We ran some mock interviews at Staffordshire University for the computer science students, who are all hoping to one day break into the games industry!
Many graduates entering into the industry will have little to no experience of a proper games industry interview, and this is why mock interviews with industry professionals and recruiters are vital for getting students ready for the working world.
Our experienced programming recruitment consultant Andy took the role of interviewer for the day, along with GaaSworks’ CEO Jason Fielder. Jason has a wealth of knowledge in the games industry, having worked as a programmer for years before becoming an Associate Technical Director at Exient. Over the years, he has interviewed and hired hundreds of programmers, from graduate to senior level – so he really knows his stuff!
“It is vital that students get to experience real life interviews, including putting together CVs, writing application letters and dressing the part,” says Paul Roberts, Lecturer in Computer Games Programming at Staffordshire University.
Having worked as a programmer at big industry names like Activision and TT Fusion, Paul recognises the need for industry input at universities.
“If we in the games industry don’t give the next generation of developers the opportunity to try, potentially mess it up, but learn from the process then who will. These students are your future teammates, so collaborating (university / recruitment agency / industry) in the way we have we help these guys to better present themselves and deliver the information you’re really interested in at the interview stage.”
“I wish I’d had this kind of help when I was a student. I’d much rather have found out where my weak areas were in this setting than in an interview for my dream job!”
Students took turns having a one-to-one interview with either Andy or Jason, and were tested on both technical questions and softer ones. Afterwards they received feedback on all of their answers and given advice on how they could improve.
“It’s always nice to see the next generation of engineers and people coming through the ranks,” says Jason.
“These are the people who are going to be making games over the next few decades. Not only will they make games that I’ll probably end up playing, but I’ll probably end up working with some of them at some point!”
So how did the students find it?
“I’m definitely going to do more revision into stuff like graphics programming,” says student Tom Haffenden. “If all those technical questions come up in an interview and I don’t know the answer, then that’s really something I need to improve on!”
For some, the mock interviews went better than others, but it’s safe to say that all the students benefited from the experience.
“Some have come out smiling, and it’s been brilliant because they’ve had a massive pat on the back and have been told they’re on the right track,” says Paul. “Okay, they might not have answered every question, but they’ve gotten some feedback and advice about how to answer the questions that they don’t know the answers to.
Others came out and it hasn’t been so great, because of nerves or whatever else, but they now know the areas that they need to look into to improve their skills, and the experience to know how to handle a situation when it goes south. The more you do of this, the better you get at it!”
We also believe that the integration of the games industry into education is vital, and we look forward to hosting more mock interview days!