What to Wear (and Not Wear) to a Game Job Interview

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This article is part of our Video Game Job Hunt Guide. Read the full guide to learn how to write a strong resume, build a winning portfolio, ace your job interviews and more.

Woman interviewer dressed in black

Even if the interviewers are dressed olde Victorian, still plan on wearing something more casual.

Game studios are like a lot of other tech companies: Casual. But when you add game culture into the mix, things can get weird.

I used to work with an amazing programmer who wore the same ripped-up shorts and ancient t-shirts most every day. And with an amazing artist who sometimes came to work wearing a miniskirt and cat ears. So, let’s just say, the game industry is a little bit… different.

How does that factor into your big interview day?

Let me tell you a story. Early in my career, I met a newbie game programmer who came to his interview day wearing slacks, dress shirt, suit coat and a tie. He looked sharp! At many companies, it would have been a perfect outfit for interviewing.

But this is the tech industry. He was way overdressed, and about to find himself feeling extremely out of place in front of a panel of tech-casual interviewers.

Luckily, the studio head caught him before he walked into the interview room and recommended he take off the tie and coat before going in. It was great advice, and probably saved the guy from a very uncomfortable interview. (More about him later.)

What to Wear to a Game Job Interview

How should you dress, knowing that your interviewers could be wearing shorts and flip-flops, or even sporting a tanooki tail? Here are some tips to keep in mind as you select the perfect ensemble for your tech interview.

  • There’s a difference between “casual” and “unkempt.” You can dress casually and still look nice. Make sure your clothing isn’t worn out, and your shoes are clean.
  • Pay attention to your personal hygiene. Get a haircut. Trim your fingernails. Take a shower, wash your hair. Shave.
  • It’s okay if your soap or deodorant smells like a spring breeze, but skip the perfume and cologne. You don’t want an allergic interviewer to run out because you went too heavy on the eau de toilette.
  • Slacks, dresses, skirts, or decent-looking jeans are fine (no shorts). Just remember: you’re there to showcase your skills, not your physical assets. If in doubt, err on the side of less leg/skin/cleavage rather than more.
  • If you have a gamer-geek tee-shirt or other clothing, it can be a great way to express yourself and connect with your interviewers. Just make sure it’s in good condition… and in good taste.
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If In Doubt, Ask

Guidelines are great. But every company is different, right? Luckily, there’s an easy way to find out the best way to dress for any given company: Ask them! Just call or email your contact at the company, whether it’s a hiring manger or recruiter. Ask them how you should dress for the interview. They can give you good suggestions based on their company’s specific culture and expectations.

If you can’t get specifics from the recruiter, this should be a safe bet for most any game company:

  • Guys: Dark slacks or denim jeans (no rips/holes). Button-down shirt. Casual shoes (something like Vans or Sketchers).
  • Gals: Dark slacks or denim jeans (no rips/holes), or knee-length skirt. Sweater or button-down shirt. Closed-toe shoes.

It’s All About First Impressions

First impressions count. And their first impressions of you might just start the second you walk through the door.

They’ll instinctively make assumptions about you. “Does this person look smart and talented? Do they look like they’ve got their life under control? Do they look like somebody I could click with?” It’s not fair, but it’s human nature. So make a great first impression by following this advice and dressing for a successful interview.

By the way, we hired that guy that came to his interview wearing a suit. But it was the last time we ever saw him in a necktie.

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Image: Victor Habbick / freedigitalphotos.net

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9 comments on “What to Wear (and Not Wear) to a Game Job Interview
  1. coder-loader says:

    I’ve been in the games industry for a while now, and have always felt too overly dressed. You’ve inspired me, and on Monday, I’m going to work wearing old shorts and my favorite old T! Thanks a ton!!

    • Jason W. Bay says:

      You go for it, Spiddlypip! Don’t let The Man push you around and make you wear a suit and tie. Be your own man. Express yourself! Show the world who you are – show them all who you truly are. You won’t regret it. πŸ˜‰

  2. Branden says:

    hahah. I think I know who you are talking about here. Not sure how I didn’t see this article until January.

    One of the biggest concerns I always get when finishing up the phone interview and getting invited to an in-person interview was.. what do I wear? It’s quite the dilemma. My very first interview was at Rockstar San Diego and I swear I didn’t get the job because I dressed up too much. Should have worn jeans. Lesson learned.

    Anyway.. this is good information to have for people not too sure what to wear. Thanks.

    • Jason W. Bay says:

      Hi Branden! Thanks for stopping by, it’s good to see you here. πŸ™‚

      I think I’ve over-dressed for just about every interview I’ve had. The classic advice is “it’s better to be over-dressed than under-dressed”, but the game industry is a lot more under-dressed than most people are probably used to. Especially folks who came to the industry from accounting or business or whatever.

      I hope to see you here again soon. Maybe you can even write an article on an art topic sometime, email me if you’re interested!

    • Jon says:

      Really? Jeans? I have never interviewed with a video game company, but I am hoping to do so soon. I feel like I would be very uncomfortable wearing jeans to an interview. Although, I am on the IT/IS side of stuff, so I doubt I would be interviewing with programmers or artists. I think I would most likely go with some slacks/khakis, and a button up long sleeve shirt, without a tie. Thoughts?

      • Jason W. Bay says:

        Hah – yeah, jeans are shockingly casual if you come from a more traditional business environment. Just keep in mind that the game industry sees itself as having a “working class” aesthetic, so try to avoid looking too “corporate.” If you’d be more comfortable in slacks, then maybe just wear your shirt a little casual, like maybe roll up the sleeves. (Definitely no tie.) If in doubt, call the recruiter or HR manager and ask them for advice on what to wear. Good luck!

  3. Shy Hernandez says:

    Can you des ride a little more on what girls should wear? All you said was dresses and skirts…What happens if your not into that? Can’t you just look professional?

    • Jason W. Bay says:

      Sorry that was unclear, I’ve updated the article to be more readable on that point. Women can definitely wear slacks/pants, whatever looks professional and makes you feel comfortable.

  4. Squishi says:

    heh, sounds like what I wear every single day!

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