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thethrasher

What to expect from an interview?

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Hey guys! So I've lurked here for a while but never really signed up because I never had any valuable input(and still dont I guess), but I really wanted some of your guys' advice. I have an interview for a gaming company for an internship coming up. Its not really a game dev. company for computer/home systems, but casino games. I hoping you guys could assist me anyway. Basically, what should I expect to be asked? What should I brush up on or make sure I know for the interview? The application was for Java or C++, and I know Java pretty well, and only a little C++, but what if they start throwing questions about C++? This is the first time I'm interviewing for a position in my field of computer science, so any advice would be much appreciated :)

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Hello,

first good luck.

Tell them what you have done and what not.
Tell them what you want to learn.
Get some information about the company. Don't try to know more about them than they do ... that never works, but have an understanding what they do.
Be open to ideas where they place you. If you are in, you have a good opportunity to look into other departments.
Be honest.
Be prepared for the usual questions. Why us? Where did you learn about us? What do you expect here. Be honest. They do not expect any philosophical answers why they are the best.
If they show you around, be friendly to everyone you meet. Introduce yourself. If the situation allows it and you have a good question... ask it, if not ... then don't.
Dress nicely. (teared) Jeans and T-Shirt is not the outfit you are looking for. Especially not T-Shirts with a slogan.
Speak clear.
If you have no answer to a question ... say so.
Be honest.

--GWDev

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Just be yourself. There is little point in cramming for an interview. The extra stress might help, since some people seem to thrive on it.

Generally there is little you must do to prepare. Before you go, find out some details about the company, exactly what they do, how long they've been doing it, and what their immediate plans are. You don't need much else.


They want to know two things:

1> Will you do the job well?
2> Will you fit in?

They will ask questions and make observations toward that end.

Those questions will likely include your programming background, verbal questions about technical details, and likely a written/typed programming test.

These are typically either things you know or things you don't. If they ask about linked lists, either you know them from your studies, or not. Since they could ask any technical question they can imagine, it is very hard to cram for such an open-ended interview. Just talk and let them know what you are thinking, they'll help you out.

In addition to what you say and write, they will be observing how you act, if you are easily disturbed. They will be observing, consciously or not, details about your other traits; if you reek of smoke or hygiene issues, have poorly kept hair, wrinkled or dirty clothes, obvious and distracting tattoos and piercings, your mannerisms, even the volume you speak at. Every detail makes an impression, like it or not.

Those are not things you can cram for.




You also have responsibilities at the interview. You have two similar questions:

1> Are you able to do the job, and will you be fulfilled with it?
2> Will you be comfortable?

You should be asking questions toward that end.

Your questions will likely revolve around the details of the job, the expectations they hold, the work environment, and so on. You should also be making observations about everything you can see, hear, and smell.

You will also be making observations about them, and the corporate culture. They are usually less extreme than the 'first impressions' they will have of you as an individual, and because you are less practiced at it you will have less ideas of what to look for. There are many details like the trinkets kept at people's offices, the maintenance of the building. You could note the state of their break rooms, kitchen, and bathrooms. You can make observations about the attitudes and environments of everyone as you are shown around. Observe the posters on the walls, the way they talk, the number of meeting rooms and the number of people in them, etc. Every one of those tells a story to those who can read it.

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Frob has some excellent points. Let me just chime in though and say the -one- thing you can do to prepare for an interview (other than physical appearance and grooming) is to come up with 5 questions for the studio. The last question I ask is "what happens next?" sometimes followed by getting contact information and figuring out when a decision might be made so I can follow up appropriately.

A really good general question I ask is "what is your favorite thing about working for x?" This is something you can ask nearly anyone and it is a very solid feel good question for the person involved and can really get you some information you might otherwise not know even existed to ask about.

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Another thing is honest enthusiasm - you'd be surprised how many people get so nervous that they look like they don't even want the job. Good questions are one way to give this impression, but your overall demeanor is even more important. Sit up and lean into the conversation. Smile.

You probably will run into some questions you just don't know how to answer - they may even make a point of throwing one in there just to see your reaction! This is an opportunity for you to show how well you handle stress and deal with new problems. Don't be afraid to ask them to clarify questions. If you don't know the answer then it's okay to say so, especially if you give it an honest try anyway. Don't try and BS them - they're not stupid.

