Interviews and applications

Applications can be a tricky process to navigate regardless of experience. That’s why we’ve written the following guides to steer you through the world of interviews with some of our handy advice tucked in for good measure.

  • Asking questions is just as important as answering them in an interview. Asking questions shows the interviewer how enthusiastic you are about a role, and demonstrates that you're not afraid to ask questions in a job.

    It also gives you the chance to find out more about the company and see if the job opportunity it right for you.

    So what sort of questions should you ask?

    About you and the role

    Hopefully the interviewer will have gone through the role and answered most of your questions. However if there's anything else you're wondering about the role and your future career prospects, now is the best time to ask. Some examples of questions you could ask include:

    1. Do you offer a relocation package?

    2. What are the working hours?

    3. Who would I report to day-to-day?

    4. Is this a new position?

    5. What training do you offer?

    6. Are there any specific development processes used here?

    7. What software/programs do you use?

    8. If I'm hired, what is the next game or project I might work on?

    9. How much input will I get on the project?

    10. How do you assign or schedule tasks?

    11. Who will I be working with?

    12. What opportunities do you have for career progression?

    13. What is the process for promotion?

    14. How do I get to progress?

    15. Do you have a bonus structure in place?

    16. What projects could I be working on in the future?

    About the company / interviewer

    While it's good to know more about the position and how it benefits you, it's also nice to find out more about the company and the interviewer. If you're really passionate about the company you're being interviewed for, then this is your time to shine, and show them how much you love the company. Questions may include:

    1. What has been your favourite game/project to work on?

    2. How long have you worked here?

    3. What has been the most challenging game/project to work on?

    4. How would you describe the company culture and management style?

    5. What are the company's plans for the future?

    6. How many people are there in the team?

    These are just some examples of questions you can ask (providing they haven't already been answered by the interviewer). Of course, you should ask questions as and when they arise in the interview. A good interview will be more like a conversation, with questions from both the interviewer and interviewee and some discussion.

  • So you’ve gotten over the first hurdle and you’ve managed to get yourself an interview. The hard part is over – well – almost! You still need to impress the interviewer and show them why you’re the person for the job.

    Of course, interviews will differ slightly depending on what role and type of company you’re going for. Some will just be a standard question and answer setup whilst others may require you to sit a test as part of the interview process.

    Prepare to succeed

    Regardless of the role, company or industry that you’re going for, everyone needs to prepare for an interview. You may be in a senior position now, or you may have even conducted hundreds of interviews yourself, but you’ll still need to research the new company you’re interviewing for.

    This doesn’t just mean reading the ‘About’ section of the company website, but instead finding out about their development history, current announced projects and anything else they’ve got coming up. If you’ve played any of their games or used their products – great! If you haven’t, buy or borrow a number and get fimilure with them.

    While it’s easy to get caught up over what they might ask you, it’s just as important, if not more important, that you ask the interview questions too. Prepare some questions in advance, such as what are the company’s plans for the future, what projects have they got planned and how many applicants applied for the role. Showing interest in the company will always place you in good stead.

    If you’re taking examples of work with you, make sure that they’re easy to demo! It may be best to bring your own laptop or tablet, or give them a link to an online portfolio so that you don’t have to worry about not being able to access your work.

    Finally, make sure that you plan your route well and allow time for unexpected delays. First impressions really do count, so make sure that you make a good one. Arriving on time, looking presentable and professional will put the odds in your favour.

    Dress to impress

    It’s always better to be slightly over-dressed than under-dressed for an interview. For certain roles, such as development roles, you should just wear a shirt and a smart pair of trousers rather than a suit. If you’re unsure what dress code will be best, feel free to ask your consultant who will be able to advise.

    Ace the interview

    Following on from good first impressions, it’s important to maintain a good impression throughout the interview by being friendly and enthusiastic. Body language is also important – you should avoid fiddling or wringing your hands as it’s a sign of nervousness. Instead you should make sure your posture is alert and relaxed and that your hand and arm movements aren’t too large. You want to appear confident, yet relaxed.

    Eye contact is another technique you need to perfect, ensuring that you’re not giving too much or too little.

    When asking and answering questions, don’t rush or ramble. If you’re listing off one question after another, or your answers sound rehearsed, then it’s obvious to the interviewer that you’re just trying to check everything off your list. An interview should be more like a conversation, where both your answers lead to a discussion rather than a continuous question followed by answer scenario.

    If you need a moment to think about the question be honest! The interviewer will respect your honest and will probably appreciate a well-thought out and impressive answer.

    The length of an interview can vary from company to company, but usually interviews last between 45 minutes to an hour. If there’s a technical component or exercise, this can make the interview last 1-2 hours.

  • No matter your age or experience, interviews can make the best of us feel nervous. It’s a potentially stressful time of your life and no amount of preparation can make you feel completely confident for such an event. You can, however, take solace in the fact that no matter how bad you think an interview may go, it likely won’t be as bad as it did for these unlucky souls.

