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sammyjojo

Got a job interview coming up and I have some questions

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So I have a job interview coming up and I was wondering about a couple of things. If they decide that they would like to hire you, do they make you decide on the spot? There's a couple of other companies that I waiting to hear back on and I really would like to know my options with them, so if I have to decide on the spot, what would be a good way of saying that I would like to take a little bit of time to see what my other options are? Should I just go all out corporate formal for the dress code during the interview? I hear of game companies being a little more laid back, but does that not matter? I tried looking around for the average salary for a <1 year experience programming job and it's seems to be about $50k (latest that i could find), so is it a good idea to just shoot for the average (maybe adjusted a little to the area) if they ask? Finally are there any particular things that i should do/watch out for? General tips?

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Hi Sammy, you wrote:

>If they decide that they would like to hire you, do they make you decide on the spot?

No.

>what would be a good way of saying that I would like to take a little bit of time to see what my other options are?

Ask, "when do you need an answer?"

>Should I just go all out corporate formal for the dress code during the interview?

Absolutely not. There are other threads here about dress code. You should read those. But to put it briefly: consider how you would probably dress to work as a programmer every day. Then gussy it up just a notch or two.

>is it a good idea to just shoot for the average (maybe adjusted a little to the area) if they ask?

I guess. Probably they'll just make you an offer. If not, you could try this: "I've done a little reading on game salaries, but what did you have in mind?"

>Finally are there any particular things that i should do/watch out for? General tips?

Yes. There are other threads, and FAQs, about job interviews. Find'em (it's part of what you need to do to get a job) and read'em.

Good luck!

[Edited by - tsloper on October 8, 2006 12:17:22 AM]

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Should I just go all out corporate formal for the dress code during the interview?

The interviewers often laugh at the interviewees (is that a word) that dress all fancy for the interview (behind their back, of course). There is no reason to get all suited up fancy, it's just trying to hard. Go in and be yourself (unless you usually wear torn jeans and a dirty shirt... then step it up a notch or six).

Above all, be clean.

And yes, it's best to take an organizer with a few copies of your resume and anything else that might be useful. More often than not you won't need it, but it doesn't hurt to be ready in case you do.

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Sammy, you wrote:

>people mention to bring things such as your resume and whatnot, should I bring that and anything else?

Resume - YES! Of course you should bring a few copies of that so that an interviewer doesn't have to look for his copy in the stack on his desk.

Whatnot - No, you can leave your whatnot at home. (^_^)

Portfolio/Demo Disc - YES. You should bring a copy of this with you. If you have a computer disc, and if you have a laptop, bring a couple copies to leave, and have it already installed on your laptop (you'll be taking the laptop home after the interview). If you have a paper portfolio, bring a copy that you can leave behind forever (it's common sense to make several copies of a paper portfolio, if you use a paper portfolio, that you can give away - read http://www.sloperama.com/advice/lesson12.htm for more about portfolios and demos).

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If they decide that they would like to hire you, do they make you decide on the spot?


No. If they try, you should turn them down, because something might be wrong. A legitimate proposal never stands or falls with a split second decision. If you're a good programmer now, you'll be a good programmer next week, too.

On the other hand, most places are hiring because they really need people to help out, and they'd love for you to start yesterday, so they'll want you to make up your mind quickly.

If you say "I'd like one week to make up my mind" they should give it to you. If they don't, they'd better have a darn good reason why. Evenso, I'd be disinclined to hire on in that case, because if they can't be flexible when they really want to look their best (because they want to hire you), then it'll probably just go downhill from there.

For salary, read the Game Developer Magazine salary surveys, and look for the bottom end if you're fresh out of school with little experience. Remember to adjust for area -- Alabama is very different from SF Bay Area!

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> If they decide that they would like to hire you, do they make you decide on the > spot?

