What should I do to prepare for my phone interview with a video game studio?

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In this episode of Game Industry Career Guide Podcast, I answer a question from Eziel D. who asks, “I had to take a test to get a job as a game tester for one of the famous game developers. Currently, I’m waiting for a call for an interview. I want to ask you, what should I do to prepare for the interview call?”

In this episode, you’ll learn:

  • Why the phone interview is critical to your success in getting the job
  • The top 3 things you should do to prepare for a successful phone interview
  • Why your cell phone is actually your worst enemy when interviewing

If you have a question you'd like to get answered on the podcast, leave a comment below or ask me anything here.

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Good morning, afternoon, or evening. Welcome to the Game Industry Career Guide podcast. This is episode number 22. I’m Jason W. Bay from GameIndustryCareerGuide.com, and this is the podcast where I answer your questions about getting a job and growing your career making video games.

This week’s question is about interviewing for a job. It comes from Eziel D. who left a comment on the blog to ask this: “I had to take a test to get a job as a game tester for one of the famous game developers. Currently, I am waiting for a call for an interview. I want to ask you what should I do to prepare for the interview call.”

First impressions are everything

Eziel, I am so glad you’re putting some thought into how to do a phone interview, because it is your first and best chance to make a strong personal impression on the people that will decide whether or not to hire you. I can not overstate the importance of this first call. It’s great that you’re doing your best to prepare for it.

Phone interviews are tricky because they’re usually quite short. Normally, they’re no longer than a half an hour, and they’re often much shorter. To really nail the interview and get the best chance of progressing to the next stage of the interview process, you have to get this right. Today, I’m going to tell you about three of the most important things that you should do to nail your phone interview.

Research the company

The first thing you should do to prepare for your phone interview is to do your research on the company that you’re interviewing with. If you are doing your job search like many people do, you’ve probably applied to several different companies. Some of them you might be really excited about, and some you might not care about quite as much as the others. No matter who you’re interviewing with, it’s critical that you make your interviewer feel like you’re super interested in their company.

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This is because companies don’t want to hire employees that are simply passionate about making games, they want to hire employees who are passionate about their company specifically. If an interviewer gets a sense that you don’t really care about this specific job with this company, they’ll pass you over for someone who does.

Do some research before the phone call to learn as much as you can about the company. Learn about the games they’ve made, any recent news or press publicity, maybe even the names and careers of some of the top game designers or other people in the company. It’s likely that the interviewer will ask you a question to test your knowledge and interest. For example, they might ask you why are you interested in working for this company, or why are you excited about this company’s games. Before the call, be sure to come up with a good answer for those questions. If you don’t, then you’re unlikely to get the job.

Hone your sales pitch

The second thing you can to do prepare for your phone interview is to make sure you’ve come up with what I call your “unique sales pitch” for why you’d be a good fit for this specific company. This is critical. You do not want the phone call to come to an end before you’ve had a chance to sell the interviewer on your specific skills and talents as they would apply to the job that you’re interviewing for.

Here’s one way to make sure this happens. For starters, write down on paper the three major points of your sales pitch and have them in front of you during the call. The points could be something like “I’m a self-motivated game artist proven by the two indie games that I’ve worked on in my spare time.” Or it could be something like :I’m a detail oriented and trustworthy person which is important to my future success as a tester. I have proven this at my previous job as my manager trusted me to perform the duties each night to close down the store.” Those are just a couple of examples.

It might take some focused thought to come up with your three points. If you’re having trouble, try asking a friend or a family member to help you. They might see some talents in you that you haven’t noticed yourself, and they might be able to help you focus them into your three points.

Next, at the start of the phone interview mention to the interviewer that there are three major points you’d like to discuss and then keep your eye on the time. If it looks like you’re getting towards the end of the call and you haven’t been able to talk about your three points, remind the interviewer that there’s one or two other things that you wanted to be sure to talk about and ask them if it would be okay to discuss those points now.

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Avoid distractions

The third thing that you can do to prepare for your phone interview is to make sure you take the call from somewhere quiet and free of distractions and take the call from a reliable phone connection. If you can avoid using a cell phone for the call and instead use a landline, then I highly recommend doing that. As a hiring manager myself, I can’t tell you how many phone interviews I’ve done where the candidate’s voice would cut out and I’d have to ask them to repeat stuff, or the call would get dropped and I’d have to call them back. It’s distracting and it can indicate that the candidate isn’t good at preparing. Worst of all, it wastes valuable time on this short interview.

Also, take the call from someplace where you won’t have parents, pets, or roommates walking through the room and making noise. It’s best if you can do it from a room with a closed door. You can even hang a little sign on the door, if you have to, to let everybody know not to disturb you. That way, you’ll be able to focus all of your attention on the call and avoid wasting any time.

Okay, those are three important things that you should do to prepare for your phone interview. For a few more tips plus more details on those three tips, read the full article called, Five Phone Interview Mistakes You Must Avoid. You can find it at GameIndustryCareerGuide.com/telephone.

Thanks to Eziel for this question, and thank you for spending some time today to build your skills at job interviewing. If this information has been helpful, please tell a friend about it, or stop by the website and ask your own question. I’ll answer it on a future episode.

For more information and inspiration on getting a job and growing your career making video games, visit me at GameIndustryCareerGuide.com. I am Jason W. Bay, and I’ll see you again next week right here on the Game Industry Career Guide podcast.

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