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sheep19

Having a phone interview with a game company

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Hello,

 

I am having a technical phone interview (about 30 minutes).

 

To prepare for it, I am going to:

  • Refresh my C++ knowledge (virtual functions, templates, operator overloading etc)
  • Revisit some of my old game projects so I will be able to answer questions about projects I have made
  • Study some algorithms (but what kind of algorithms), 3D math (dot/cross product)

 

The job title is "Junior Programmer".

 

What kinds of questions should I expect? It's a technical interview so I hope there won't be any stupid questions.

What else would you recommend to study for the interview?

 

Thank you,

Sheep19

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Hey Sheep,

 

From my Experience with those type of preliminary phone screenings, it is unlikely it will get into anything technical. Usually they are used as an initial screening to see if you would even remotely be fit for the role. So expect them to ask "tell me about yourself" type of interview questions, and you should also take this time to learn more about the role. 

 

Studying Technical shenanigans is unlikely to make much of a difference, so i would just make sure you have the generic "who are you/ what are you looking for" answers down cold. Being able to articulate how your previous projects will make you a better candidate for the position will also be a big help. Also sound interesting, nobody likes talking to a dead fish on the phone. But once again this is more used as a screening for whether or not to bother interviewing you, and will probably have little weight on their ultimate decision, so don't fret too much.

 

 

Just to give you an idea of what you may expect, I just recently started a junior position at a rather large AAA studio, and they just had an initial 30 minute phone interview (exactly like what your explaining), at the end of the call the guy said "alright sweet, we will be sending you information on how to take the coding test shortly" and then the next day they sent me the technical programming test they do. (So make sure that you have a clear line of action at the end of the call, if not then that probably means they wont be contacting you again). After I "Passed" the technical test (Which was trivial questions... see if you can code out of a paper bag), they invited me in for a long, in-house interview (lasted about 5 hours, met with about 7 different people of varying roles, started with a much more intense technical interview where they questioned me about areas I specifically mentioned I was weak in, probably to see how I would approach problems im not comfortable with). Then a few weeks after that they extended an offer.

Note that your experience may be completely different, Just thought I would share my experience since it seems to be similar circumstances.

 

My specific call was broken up into basically:

15 minutes talking about me/previous experience/projects

10 minutes talking about the position

5 minutes of us complaining about the heat.

 

But basically, I wouldnt really bother with "cramming" for an interview. Alot of things take time to fully sink in and understand, so its pretty easy to see through people who just quickly read something, and dont fully understand it. Just make sure you get across that you are excellent at figuring things out and not getting stuck.

Edited by theflamingskunk

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sheep, you need to research the company. Know everything about what games they've made. Be ready to answer the questions:
"What's your favorite game?"
"Why?"
"Do you have any questions for me?" (Hint: do not say "no." Have a good question to ask.)

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What kinds of questions should I expect? It's a technical interview so I hope there won't be any stupid questions.

 

As a junior programmer they expect that you know the basics of programming. They'll ask you some technical questions to see what you know and what you don't know. They'll probably expect you to complete a few simple programming questions to ensure you know things like pointer manipulation, loops and flow control, and so on.

 

They will probably ask some questions that are beyond your current skill, and probably also ask questions that have no correct answer. It is very common to ask questions about general computing topics just to see what your opinion is.  Do you prefer row-major or column-major coordinate systems, and why (or why no preference)? What are your opinions of how a genre of games has been going? What do you enjoy most in your games? What do you dislike? What are some examples where you had disagreements with others in the past and how did you deal with them? If you claim you never had a disagreement (amazing!), why is that?

 

They might ask some odd questions about your logical reasoning where they don't expect a perfect answer, but they do want you to talk them through it. Estimate how many piano tuners or gas stations there are in the city. Explain an algorithm of how to solve the wolf/lamb/cabbage cross the river problem. Explain an algorithm to solve some other simple problems.  The key is to ask for information if you need it, tell them you are not sure but coming up with something on the fly, and then just do your best to keep talking as you work your way through them. 

 

They really want to know two things: (1) Will you do the job well?  (2) Will you fit in with their culture?  

 

To both of those ends they are looking for experiences that suggest you will do the job well, such as education, hobby projects, and work experience. They'll also be looking for passion and excitement. They'll be looking to see what excites you, and where your passions lie.  If they ask why you want the job and you answer "it will pay the bills", that is very different from "I love the products you have made, I think I can help make them even better, and here's some examples."

 

While the interviews are good (Yay! Good job getting one!) the sad nature of job interviews is that many will enter but only one will win. Usually the applicant pool includes a large number of people who could all do the job and who would all fit in, but they need to eliminate all the candidates down to the one or two job openings they have. You've already beaten the majority of the applicants by getting the interview (YAY!) but even so they'll probably bring in ten or twenty but only select one, so be emotionally prepared for that and continue applying at lots of places.  Of course they are going to select somebody, so there is a chance it will be you. 

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Its been a long time but I can remmember the questions I had for one of these when I was first trying to get a job.  The questions were actually scripted and asked by a HR person as a pre screening before you went in to meet a real programmer.

Here are the questions I was asked.

What are the three access specifiers that a C++ class can have.

When do you need a virtual destructor.
What is the difference between how a list and a vector are stored
Name three C++ design patterns.

Explain the meaning of const correctness
Name one possible use for a cross product in game development

Explain how Lambertian lighting works

As you can see they are all very simple questions.

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