No. It's pretty likely that you're going to be interviewing with other companies as well, and they'll expect/understand that just fine. They might ask you "how your interviewing is going" - i.e. what companies have you been to, what you like/dislike about them, if you have any offers, and what the other offers are for salary wise. Of course, you can answer only what you want to answer - you don't have to reveal anything, it's just their job to try and suck any extra information out of you for their benefit. I wouldn't reveal other offers' salary numbers until they bring something to you - then take your highest offer and go back to the lower ones and ask if they'll match it. That could help even the playing field and you can make a decision based on where you WANT to work, instead of being biased by money.

> Should I just go all out corporate formal for the dress code during the
> interview? I hear of game companies being a little more laid back, but does
> that not matter?

I've never seen a game company that dressed formal. Your best bet is to simply ask the HR person before you arrive as to what kind of dress their company employees have - then match or beat it slightly. Virtually all game companies dress in jeans & tshirt. On my interviews I go for khakis & tshirt, just to look a little cleaner.

> I tried looking around for the average salary for a <1 year experience
> programming job and it's seems to be about $50k (latest that i could find),
> so is it a good idea to just shoot for the average (maybe adjusted a little
> to the area) if they ask?

50k sounds a little low, but "1 year experience" doesn't mean much - your level of competency is more of a determining factor. If you're good, you'll get more. Most companies that I interacted with seemed to be pretty fair, and all offers were virtually equivalent.

> Finally are there any particular things that i should do/watch out for?
> General tips?

*shrug* just go and answer their questions and try to learn as much as possible about the company / project. Some companies will have you sign an NDA - that usually means they're willing to give you a lot more detailed information about the actual project. See what their thoughts are regarding writing exception-safe software; that's always a fun one to ask (if you're not of the opinion that "it's too slow" /rant).

If they say they need someone "right away" - walk away. It doesn't mean they're interested in hiring YOU immediately, it means they're in trouble and interested in hiring virtually anyone.

You could always post your impressions on here (without the company names, etc) if you want more people to try and interpret what's going on.

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Original post by tsloper
Portfolio/Demo Disc - YES. You should bring a copy of this with you. If you have a computer disc, and if you have a laptop, bring a couple copies to leave, and have it already installed on your laptop (you'll be taking the laptop home after the interview). If you have a paper portfolio, bring a copy that you can leave behind forever (it's common sense to make several copies of a paper portfolio, if you use a paper portfolio, that you can give away - read http://www.sloperama.com/advice/lesson12.htm for more about portfolios and demos).

I know that I should definitely take a copy of my demos, but should I really take a laptop with the demos on there too? I haven't really seen anyone else mention that they took one in other threads. Would interviewers rather see the demos demonstrated on laptop rather then getting a disc? I'm only asking because I don't want to take unnecessary things if I don't half to.

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Sammy,
So, play this through a moment. If you don't take a laptop, how's it going to work during the interviews? You'll be meeting several people. So talk it through, tell me how it works in your view - then I'll tell you mine.
(I assume you HAVE a laptop - if you don't, then ignore the whole thing - note that I'd said "if" before.)

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Well I'm not sure since I've never been in a interview yet :) I would think that they would have looked at my stuff since it's linked off my resume (not sure what else would have gotten me an interview, since i just graduated), but since there's probably going to be more then one person that I'm talking too, this might not be the case.

Okay, so say I'm talking to somebody that hasn't seen my little demos and they look over my resume and ask me questions about my projects and whatnot. At this point I would most definitely have my demo disk, but are they going to want to see a demonstration? If yes, I could say, "look'y here I've got a demo disc" and they would reply "amazing! lets fire it up!" which would lead to me giving them my disk and then putting into their machine which is hopefully nearby and we would look at my wonderfully crafted demos. Do they really want me to demonstrate live during the interview? I'll admit that the demonstration would probably go a lot smoother if I brought my laptop, but do interviewers expect you to demo your stuff during the interview regardless of if you have a laptop or not?

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Hi Sammy,
OK, so, you wrote:

>are they going to want to see a demonstration? If yes, I could say, "look'y here I've got a demo disc" and they would reply "amazing! lets fire it up!" which would lead to me giving them my disk and then putting into their machine which is hopefully nearby and we would look at my wonderfully crafted demos.

