Experiences with Interviewing So Far
May 9, 2011 3 Comments
So I’m currently looking for a job in the game industry, location and salary are secondary to the work at this point. I kinda just want to get out of South Africa and work on something cool. I’m still young enough not have to worry about supporting a family, stability or dealing with crunch time, I kinda just need a chance. I’ve spent the last few weeks sending applications, writing programming tests and interviewing. And to be dead honest, I’m kinda starting to lose a bit of faith in myself and my chances of landing an entry level game dev job without any game experience.
Now before I carry on with this post, I need to just say that I, in no way regret any of the interviews I’ve had, I’ve learned something from each and every one of them. It’s actually been kinda fun even though I felt like a complete idiot a couple of times (I tend to be really hard on myself). The programming tests were a lot of fun and one plus is that I’ve passed all the tests I’ve written.
I guess my self esteem has taken a bit of a knock from the whole process. Just to be clear, its not like I was clueless, I answered most questions, it’s just that there was always one little section in each interview that I hadnt had any experience with. Hell, for some of the questions, I couldnt recall the answer off the top of my head but I knew exactly which book in my library held the answer :/ I guess I’m just worried that if I dont manage to answer every question perfectly, they’ll think poorly of me.
Its not like I dont have any knowledge of all the topics I was asked on, all of the topics were familiar to me but not to level of being able to to answer in-depth questions on the them. Hell, I havent even spent that much time reading up on or played with navmeshes even though my thesis was on pathfinding (I focussed on grid based techniques). So I cant really answer any really in-depth questions on the various navmesh subdivision techniques available even though I can discuss navmeshes quite competantly on a higher level. Then again ask me about grid maps and I’d be able to name and discuss like 20 different search algorithms, abstraction techniques, etc, etc …
I guess I’m probably being a bit silly, I dont think anyone actually expects me to be able to answer all the questions on every single topic but personally not knowing something makes me feel stupid and I hate that feeling. I’ve literally gone and read up on each of the topic I hadnt had experience with after the interviews. Hell, I was so embarrassed that I’d never really taken the time to look into shadow mapping and got asked about it in the one interview that I went and read up it and quickly wrote a basic shadow mapping app. The whole exercise took me all of 4 hours, now if only I had thought to do that before the interview. haha :)
Granted I know it probably wouldnt have changed the end result but at least I wouldnt have felt so stupid. To an extent its also my own fault, I’ve been trying to cover all bases and so have ended up spreading myself across a bunch of topics from AI to graphics to engine design to animation and so on. I know the basics of almost all the game dev engineering fields but I’ve never really focussed on any single field in minute detail. I guess I should have focussed on a single area but then again I would imagine most game programmers at least have some idea of fields outside their specialization.
Thats the one thing I cant wait for in the game industry, the opportunity to specialize. To be able to spend 8+ hours a day focussing on a single field. That is honestly the only thing I really want in my life right now.
Another problem I’m having is that I’m just finding it hard to sell myself over the phone. I’m not exactly good at building myself up and I get really fucking nervous during the interviews. I’m just worried that I come across as some sort of stuttering, idiot. How do I get across that even though I might not have all the knowledge necessary at this point in time, I’m smart, dedicated and I pick things up really quickly. I also have a lot of experience from other field which while not directly relevant might be useful. I know I can be an asset I just need to convey that fact in a phone interview. Writing a confident cover letter was one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to do just because I kinda get embarrassed trying to describe myself in a flattering way.
Anyways, I have around 6~7 weeks left before my contract expires and I’m unemployed. I guess I’m kinda starting to freak out a bit. I’m finally free to start my career and I really, really, really want to get into game dev. I honestly dont want to go back into the corporate sector. I think I’ve reached my lifetime quota of database optimization work ;)
There is one company for which I thought the folloup interview went reasonably well. The company and their projects are pretty much exactly what I’m looking for and the engineers I spoke sounded like really awesome guys. Man, I’d be over the moon if they decide to give me a chance. Here’s hoping… *holds thumbs :P