Beware the interview

One side effect of moving into a senior role in a game company is that you will start doing interviews about the games you’ve worked on or the company in general. A cool thing about starting out at BioWare was that I had the opportunity to do interviews right away, well before I became responsible for anything.  

When you have the choice between an email interview or a live interview choose the email one, unless you are a brilliant thinking on your feet kind of person. Being able to read the questions and plan my answers generally worked best for me, minimized the number of times I was ambushed by an Interviewer. And yes, even in the games industry they try and ambush you.  

I found it best to write out which questions I thought I might be asked if a list of questions were not provided by the interviewer. If time I would run the answers by the pr dept. If they had revisions I would change about half my answers to what they wanted but kept some my way — pr departments, even the good ones, can run the risk of removing all flavor from an interview.  

Think of what is exciting on the project and talk about that. Discuss funny things that occurred during development. Throughout it all try to focus on the project goals but without being (too overt), weave references into your answers on other questions. Also if you can read interviews that this interviewer has done in the past to see what kinds of standard questions they use and the curveballs they throw.

What kind of curveballs can you expect? If your project has announced a change from your original announced feature list, even one you feel is overwhelmingly positive, you’ll be asked about it. If developing for the PC you can probably expect a couple DRM related questions. And occasionally interviewers might try to poke a hornet’s nest by asking about conflicts between developer and publisher or even between your team and another at a different company. At least three times an interviewer tried to get me to say something negative about Peter Molyneux! 

Be aware that some interviewers will not speak\read your language as their primary one. in that case it might make preparation more difficult. In these situations you will just have to try your best and if a verbal interview (likely over a bad phone connection) you’ll probably need more time than you think to finish the interview due to difficulties understanding the interviewer and they understanding you.  

In all cases being proud of the project you are working on and feeling thrilled to get the chance to talk about it will make for a better interview. Remember to take the time to exchange pleasantries with the interviewer and even ask a question or two about what is exciting them about your project!

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  • Anonymous

    Just posting on the Bio forums, for me, proved hugely helpful in the way I consider how I respond to questions — in person, via e-mail, etc. People were so excited to get any information, and sometimes an off-the-cuff or speculative comment on my part would take on a life I wasn’t quite expecting. Also helpful: getting advice like you’re offering here, but back in the day and straight from the horse’s mouth. :)

  • http://blog.brentknowles.com Brent Knowles

    Yes! That’s a very good point. The forums can be a good training ground for how to reveal information. A small tidbit of info could become the Greatest (Or Worse) News Ever Ever.