I've broken this up into sections: general advice, common interview questions for you to practice with, and some questions you could consider asking them.

I also really quickly want to touch on some generalities for phone vs. in-person interviews. Phone interviews tend to go one of two ways - either a brief check to make sure you’re not exuding red flags (I use these to try to have a bit of a conversation, learn more about them as an artist/person and what they're excited about, and ask a few questions that they can easily spin negative just to see if they do), or else the bulk of a ‘standard’ interview without the expense and logistics of bringing you onsite.  Because of this, phone interviews can go anywhere from 10 minutes to over an hour.

There may also be a screening call (often just with HR) that's simply a 10-minute conversation to make sure you can legally work with the studio, are willing to relocate if necessary, clarify any basic questions from your application, etc. - this is not the same as the phone interview and I won't be covering screening calls here because there isn't much too 'em.

In-person interviews are typically mainly a personality check, seeing how you interact with the people you’ll be working with, etc. This is not true of every manager, but I would always go very broad in these - so your whole interview might just be with, say, the vfx team or the art team or whatever, but it might also include designers, producers, engineers, audio people, or anyone other teams/individuals you'll be expected to work with regularly. (Times also tend to vary wildly on these - it may be anywhere from an hour or two to multiple days of interviews, depending on the position, the studio, and the team. Also, as of the time of writing, Covid is still a very real thing, so your "in-person" interview will likely be a series of video interviews.)

A caveat to all of this - this is based largely on my experience as an American interviewing at or on behalf of American studios. I'm sure there are plenty of cultural differences and probably situations where some of this is just actively terrible advice. If you see anything like that, please let me know and I'll add notes!

general interview advice
  • Practice beforehand. Seriously. Practice.  It’s amazing what going through these questions even once or twice will do for your delivery and confidence - especially if you can practice with someone (in person or over the phone, or both).  No one is is their best at something the first time around - even if you spend all day talking or thinking about this stuff, translating that into words in the midst of an interview setting is its own beast. (Obviously you don't need to memorize your answers so you sound like a li' robot, just make sure you know the main points you want to hit and practice consistently hitting them.)

  • Smile a lot.  Smile until your face is ready to fall off.  It not only makes you seem more friendly, it tricks you into being more enthusiastic. And it works for phone interviews, too.:) (Practicing will help with this too! If you're less stressed trying to think of what to say on the fly, it'll be easier to be smiley!)

  • Do your research on the company, games, and interviewers beforehand.  Research their pipeline and practice the tools if possible.  Play their latest game, or the game you’re applying to work on if you can, and others if you have the time.  Be ready to talk about them.  Find some details or mutual interests to ask your interviewers about if the conversation lags.

  • Bring your portfolio (as well as test, if applicable) on a laptop or tablet, especially if you have games, levels, or other interactive demos they can play with. There won't always be a computer available in the meeting room, and it's often clunky to pull up even the cleanest website. It's also worth bringing a few hard copies of your resume, if possible - most people will bring their own because the office printer is right there, but people forget, and if you can bust one out it can make you look that much more organized.

  • Don’t trash talk anything. Even if you rarely do it intentionally, some questions are designed to let you hang yourself.  Don’t dodge these questions or claim you've never had a negative experience/impression of anything, just stay positive and focus your answers on improvements, things you learned, etc. This is just a good workplace habit, too - a) it just makes you a lot more pleasant to be around, and b) if there is something that is genuinely, truly bad, your saying so will carry more weight if you rarely give that kind of feedback.

  • Have questions ready for them as well. Most interviewers will set aside part of the interview for questions you have, so it's good to have some ready - in part because it keeps the interview flow going, but also, it's just important to make sure you'll be happy there too. However, it's also just really good to have some filler/small talk questions ready in case the conversation falters. In my experience, this is something I especially see young women get bitten by, which breaks my heart, because many devs will simply leave that interview feeling sort of off and like it kinda petered out, when it's actually just a shy or nervous person who's spent her whole life being conditioned to not talk too much.

  • Always be playing a game and ready to talk about it. This means both its strong and weak points, especially in the area you’re applying for (art, design, etc.). 

  • Put care into how you're presenting yourself.  Clothes-wise, dark jeans or slacks and a blouse or collared shirt are almost always a safe bet.  The general advice is to be the best-dressed in the room by one step, but game dev is super casual and you can get away with jeans and a t-shirt in an interview if you want, so it's really about what will make you feel the most confident and comfortable. Also, I don't see many people making this mistake these days, but please make sure you've showered and brushed your teeth and everything. If you're in a video interview, double-check what your background looks like.

common interview questions

Questions about you

  • "Tell us about yourself."

