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.
- Don’t wear shorts, but dresses and skirts are fine. 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.
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