Then here's the problem with that scenario.
1. If your demo requires any DLLs or any kind of setup, are you 100% certain that it'll easily and quickly just start and run on any computer? If so, no problem, you don't need no stinking laptop.
2. What if you're not in the interviewer's cubicle or office, what if there's no computer handily sitting nearby?

>Do they really want me to demonstrate live during the interview?

Ask a different question: Would it help show off your talents to run your demo? It's YOUR call.

>I'll admit that the demonstration would probably go a lot smoother if I brought my laptop

And that alone isn't enough to show you the wisdom of doing so??

>but do interviewers expect you to demo your stuff during the interview regardless of if you have a laptop or not?

Ask a different question: Would it help show what you've done to run your demo? If you have one and it'll help, and if you have a laptop, doesn't it make sense to bring your demo on a laptop to make the smoothest possible demo?

The question you asked is much less important than that. It's not at all unusual for an applicant to bring a demo on a laptop and make a smooth and effective demonstration. It's also not unusual for an applicant to not bring a demo, to hem and haw about the stuff he's done and say "it's on my website, you can go look at it now," then to have the interviewer rapidly get lost in an unfriendly user interface. What the interviewer expects is to learn about YOU - and it's YOUR job to help him do that.

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Okay, so I did the interview today and got a job offer out of it :)

As cool as that is, I'm at a delima for a couple of reasons. Here's the offer essentially:

Start at 30k
Raises every 6 months with a minimum of 10%
Bonuses every now and then on projects completed on time.
Stake in the company.
A week or two crunch time at the end of every couple of months, due to smaller projects.
2 Week paid vacations
Some other stuff that I can't remember right now :(

What are anyone's thoughts on this? I have till the end of the week to give them an answer.

Other then the starting pay, I didn't think it was all that bad. I think rasies every 6 months with a minimum of 10% makes up for that in that your pay would go up fairly quickly.

So here's my problem, there's another company in California that I would like to hear back from, that just now emailed back asking me to provide possible times for an interview next week. The problem is that the California company is bigger so they take longer to do things. If I have an interview next week and then maybe fly out there for a face-to-face interview the week after, that could possibly be 2 weeks from now and I may not even get a job out of it. I doubt that I could make the company that gave me an offer to wait 2 weeks or possible longer.

Moneywise, 30k here would be about 50k in California, which would be around what I would expect to get, so they're pretty much the same. I'm not sure how the other benefits would be though. I think it would come down to how the companies are.

I think I have a few choices:
1. I can take my current offer and give up the California one
2. I can refuse my current offer and take my chances with the California one
3. I can find way of delaying my response and see what both offers might be (possibly hard to do)

Any suggestions?

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Hello Sammy old pal, you asked if you should:

>1. take [the] current offer and give up the California one
>2. refuse [the] current offer and take my chances with the California one
>3. find way of delaying [your] response and see what both offers might be

a. Make a decision grid. (How to make one of those is outlined in http://www.sloperama.com/advice/lesson25.htm.)

1. You don't have an offer from California yet. You haven't even figured out yet when you might go for an interview. So you aren't giving up an offer to take another offer. You'd be giving up the possibility of an offer (if you accept the local offer).

2. Sure, what the hell. Turn down the solid offer!

3. Okay, you could do that too. Say to the open offer "when do you need an answer?" then phone California and say "how soon can we meet?" (Slow down the one while speeding up the other.)

b. What's the worst that could happen?
X. You might get two offers and have to decide between them. Do a decision grid.
Y. You might lose out on both job opportunities.

Z. Since you haven't told us everything about you, what you like, whether or not you'd enjoy moving to California as opposed to staying where you are, close to everyone near and dear to your life, we can't help you make this decision. Do a decision grid.

Addendum: It's been so rewarding to receive your gratitude for, and complete acceptance of, all the advice you've received so far that I'm on pins and needles to find out what happens! [Retroactive sarcasm alert.] [End retroactive sarcasm alert.]

