“Do you have any questions for us?” What you should consider when facing the final interview question
If you’ve ever interviewed for a job, be it inside or outside the videogames industry, you’ll likely be familiar with the drill. You’ve navigated your way expertly through the “previous experience” questions, perhaps even swerved through some tricky employment gaps. You’ve made a pitch not too dissimilar in passion and persuasion to a rom-com protagonist as to why you’re the perfect fit for the role. You’ve even identified your own strengths and weakness in such a way that you look neither overly self-assured, nor incompetent. Now you’re at the last hurdle; “Do you have any questions you’d like to ask us?”
If you didn’t know, the correct answer is yes. But the difficulty lies inwhatto ask, and arguably just as importantly, whatnotto ask. That’s why we’ve asked some of the best-in-industry Recruiters, Line Managers, and HR staff what questions they place value on being asked, as well as providing you with some tips of our own on what you should be looking to find out, so that you can sail plainly through your next interview and land your next dream role!
Just what are we going to do with you…
Before your interview, you’ll have likely read a job spec. During the interview process, you’ll have probably been told more about what the role entails. So, why would you need to ask more about the potential day-to-day? Well, ideally you should already have a substantial idea of what the job will demand of you, but getting as thorough as you can with your understanding of the role in question will serve to assist you in making the best decision for you. Some things that may not have been covered in detail include what your day-to-day tasks will involve, what the key performance indicators will be, and the exact elements of the project you’ll be working on to name a few. The answers to these questions may be the indicating factor in knowing whether this role is right for you.
The interviewers themselves will also place value on this line of inquisition, as it displays both an objective and pragmatic approach to gauging your suitability for the role, as well as a level of attention to detail. Phil Owen, Head of Engineering at the award-winning, co-development studio d3t, notes the benefit to both studio and candidate on getting to know the role better; “I like to be asked questions about d3t and about the role the candidates are applying for, but most of all I like being asked questions…full stop!” says Phil. “An interview should not only be me interviewing a candidate, but it is also a chance for the candidate to interview me and d3t. They need to feel comfortable and excited at the prospect of working for d3t and show that they want to work within and contribute to the environment and culture we have built here”.
Boots to fill…
Have you asked yourself why this job is on the market? If so, you should be asking your interviewers! Knowing whether you’ll be filling the shoes of someone who has moved on, or whether you’ll be making the role your own from scratch can help you gauge what is expected of you, as well as (without prying) understand why someone would decide to leave the role.
Jess Galvin, Senior Production Consultant at Aardvark Swift suggests, “If the role is available because of growth, that is a good indicator that the business is doing well and they’re hiring to ensure that other members of staff are not taking on additional workload”, says Jess. “If the position is available because a previous member of staff resigned, this isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but it’s useful to see how the interviewer navigates this conversation. They may have simply moved on because of a promotion or another exciting opportunity. Be cautious when an employer suggests that they left the role because they “didn’t fit in” or if they make generally negative comments about ex-employees.” This can be an indicator of a working culture you may want to reconsider.
Ah, I see you’re a person of culture as well…
Studios greatly appreciate a keen and sincere interest in their working environment, the team, and what it has to offer, as it shows you’re personally invested in integrating into the team. Antonela Pounder, Director of Global Community at 505 Games, has a hand in hiring for the community management team, and notes an individual’s interest in their culture as a marker of a good candidate. “Culture is important to us at 505, and questions surrounding that show that the candidate’s priorities align with our own”, says Antonela. “Asking about the team and their potential role in it can be an indicator of somebody that has a collaborative mentality that can contribute positively to the work environment”.
For your own sake, it’s vital you know the type of work environment you’d be integrating into and if the studio is a place that will nurture your development both as an individual and a worker in the industry. Doing your own research is equally important, but there’s a huge value in finding out first-hand just what it’s like to work in that team before you make the studio move. Team dynamics, both in policy and in practice, vary drastically, so asking questions such as “what is the hierarchical structure here, is it flat, top-down etc?”, “What is your ethos on crunch and work/life balance in general?”, and “how do you facilitate team building and inter-disciplinary communication?” should all be at the top of your questionary ‘to-do’ list.
This isn’t about me…
What better way to find out about what it’s like to work for a studio than to ask someone who already does. Now is your chance to gain valuable first-hand knowledge on what it’s like to work for the studio. Of course, potentially negative responses may be given more “professionally”, however, their experience of working for that studio is something that won’t be on any job spec, so don’t write this line of inquiry out just yet. Asking about the interviewer’s favourite projects, their experience with the members of your potential department, and what they like or dislike about working there can all be crucial information to you. Furthermore, if done well, asking questions personal to your interviewers can allow you to build a stronger rapport and make you stand out!