I remember one of my first interviews with a game company... After the usual questions, it came down to a technical question where I had to write up a little function. For the life of me I couldn't think of how to do it, but I started writing something down anyway. A few lines in I made a connection and just said out loud, "Sorry, I'm distracted because in my mind I'm thinking there's a better way." As I continued, I kept saying what I was thinking and how I loved these sorts of puzzle-like problems, turning the problem solving into a conversation. I ended up solving the problem with help from the interviewer, but I also proved that I'm not intimidated by hard problems and I work well in a team. I ended up getting an offer for the job.

In short, just show you want the job and stay confident. :)

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Original post by kindjie
I had to write up a little function. For the life of me I couldn't think of how to do it, but I started writing something down anyway. A few lines in I made a connection and just said out loud, "Sorry, I'm distracted because in my mind I'm thinking there's a better way." As I continued, I kept saying what I was thinking and how I loved these sorts of puzzle-like problems, turning the problem solving into a conversation. I ended up solving the problem with help from the interviewer, but I also proved that I'm not intimidated by hard problems and I work well in a team. I ended up getting an offer for the job.

I LOVE that story! (^_^)

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Original post by kindjie
I had to write up a little function. For the life of me I couldn't think of how to do it, but I started writing something down anyway. A few lines in I made a connection and just said out loud, "Sorry, I'm distracted because in my mind I'm thinking there's a better way." As I continued, I kept saying what I was thinking and how I loved these sorts of puzzle-like problems, turning the problem solving into a conversation. I ended up solving the problem with help from the interviewer, but I also proved that I'm not intimidated by hard problems and I work well in a team. I ended up getting an offer for the job.


I quite like these sort of interviews when you can talk about it with the interviewer and discuss the various approaches you could take depending what you do / don't know about the platform or other requirements. At some interviews though, they just have a fixed idea of the "best" solution to the problem that they've come up with over 10 years of interviewing, and they just sit in stony silence and watch whether you can come up with it or not, not interested in discussing anything at all or telling you anything more about the requirements.

I usually figure if it's an interview like the latter I probably wouldn't like work there anyway, but you don't know how well the interviewer represents the rest of the company. In those cases I just carry on thinking out loud and propose several different solutions depending on the actual requirements. Sometimes they listen, other times not. :)

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Original post by kindjieI remember one of my first interviews with a game company... After the usual questions, it came down to a technical question where I had to write up a little function. For the life of me I couldn't think of how to do it, but I started writing something down anyway. A few lines in I made a connection and just said out loud, "Sorry, I'm distracted because in my mind I'm thinking there's a better way." As I continued, I kept saying what I was thinking and how I loved these sorts of puzzle-like problems, turning the problem solving into a conversation. I ended up solving the problem with help from the interviewer, but I also proved that I'm not intimidated by hard problems and I work well in a team. I ended up getting an offer for the job.


I tried that approach... of course I had absolutely no sleep the night before (had to drive to the interview town and the drive took far longer than expected)... many hours of difficult questions, many I didn't solve in the alloted time, but I did bring up that I like questions like that (which I do), and that the question seemed -extremely- easy on the top, but once you try to attempt to solve it, you rapidly notice it was actually extremely difficult, to which he replied that that is why it went unnoticed as a bug for many years.

Haven't heard anything back myself from that, but I personally don't think I did well, though -- was hard for me to 'think out loud' without any sleep.


So, yeah, make sure you get plenty of rest before the interview. And drink your tea/coffee. Make sure they know that you're a problem solver, and aren't just taking their tests because you need a job. Make sure they know that you -enjoy- the problems they are giving you.

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I have an interview for a summer internship coming up and was wondering if anyone could give examples of the technical questions they might ask or problems I'll be given to solve. I'm worried they're all going to be about bitwise operations, lists and sort implementations and such which, seeing as I mostly use higher level languages, aren't particularly knowledgeable on. Even when I use c++ I'll use the STL instead of implementing my own data structures. They've already sent me a few questions that I have to solve and bring with me, one of which was about in what situations it would be best to use a bubble sort and when to use alternatives. I had no clue until I looked it up. Is it going to look really bad if I don't know these things?