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Raises every 6 months with a minimum of 10%
Bonuses every now and then on projects completed on time.


Make sure that is in writing. Especially the six month raise and guaranteed minimum. You will especially want to find out how long this lasts, and what conditions gate the decision to disburse bonuses, and what the general timeframe for that is. Get as much documentation as you can, because it will help you make a decision (the bonus package that is paid out six months after the project ships is better than the bonus package paid out a year after the project ships).

There's also the potential thorny issue of being offered a carrot that vanishes later on. I've heard some horror stories and experienced a few myself. They're not really common, but they do exist.

One of the most important "getting-a-job" related skills I've picked up in my career -- and one of the ones that was the most difficult for me -- is the ability to be direct and ask these kinds of questions. I used to be afraid that asking about compensation details or trying to negotiate aspects of an overall compensation package would cost me the job, that the company would say, "Oh, this guy doesn't trust us, or he's too picky," or whatever. But so far, at least, that has never actually happened. Trust me -- it is much better to get all the details while the offer is on the table and can potentially be negotiated than to find out the details later when you are stuck with them.

Of course, if this is your first job you don't have quite as much negotiating power or security, but you should still get as much details as you can.

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Thanks for all the help and suggestions :)

I'll try and find out more information on the pay and at the same try to get the California company to move up their interview process, if that doesn't work out at least I tried.

Will email count as getting it in writing?

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You should also consider what it is like living in california. I dont know what it is like in Texas but the cost of living here in CA is expensive, especially if you will be in the Bay Area/Los Angeles area. It is possible to have a 50K salary in California and end up with less spending money (after bills, rent etc is paid) than a 30K job in another state. Not to scare you off or anything but these are important things to think about when deciding on a job offer.

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Original post by cmptrgear
You should also consider what it is like living in california. I dont know what it is like in Texas but the cost of living here in CA is expensive, especially if you will be in the Bay Area/Los Angeles area. It is possible to have a 50K salary in California and end up with less spending money (after bills, rent etc is paid) than a 30K job in another state. Not to scare you off or anything but these are important things to think about when deciding on a job offer.


I took my starting game programming job in CA. Starting salaries for a programmer (not tester), at least at the big publishers, are substantially higher than 50k.

The decision you are faced with is the classic bird in hand v. 2 birds in bush. 30k is crazy low, in my opinion, for a programming job. It's reasonable for a starting tester (not sure you said what the job was).

For me personally location is everything. I would die before i lived not on one of the coasts (yeah yeah texas has a coast). If the idea of working in texas or the 30k salary bums you out, i'd say wait. But i'm a risky kind of guy for job stuff. The only optimistic thing i'll throw out there is that if you got this job you're likely to get other jobs too (especially now since the industry is starving for programmers).

But definitely think long and hard. Not taking a job offer is definitely a risk; but IMHO starting out is when you want to take the biggest risks.

Try and get the company to wait a couple weeks so you can get in a position where you are at least choosing between a couple places.

-me

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Well you did your interview already, but there's one sentence I would like to say something about anyway ;)

but do interviewers expect you to demo your stuff during the interview

The magic word here would be "expect". If they DO NOT expect it - all the better ;) just think about that (also for future job applications and also other people in here). Just think about going to a rock concert and seeing everything that you expect. But think about what you would feel like if you would see anything that you DIDN'T expect? Of course in the positive way ;) that would blast you away of course ;) and that would do a massively better impression to your boss, I think ;)

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Quote:
Original post by Palidine
The decision you are faced with is the classic bird in hand v. 2 birds in bush. 30k is crazy low, in my opinion, for a programming job. It's reasonable for a starting tester (not sure you said what the job was).

You're right I never did say what position it was for, silly me I didn't notice. It's for a programming position, their offical title I think is Junior Software Engineer.

My initial reaction to the pay was the same, but that's roughtly 50k in California money and probably nearly the same on the other coast. If you don't mind me asking, what was your stating pay for you CA job? Do you think what they propose for raises makes up for starting at 30k?