I’m having… a vision…
At this point in the interview, you’ll have more of an idea of where you’re at. What you should want to know is if you join this studio, where you’re going to be. They might not be able to tell you much depending on non-disclosure agreements, but finding out as much as possible on the direction the company is heading will help you decide if that is a journey you want to be a part of.
Our Design Consultant Lawrie Brennan advises many of the candidates that he represents to make sure they get a good understanding of the trajectory of the project and business. “I think it’s critical in the candidate’s decision-making process to get to know what the studio envisions their design processes to look like in time to come, as well as where the studio aims to be in the foreseeable future”, says Lawrie. “Not only does this let you show the studio how you intend to contribute to their goals, but it shows them your intent of developing alongside them and a level of commitment and investment going forward. It’ll also give the candidate some insight into the scope of the studio’s ambitions, whether they’re realistic or something they want to be a part of, and can really be part of the deciding factor to setting a placement in motion”.
In 5 years’ time…
There’s a reason you’ve got to where you are. It isn’t by being indifferent about video games, not bothering in learning new skills, or not really investing in your career progression, is it? So don’t let that investment die now! Your personal and professional development should be of utmost importance when you’re starting a new role, especially if you’ve just broken into the industry. With that being said, your growth is 6 of one, half a dozen of the other; meaning it’s just as important that the studio cares about your growth just as much as you do, and has pathways in place to assist in your progression.
Jess Galvin offers a multifaceted approach you might what to consider when asking questions at your next interview. “Asking about what training and support the studio offers should be high on your list”, notes Jess. “Even small organisations are able to support people; they may work with external training partners who can provide you with resources and training courses so you can gain additional skills and qualifications. Similarly, if you know what you want from your career in the next 3 – 5 years, you will probably know in your mind what answer you are looking for when asking about progression plans at the studio. Particularly if they are a larger organisation, there should be room to progress and that should be reflected in the interviewer’s response.”
We have the tools, we have the talent!
Are you a dab hand with Decima, unparalleled in Unreal, or perhaps, a master with Maya?
Gaining a comprehensive outlook to what tools and software the studio utilises on a day-to-day basis will allow you to truly gauge how suited you would be to that department. If you find your specialisations align closely with the rest of the team, you could utilise this opportunity to make this known; going further in-depth into software specific questions can show you are enthused at the prospect of working with their technology and that you want to have an active contribution in making the best of their systems.
Uncovering the tools that the studio currently has can also illuminate what skillset the studio is in need of; if you have what they’re looking for, particularly niche skills, then this is a good way of showing the qualities that make you stand out as a candidate. Our Lead Programming Consultant, Dave Moss, notes the importance of displaying your skillset is a match for the studio in your questions; “When it comes to programming tools or languages, many programming teams will prefer you to have either experience in their chosen application or a more adaptable and translatable one that will allow you to fit their working seamlessly”, says Dave. “If you have a unique skill background, perhaps you’ve been an audio programmer or developed in VR; using this opportunity to find discover more on what specialties the studio is lacking on can only put you in good stead if you can show what you have to offer, and a true interest in contributing to bolstering the team’s overall skillset.”
Bonus points if you have…
If you read any of the vacancies we have available (which, of course, you should), the above is a common title for a bullet point list containing desirable but non-essential skills and experience for the role. Now is your opportunity to flip the script; what incentives and opportunities do they offer? Do they offer flexible hours, remote working, bonus or share schemes, development opportunities or charity leave? Whatever perk you’re looking for, now would be the time to ask if it’s offered, in a professional and less on-the-nose-manner (e.g. “what are some of the additional perks that come alongside this role?”). If they’re on the job spec, you could also use this time to delve into the terms and conditions if absolutely necessary to your decision to accept an offer. For example, if the spec mentions 'remote options’, then gaining clarity on if/when you need to be on-site may be a make or break.
There’s an unlimited number of questions you could choose to ask, all of which will be circumstantial to your situation, the role, and the dynamic of the interview. What’s important is that you ask something. Disregarding this opportunity is a red flag to many interviewers as a tell-tale sign of apathy to the role and the studio, even if this may not be the case. What’s more, moving studios is a huge decision, and all you want to know about what’s available to you will never fit on a job description, or be mentioned to you in an interview. Don’t pass on the opportunity to find out more on what could be your dream role. If you’re still searching for it, be sure to get in touch with us at firstname.lastname@example.org to see how we can help; best of luck from Aardvark Swift!