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What I look for when I interview people:

- smarts (if you don't have it, game over :-)
- honesty (if you don't have it, game over!)
- communication (if you can't talk to me, how can I know?)
- humor (if you're a dead fish, chances are you won't make the working environment productive)
- specific skills (if you claim you're at level 8-of-10 in C++, you better be able to explain Koenig look-up and the use of bind_1st !)
- past performance (if you did well before, chances are that'll continue)

I don't need a fast, perfect answer to the question/s. In fact, if I get it, chances are you knew the answer because you'd gotten the question before, which is not as good as working through it out loud.
I do want inquisitiveness (don't assume any requirements -- ask!), thinking out loud (communication!) and a sense for what "done" means. If you claim it's done, be prepared for corner cases!

Pro interview tip #1: Saying "I don't know" or "I don't understand X, can you explain?" is much better than guessing and getting it wrong. If you do guess, state clearly that "I'm guessing that this means X, so in that case ..."

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Original post by Ameisethe question seemed -extremely- easy on the top, but once you try to attempt to solve it, you rapidly notice it was actually extremely difficult, to which he replied that that is why it went unnoticed as a bug for many years.


Out of curiosity, what was the problem?

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Original post by moly
I have an interview for a summer internship coming up and was wondering if anyone could give examples of the technical questions they might ask or problems I'll be given to solve. I'm worried they're all going to be about bitwise operations, lists and sort implementations and such which, seeing as I mostly use higher level languages, aren't particularly knowledgeable on. Even when I use c++ I'll use the STL instead of implementing my own data structures. They've already sent me a few questions that I have to solve and bring with me, one of which was about in what situations it would be best to use a bubble sort and when to use alternatives. I had no clue until I looked it up. Is it going to look really bad if I don't know these things?


http://halcyon.usc.edu/~kiran/msqs.html#puzzles

those are fun.

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Original post by way2lazy2care
Quote:
Original post by moly
I have an interview for a summer internship coming up and was wondering if anyone could give examples of the technical questions they might ask or problems I'll be given to solve. I'm worried they're all going to be about bitwise operations, lists and sort implementations and such which, seeing as I mostly use higher level languages, aren't particularly knowledgeable on. Even when I use c++ I'll use the STL instead of implementing my own data structures. They've already sent me a few questions that I have to solve and bring with me, one of which was about in what situations it would be best to use a bubble sort and when to use alternatives. I had no clue until I looked it up. Is it going to look really bad if I don't know these things?


http://halcyon.usc.edu/~kiran/msqs.html#puzzles

those are fun.


Is it bad that I don't really understand the logic, or reasoning behind any of the questions and most of the answers given? They come off as very poorly worded for the sake of confusion. Which might be the point. Or maybe they are supposed to be impossible, but some of them have "concrete" answers on that website that don't make much logical sense to me.

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Original post by KorJax
Is it bad that I don't really understand the logic, or reasoning behind any of the questions and most of the answers given? They come off as very poorly worded for the sake of confusion. Which might be the point. Or maybe they are supposed to be impossible, but some of them have "concrete" answers on that website that don't make much logical sense to me.


Which didn't you understand? I understood most of them without too much trouble.

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Quite a few years ago I went for a dev interview with SI. From what I recall I showed them some arcade shooter I'd coded up in my free time while at uni, then we went for lunch and a few drinks at the local ale-house and they offered me the job.

I didn't take them up on it in the end, but it was a great interview experience, with no technical questions I can recall. I did make it known that I supported the same football team as the guys who were interviewing me and we generally got on really well, which probably counted for as much as my technical skills.

If you're going for an interview - especially if you don't have a lot of experience - then how you interact with the people doing the interview counts for a lot. A lot of technical skills are going to need to be (re)learnt anyhow. Certainly I learned more in 3 months at my first job about how to program commercially, than I did in 3 years at uni on my software engineering degree.

Never argue with the interviewer. By all means discuss things in a friendly, open way if you disagree, but one way to guarantee you wont get a job is if you are aggressive, wont man-up if you're wrong, or if you push a point and you are wrong.

Don't lie or exaggerate, either in your CV or in the interview. Be honest and prepared to back up anything you say you can do. Mostly I've found that employers are looking for intelligent people who will fit into the team, rather than someone who will come in with 100% technical ability, but will rub people in the team up the wrong way. I've found this is true even in the freelance sector where people might come in for 3-6 months.

If you're asked to code something, code it up in the simplest way possible. Employers generally shy away from people who write code which is a convoluted unmaintainable mess, over-engineered and with no comments.

Over the years I've found that one thing that helps is go into the interview thinking that you dont care if you get the job or not. You need to be relaxed and come across in a natural, friendly way, so having that thought in my mind always helps me.

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