    Joking around

    Reddit user Vmaster learnt pretty early on that there’s a line between what’s funny and what’s not and, for some, that line is far thinner. During an meeting in the nineties, an interviewer asked the taboo question of whether or not she had any children. In an attempt to make light of the situation, Vmaster replied with “None that I know of.”, and went on to describe an icy, unamused look on the interviewer’s face. Moral of the story? Read the situation; if you have a good rapport with the interviewer and the chance arises, go for it. If not, maybe lay off the jokes and save yourself an awkward situation.

    Baby faced

    Every now and again, you may sit down for an interview with someone who clearly hasn’t read your CV beforehand. In most cases, this is just an extra opportunity to sell yourself to an employer and highlight what makes you the best candidate for the job. However, for Reddit user Zulli4n, a 24 year old who claims to look like a 16 year old, this was fatal.

    Upon being called into the boardroom, his interviewer took one look at Zulli4n and laughed. Claiming he clearly had some studies to do before getting any job; he told the poor baby faced user to go back to school and exclaimed that they need to start asking for pictures on CVs. Best thing to do in situations where the interviewer hasn't read your application? Simply stay calm and make sure you get any key information across that the interviewer will have missed.

    Proof. Read.

    It’s not just the interviewees who’ve vented about an interview going pear-shaped, people on the other side of the table have shared their horror stories as well. Sam Watts, from Makemedia, has talked about his experience when advertising for a games tester and QA specialist. One candidate specifically had the perfect CV filled with relevant experience. The problem? Sam counted 25 mistakes with his CV. Still, the candidate’s CV was impressive enough to bring in for an interview, just with an added attention to detail test. The nightmare unfolded for the candidate when they arrived and were greeted with a copy of their CV and given 20 minutes to find all 25 errors. Unfortunately they only found 14 and threw the opportunity away.

    Just friends

    Sometimes the odds are simply against you and, despite your best efforts, there’s nothing you could do. Arriving 20 minutes early, one anonymous Reddit user described meeting another candidate waiting to be interviewed. Apologising for being 45 minutes delayed, the interviewer invited the first candidate in. Sitting outside the interview room, the anonymous user could hear everything.

    Some might call that a blessing; a chance to hear every question beforehand and prepare the perfect answers. That is until the conversation turns from asking about qualifications to asking about their weekend. As it turns out, the pair had been friends for over ten years and our poor anonymous user did not hear back.



  • While learning how to make a knock-out CV and what’re the best questions to ask during an interview are important, there are simply some things most people don’t learn until they apply for a jobs themselves. Hindsight is a wonderful thing, but luckily for you we spoke to some recent graduates and asked them what they wish they’d been told when applying for their very first grad jobs so that you can learn from their hard-earned wisdom.

    Start early!

    It’s never too early to start thinking about graduate jobs. Never. Graduation will come faster than you expect, and you’d probably prefer to have a job lined up when you leave university than sit at home applying for jobs all day. The earlier you start applying, the more people you’ll be ahead of.

    Work on your Google Footprint

    Many people scrutinise over their CVs, but all that hard work is lost if you haven’t thought about your online presence. Privacy settings on Facebook and Twitter are your best friend – while it might not be ideal, at least consider upping the settings while you apply, you can always lower them after you land a job!

    Make your name shine on Google. You want employers to be pleasantly surprised in what they find when they search your name, not put off. Comment on articles, provide quotes and write guest blogs! It’s all about marketing yourself as a well-rounded individual.

    Internships and extra-curricular activities are your key to success

    Whether we like it or not, having a degree is no longer all it takes to land a job. Even if you have a 1:1, so do other graduates applying for the same jobs - and yes, they’ll also have interesting projects and group modules too.

    This isn’t to say that you shouldn’t talk about your degree, but your extra-curricular work is what makes you a unique candidate. Find the value and transferable skills in the societies you took part in, or better yet, find yourself an internship. Plenty of companies and studios provide internships to students and even graduates; it’s a great way of gaining those skills that you can really only learn on the job!

    Game jams are a fantastic way to not only show off what you can do, but also demonstrate your passion. There’s plenty of game jams that go on throughout the year, but Search for a Star is one of the industry’s biggest which focuses solely on students, and offers interviews for jobs and internships with leading UK studios as rewards!

    Want help finding an internship? Sharan’s your girl.

    Sell what you achieved, not what you did

    A common mistake when writing a CV or preparing for an interview is focusing on what you did, instead of what you achieved.

    Try to frame everything in the value you brought to your previous roles. Numbers are good here; if you produced some art for your university society, find out how many people saw it, if you developed a game, find out how many people have played it.

    Get over your fear of networking

    Networking is an art form that you can’t afford to slack on in this day and age. The first thing most people will think of when they hear the word networking is a room full of men and women in suits discussing business; these events are important to learn to navigate, but there’s more to networking than just scheduled events.

    Use your university’s alumni service to find people working at companies you’re interested in. Being from the same university already gives you common ground, and alumni are often more than happy to help the next generation of graduates from their university.

    If you are planning on attending a networking event – we got you covered. You can find networking tips and tricks on our career service!

