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2 Jan 2014

Nailing the Interview to Win Your Dream Indie Job

As stated throughout the week, this week’s series of posts is all about new beginnings to commemorate the New Year. If you have read this week’s series, you would know that by new beginnings, I’m talking about preparing yourself to get that sought after indie development job in 2014. Whether you are fresh out of college or you want to change your career and enter into the industry, one thing is certain: many people are in the same position as you. They want to get that dream job as badly as you want it, yet not all of them are prepared to be competitive.

Thus, that is where this week’s series comes into play. It is designed to be guide for you as you prepare to become a serious candidate for that coveted position at an indie development studio. From preparing a killer portfolio as an artist (or really, a writer, programmer, etc.) to creating an awesome resume to earning experience when no one will give it to you, today’s post brings us to our ultimate goal: the interview.

The funny thing about interviews is that when you are job hunting and submitting resumes and portfolios to different employers, it’s the one goal you are working for. Everyone wants a callback, and they all want that chance to impress the hiring manager and work at the studio of their dreams. Yet, when most people get a chance to show what they are made of and are invited to have an interview? Most people have no idea what to do next. So what can you do to ensure that you don’t mess up your interview? Below are the tips you need to know to impress any hiring manager and obtain the indie development job of your dreams.



Showcase your strong communication skills

Remember in the resume post a few days ago when I said that you should never mention that you have ‘good communication skills?’ Not only does it sound like a copout skill to include in a resume, but if hiring managers like what they see in regards to your resume/portfolio and invite you to an interview, you are going to have the chance to show off these skills anyway. Good communication skills are a must no matter where you work, and you need to show the hiring manager that is interviewing you that you have the ability to speak clearly and make quick and effective points.

When speaking with hiring managers, speak with confidence. Look them directly in the eye, slow down when you talk, and don’t be afraid of silences. We talk quickly when we are nervous and say words such as “um” and “like.” I’m guilty of doing this as well, as when I’m talking to people in a professional setting, I catch myself talking quickly and using “um” to break silences. It’s habits I am always battling and trying to fix, so know that you will not be able to fix these problems overnight. However, be mindful of these habits and avoid doing them in your interviews as much as possible.



Don’t think faster than your mouth can talk

Have you ever noticed that when you start talking about something you are passionate about, your brain thinks faster than your mouth moves? It confuses the receiver of your message. You may have some good ideas in your mind, but if you cannot clearly articulate them to the hiring manager, they’re going to be lost, confused, and the point of your message isn’t going to come across to them. Furthermore, they may feel as if you have poor communication skills – something you want to avoid at all costs.

Thus, as stated in the first tip – slow it down. Let your mind catch up with your mouth. Not only will you be able to get your ideas across to the hiring manager, but they will be able to clearly hear what you are trying to tell them.



Never drown the hiring manager in detail

Let’s assume for a moment that you have a ton of achievements you can talk about. You have developed a few games, helped on many other games, and you were the President of a few clubs in college. If you think the hiring manager wants to hear about every little detail surrounding these accomplishments, you’re wrong.

You only have roughly half an hour to impress the hiring manager conducting the interview. Touch a little bit on many of your achievements, but do not bore them with the details. Think of your interview as a short film teaser to what your career is going to be later in life. Intrigue the hiring manager, impress them, and do your part to leave them ‘wanting more’ after you leave the interview.



Know the company

This is a big one. Indie studios want to hire employees that are fans of their games, have played them, and want to take the ideas they have accrued as fans and apply them to future games. They do not just want people who want a job/want to make games. Think about it: do you think TellTale Games hires just anyone to work for them? Do you think they would hire someone that didn’t play the first season of The Walking Dead? Absolutely not.

You also need to know a little bit about the studio’s history. Read some of their recent news and announcements. If something newsworthy occurred in the last few months, congratulate the hiring manager on the company’s success. Not only does this show them that you care about the studio’s future, but that you also follow the studio closely. This will impress the hiring manager immensely.

Once again, I’ll throw the rest of the post to you guys. Do you have any interviewing tips you would like to add to help those trying to get a job at an indie studio? List them in the comments below!

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