Over the past couple of months we interviewed a variety of people for a few developer positions at Cupcake Entertainment. We were fortunate to have many great candidates applying, from Brazil and abroad, as we all work from home.
Even though we got a number of great people applying, many candidates did not pass due to basic things.
They didn't fail because they lack the required experience or communication skills. They were disqualified for not demonstrating interest in the company or the work we do.
I’ve decided to put together a list of basic things you should do before applying and going to an interview in a games company in hopes that future candidates will go as far as looking at this post, or that it will help you get the job you want in other companies.
I’ll use Cupcake in examples, but I’m certain this will help anywhere else.
1 - Read the job description
Job descriptions usually have all the information you need to understand if you are fit for the position, so read it carefully and compare with your experience and knowledge.
Apply if it makes sense, otherwise it's better to wait for something that suits you. We’ve had an artist whose aspiration was to be continue being an artist applying for a programmer’s position for which he didn’t have any experience.
2 - Have a decent CV
No pictures, it’s 2017. Make sure the information is relevant and well structured. It is very important to reference previous games in which you have worked or a portfolio.
You should tailor your resume for each position you apply with information you think is the most relevant.
You should tailor your resume for each position you apply with information you think is the most relevant but also true. Careful with typos and don’t abuse the length. Explain your experience and abilities in one to two pages max.
3 - Research the company
Google them, read the news, learn about what they do and try to gather any information available about the company.
Look at the website, social media, try to understand where they come from and what they are planning for the future. It shows you are excited for the opportunity of joining them and did your homework.
4 - Make sure there is a cultural fit
The games industry nowadays is very diverse in focus with people doing console, desktop, AR/VR, mobile, casual, hardcore; you name it.
At Cupcake, we are bold and focused, and aspire to be a successful multi-billion dollar company.
We do casual brain puzzle games for Facebook and mobile and our audience consists of women over 35 years old, which we love.
That’s all we are gonna do until we reach our goal. If growing together with a casual games startup is not something you aspire too, we are not meant for each other. There must be a synergy.
We even wrote the Cupcake Manifesto, which contains everything a candidate needs to know about who we are and our aspirations. We made it that easy.
5 - Research the people interviewing you
It is normal to feel anxious before an interview, but there are tricks to make it a more pleasant experience.
Play the games is by far the most important one.
Most important one is to Google the people who are gonna be interviewing you and get to know more about them. Social media has got a lot of public information.
Maybe you’ll learn that they like The Walking Dead, so you can small talk with something like “Do you guys like TWD, I’ve been watching the last series and it is really good!”. Now you are buddies!
6 - Play the games!
Seriously people. This is by far the most important one and it the number of people we interview that didn’t get this far is mindblowing.
Games are the essence of what a games company does. I play all the games of people who apply for our job positions at Cupcake, it is only natural you do the same as a candidate. You can learn a lot about a company through their games.
Take time to write down improvement opportunities in your field of knowledge, demonstrating your expertise, like a new gameplay feature or a monetisation opportunity.
It saddens me when we interview a promising candidate whose skills and experience match what we are looking for, but have to pass because they thinks our games are for kids or haven’t heard about the company.
These things are important, they show commitment and cultural fit, and a company needs people to be in sync to work well and grow.
I hope these are helpful tips for you. If this post helps you get a job in games, it is your moral obligation to buy me a beer the next time we meet at a games conference.
Maybe at Pocket Gamer Connects London 2017? I’ll be giving a talk about how we do profitable UA.