    Get organised and keep yourself busy

    Organisation is the key to success as they say. If you’re still a student, set yourself a goal of how many jobs you want to apply to in a week. Remember to keep this manageable and don’t set this too high – a smaller number of jobs applied to with a tailored application is better than a heap of jobs applied to with the same, generic CV.

    If you’ve graduated and you’re still looking for a job, work some structure into your days. Get up at a set time and set aside parts of the day for applying for jobs. Make sure to look after yourself, keep active, and if you feel yourself beginning to burn out, take a good long break and come back refreshed and eager to find a job - forcing yourself to apply when you’re feeling down will only reflect in your application.

    Don’t get disheartened

    Don’t worry if you don’t get the first few jobs you apply for. You’ll likely come across the phase “X had more experience”. It’s unavoidable as a graduate that you’ll be applying for the same job as someone who graduated a year before you, but don’t let it get you down. It’s all good experience and you can often learn something from each interview to make your next better!

    Keep looking forward, keep your head high, and focus on what you can bring to the company. If you do your research and let your passion shine through, you’ll land a job – it’s a matter of when, not if.

    Most of all, get in contact with Aardvark Swift!

    Most universities don’t inform their students of the benefits that a recruitment agency can bring, leaving most graduates to find out for themselves. The most passionate and intuitive students will find recruiters like Aardvark Swift and reap the rewards!

    Aardvark Swift in particular forges strong ties to major games, toys and licensing companies in the UK and beyond, including Sony, Nintendo, Pokemon, Mattel and Activison Blizzard. By getting in contact with us, we can help you along every step of the way to landing your dream job!


    If you’re looking for anymore advice, our Grads in Games website lists all our graduate jobs!



  • Recruitment agencies are a bit of an anomaly for most graduates. Students will go through university completely unaware of their existence, and then poof; they suddenly appear out of nowhere as soon as you leave university.

    There’s a huge benefit to actively approaching and getting involved with a recruitment agency that you simply don’t get by applying directly to the company. Agencies, like Aardvark Swift, have strong working relationships with the companies we work with and can provide all sorts of services free of charge, from sprucing up your CV to negotiating the highest salary possible for you once you land your job!

    So what exactly are all the benefits of using a recruitment agency?

    An industry expert right in your pocket

    When you first get in contact with a recruitment agency like Aardvark Swift, you’ll be assigned a dedicated consultant who’ll stick with you throughout the process. You’ll have a quick informal chat to get to know each other a bit better, but also so that your consultant can assess your skills, experience and preferred jobs.

    As Aardvark Swift works in a niche sector, we’ve gained an academic-level of knowledge on the industries that we work in. What that means is that straight off the bat we’re able to provide tailored careers advice, proof-read and improve CVs, and give you fresh interview tips.  

    They’ll find you jobs and do all the tedious paperwork

    Based on the chat you had with your consultant, they’ll be able to suggest any roles they’re currently working that they think you have a real chance of landing! They’ll do all the paperwork and, with your permission, submit you to any roles you’re excited about.

    A recruitment agency fighting your corner is like a stamp of approval in the eyes of studios; they trust our judgement and know that we only put forward people who’re more than capable of doing the job!

    Bridging the gap between you and the employer

    Studios are busy places. You could spend days waiting for a reply, only to find out that you’ve contacted the wrong person. Your consultant however will know exactly who to speak to, when to contact them, and have a direct line too! They’ll act as your point of contact with the studio and arrange any logistics, including an interview time that suits you.

    Straight after your interview, consultants will have a quick catch up with the company and collect feedback. Regardless of if you get the job or not, the consultant will go through the feedback with you and make sure you’re all happy. If you did get the job, the process will move forward, but if not, the consultant will use the feedback they received to further influence the jobs they put you forward for with the aim of being more successful next time.

    Negotiating the best deal and salary for you

    The role of an agency doesn’t stop when you’ve been offered the job. Our consultants are master negotiators and know what kind of salary you’re expecting. Once the company has made it clear that you’re the person for the job, your consultant will begin negotiations to get the best salary for you, often going above what you may have expected!

    Making relocation as easy as possible

    Moving house can be a stressful experience, but it’s not unusual for agencies like Aardvark Swift to make sure the transition goes as smoothly as possible. They can provide support with Visas applications, researching the area you’ll be moving to, and even help you find a suitable house.

    Exclusive jobs not yet on the market

    With being so engrained in the industry and having links to the companies which support it, it’s not uncommon for consultants to know of jobs which aren’t currently being advertised. With far less competition going, the odds begin stacking up in your favour even more.

    Furthermore, if you express a desire to work at a specific studio or company, your consultant can approach them on your behalf - even if the studio aren’t actively hiring. If the consultant and hiring manager both agree that you’re a talented individual, companies are often more than happy to at the very least give you an interview!

    How do I get started?

    Get in contact with us! Aardvark Swift works with a wide range of companies and studios, from small indies who’re having fun making their first game, to the industry behemoths that smash out multiple AAA games a year and big names in the licensing & toys scene. There’s always somewhere to suit your tastes.

    So whether you’re a graduate looking to break into the industry, or a senior veteran searching for your next project, come have a chat with us and see what Aardvark Swift can do for you!

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