Quote:
Original post by Palidine
Try and get the company to wait a couple weeks so you can get in a position where you are at least choosing between a couple places.

My main problem with my situation is that I don't have a "2nd opinion" offer that I can compare this one to. I just felt like asking a company to wait that long wasn't a good thing to do, but then again I've never asked and that's only because they wanted an answer by the end of the week.

Wouldn't asking, "Hey, I'm close to possibly getting an offer from another company, but it might take a couple of weeks, would you mind waiting that long?" sound kinda bad?

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No, you want an actual piece of paper. Signed, and on company letterhead. It should be part of the contract you sign with them.

Echo that.

It is easy (although not good for company morale) for them to say, "Yes he said that, but it wasn't part of the contract", or "That was during negotiations, but don't you remember we both decided against it before the final employment contract?"

Of course, you can always counter it by giving copies to everybody in the office and telling them that they are going back on their word, but that doesn't necessarily give you the money.

It must be an addendum to your employment agreement, signed by the person who hires you.
Quote:
Bonuses every now and then on projects completed on time.
I fell for that once also. [grin]

Ignore everything they said about bonuses.

IF you decide that a bonus is something you need, then on the first day ask "What is the exact project, and what exactly must be done to get the bonus? Exactly what is the bonus amount?" An outside observer must be able to look at the facts and tell you exactly what the bonus is going to be.

If they say, "Bonus on completion of module based on quality," you won't see a penny. But you can expect to get paid if you see "Bonus of $xxxx if project is accepted by the publisher on or before April 1st, and an additional $xxx for every full week before April 1st."

Get that in writing, on paper, with a signature also.

The one I fell for was getting a particular set of things fixed. The list was initially 19 items. It grew to nearly 100 items, and still wasn't "completed" even though the initial 19 were done. Although they might be acting in good faith, don't count on the money.

The best advice is to ignore the whole bonus thing. Assume that you will never get a bonus. When a summer job promises an end-of-season bonus, assume a bunch of layoffs two weeks before the end of the season. If a studio promises a bonus when the title is gold, don't be completely surprised to be laid off two weeks before that. Assume that you never heard the word bonus. They should pay you on your merits outright.

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Original post by sammyjojo
Wouldn't asking, "Hey, I'm close to possibly getting an offer from another company, but it might take a couple of weeks, would you mind waiting that long?" sound kinda bad?

I already suggested wording to use. Read my previous posts.

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My main problem with my situation is that I don't have a "2nd opinion" offer that I can compare this one to. I just felt like asking a company to wait that long wasn't a good thing to do, but then again I've never asked and that's only because they wanted an answer by the end of the week.

Wouldn't asking, "Hey, I'm close to possibly getting an offer from another company, but it might take a couple of weeks, would you mind waiting that long?" sound kinda bad?

If you are comfortable with the first job offer but don't have a second in hand, accept the first job.

The polite way to handle that situation is to tell your new boss "I know I just accepted this position with you, and I hate to do this to you, but company X just offered me twice the money and a new car. I have enjoyed the time with you, I just have to look out for my own interests." The boss will probably be sympathetic as they help you clean off your desk -- the day you tell them is the your last day of work.

There is nothing wrong with leaving after a few weeks if somebody else offers you more money.

You just need to do it carefully so you don't upset your former employer. Remember that you will probably end up working with some of those people again, so don't offend them.

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My initial reaction to the pay was the same, but that's roughtly 50k in California money and probably nearly the same on the other coast. If you don't mind me asking, what was your stating pay for you CA job? Do you think what they propose for raises makes up for starting at 30k?
Pay is always negotiable for professional positions. A skilled negotiator might work out a 10% bonus during the hiring process.

30K full time works out to be $15/hr.

Although I'm not in California, my past two companies offered about that much to 3rd and 4th year college students with no experience. They got no benefits, no PTO, and get used as slave labor and grunt work. The thing that makes up for it is the fact that the student gets real industry experience, a paycheck, and a company that is willing to schedule work on variable hours with (unpaid) days off for tests and finals.

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