James Jan 25 '11 at 17:07
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I think you're being a little too cynical. For example, when I ask those questions of people I am looking to make sure that they have and value a work/life balance because that's important to me and I want the people I work with to feel the same way. Similarly, I want to know if the candidate is somebody who wants to move to more senior roles or not, because that may or may not be what we're looking for at the time, et cetera. –  Josh Petrie Jan 25 '11 at 17:17
    
I applaud you. Do you believe that your motivations in this are typical of the industry, or are to some degree exceptional? –  chaos Jan 25 '11 at 17:19
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Is there any evidence that the games industry promotes less than others? Most things I've read say that job-hopping is more profitable everywhere, if you want to deal with the stress and risk. If anything, games is probably the only software industry where you can get a "senior" or "lead" title in five years. –  user744 Jan 25 '11 at 18:01
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You're a realistic person for thinking of these, but it would be good to at least add a disclaimer that this is a worst-case, not every-case scenario. –  Ian Schreiber Jan 28 '11 at 1:22
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Of course, there are the standard interview questions (programming, personal, etc.). But then there are also the games-related questions, for example:

  • What kinds of games do you like/play?
  • What is your favorite game?
  • Are you okay with working on genre X?

Furthermore, they might ask you about specific technologies/APIs/SDKs and what your specialization is (graphics? physics? audio?).

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And just a piece of advice - when someone asks what your favorite game is, don't just give the name. Talk about why you like it, what you don't, what you'd change in it. Otherwise, it tells the interviewer you really aren't thinking that much about games. –  user744 Jan 25 '11 at 0:12
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Around graduation time years ago, I knew a handful of people who interviewed at a local established game company after a job fair. All of them mentioned that the interviewer asked about their favorite game, and none of them had played any games except maybe Pac Man or Pong, and this was in the era of Quake 3 engine games. I have no evidence how this affected their interviews, but it couldn't have been positive. –  indiv Jan 25 '11 at 2:57
    
Well, if they could talk at length about why Pac-Man is a great game, I'd prefer that to the common response I got when interviewing, of "Yeah, I love $X" with no followup. (And 80% of the time, X was either WoW or the most recently released high-marketing-budget game.) –  user744 Jan 25 '11 at 18:05
    
Most common answer I get is "Need For Speed". When I ask which one, the answer is always "I don't remember." –  Vijay Varadan Nov 19 '12 at 18:14
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From my experience being interviewed:

  • Expect some technical questions relating to your specialty (i.e. if you're trying for a graphics programmer position, expect some questions about what graphics libraries you've worked with and some of the more prominent graphics algorithms)

  • Some companies give you programming tests, of the "write code to do X" variety. This might happen at your interview in real-time, or they might ask you to do this ahead of time and send it in with your application. Expect to struggle red-faced through the embarrassment of having to correctly identify the bugs in your own code.

  • You may have some questions about other fields, such as audio, visual art, production and game design, or questions about your ability to play nicely with people in those fields. You don't need to be expert in non-programming fields, but you do need to be able to communicate effectively with non-programmers. (My favorite question: "Describe [polymorphism / A* / quaternions / whatever] to me in terms my technophobic grandmother would understand.")

  • Since game dev is so team-oriented, expect lots of non-programming questions that are trying to find team fit: questions about how you handle stressful situations, disagreements with superiors, eleventh-hour requests from publishers, impossible-to-implement specs from designers, and just generally if you're the kind of person that other people would like to spend more time with than they spend with their families.

Every company's interview process is different, of course, but I think you'll find more similarities than differences between game industry programming, and greater software industry programming, in terms of what the interview is like. The biggest difference is that in the game industry, the person interviewing you probably won't be wearing a suit :)

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You didn't specify a discipline, but for programming almost every game company test I've seen has included:

  • A question about virtual destructors in C++. What they do, when are they needed, etc.
  • A question about dot products and cross products, what they do, how they're used, possibly how they're derived.
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For the question like this there is great website: glassdoor.com. It is specialized mostly on inteviews and also offesr some other things about companies. Membership is free (or was a half of year ago) if you after some time you spend there fill yours interview in your company. Propably you will find lots of people attending on similar position at similar company.

And for me as a computer graphics engineer

  • Describe graphic pipeline on gpu (not just programmable part, but how it really work)
  • How would you do ... something related to the game engines (mine was shadows for omni-directional light.)
  • shadow mapping, environment mapping, shading models, ambient occlusion ...
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There is no other answer that is also not a good answer.

Programming Tests: Generally want to see what you are capable with and what your turn around times are.. Just remember that a Wrong answer is never a good one so do not rush these in order to make it look like you can turn them around quick. Just do a google search for programming tests. Also, take a look at the Sucker Punch programming test.. that one is Infamous and has been around forever (hundreds of forum posts generated from trying to get a good solution to it).

Over the phone: These will generally be light tech questions and mostly personal questions. Why do you want to make video games, why do you want to make Their video games.. etc so on and so forth.

In Person: Usually the final stage.. Making video games is VERY stressful.. you need to show you can be accommodating, interact with the person you are interviewing with and I can almost guarantee you will be shown around to a few other key members of the team. Also, some hands on tech questions can be brought up here... I have however been very successful in avoiding receiving them... Might be something to do with telling Them what their code/script is doing with out them asking me to write something ;)

Please note though, as mentioned at the start.. No other answer here is a bad answer, the questions will be wide and many.. Mostly game or game object oriented, but programming is programming.. video games just have to do it 60 times a second :)

Good Luck!

EDIT: Cached link to an old Sucker Punch Job Listing w/ Programming Test referenced at the bottom.

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I can't find the sucker punch programming test via google...could you provide a link? –  Bill Jan 25 '11 at 2:55
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@Bill. Sorry it seems they have no open programming positions so the programming test is not on their site.. I did however find a Google Cache link to an old programming job and have put the link in the post. Enjoy! –  James Jan 25 '11 at 17:07
    
Guess it's expected, but the link is dead now, and I can't find a new one. –  leetNightshade Aug 18 '13 at 20:31
    
@leetNightshade I will see if I can dig a new one up but yeah, it kind of went away.. it was about building on on-stack queue system using as few bytes as possible. –  James Aug 20 '13 at 8:46
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