    • You will always be asked to tell them about yourself and what you do.  Have keypoints, keep it brief, and love what you do.

  • "Why did you decide to get into games?"

  • "What are your favorite games?"

    • "Why?  What are your favorite things about it?"

    • "What do you think they could have done better?" / "What didn't you like about it?"

  • "Who are your favorite artists / biggest influences?"

  • "What are you playing right now?"  (ALWAYS be playing something and ready to talk about it.)

    • "What’s your favorite thing about it?"

    • "What do you think they could improve?"

  • "Can you tell us more about [insert thing/project] on your resume?"

Work-related

  • "Why do you want to work on our game/team?"  / "What do you know about our games/studio?"

  • "What do you hope to gain out of working here?"

  • "Have you played any of our games?"

    • "What’s your favorite thing about them?"

    • "What’s something (typically this will be tailored to your career type - gameplay, art, etc.) you think could be improved?  How?"

    • Please please pleeeease play the game beforehand if possible. 

  • "Why are you looking to leave your current company?"  (If currently at a studio.)

    • Remember to be positive - instead of focusing on what sucks about your current job, focus on things you hope to gain from this new studio, such as the chance to work on a game you love, learn from people you admire, better culture fits, etc.)

  • "Tell us about your prior project(s)."

    • You can talk about games or game jams, personal projects, etc.  Like telling them about yourself, keep it brief and positive.  Detail the things you accomplished and learned during the project, challenges you overcame, etc.

    • They may also ask you to talk them through a few portfolio pieces they find particularly interesting or perplexing.

  • "What’s your favorite thing you’ve gotten to do?"

  • "What’s the hardest/most challenging thing you’ve had to do?"

    • Be positive! - was it a learning experience?  What good came out of it?

  • "What kind of studio environment do you like working in?" 

    • If, possible, research the company beforehand and tailor your answer a little to their studio environment.  Otherwise, it’s best to focus on general traits you enjoy in a studio, such as collaboration and passionate coworkers.

  • "What do you look for / think makes for a good lead?"

  • "Have you ever had a problem with a coworker? What did you do / how did you resolve in?" / "Are there types of people you don’t like working with?"

    • This is a tricky one - you can easily hang yourself with your answer.  If you've encountered a problem while working with someone, focus on the issues that cropped up between the two of you rather than them as a person, and get to the things that you did to make things better, what you learned and applied going forward, any short- and long-term benefits of the changes, etc. If you don't have any clear examples, you can instead focus on traits of people you know you really love working with. This is one of the most common ones I use and that I see others use to see if someone defaults to negativity, but it's very easy to turn it into a demonstration of your own focus on growing and improving yourself, and the humility to acknowledge that you made mistakes too.

  • "What are your career goals?"

    • May be general, may be five- or ten-year (but that’s unusual for an entry interview).

  • "What is your ideal day/week at work?"

 

Workflow / Process

  • "Can you describe your typical process?"

  • "Do you have any favorite tools / programs?"

  • "Do you know (tool x)?"

    • If they have publicly-available proprietary tools, they will likely ask about these and you should absolutely tinker with them a little before your interview.  If they don’t, they will probably simply ask about tools that they don’t see listed in your resume or much proof of in your portfolio but are part of their pipeline.

  • "How do you handle a task when you don’t know how to do it?" "How do you plan for a task whose length you can’t approximate?"

  • "Can you describe your (art/design/etc.) test and process for us?"

  • "Is there anything you wish you could fix about your test?"

  • "How long did you wind up spending on your test?  If you were going to recreate it, how long do you think it would take you?"

  • "What if we changed [x] about your test? How would you adapt what you did to that?"

potential questions for them

Always have some questions ready to ask; it helps show that you're interested and invested in the company, and helps keep conversation flowing. Most interviewers will set aside about 10/15 minutes of their interview block for your questions, and it's expected that you'll have some - these can be pretty fluffy if you don't have any concerns about the company/the industry in general, but this is also a really good time to raise any more serious questions that you have about work-life balance, team culture, etc.

On a less structural note - a lot of us are just awkward nerds talking to a stranger for the first time, and a lot of us are really bad both at saving a faltering conversation and at being self-aware enough afterwards to realize that probably doesn't reasonably reflect on the person we were interviewing. So if you have questions ready to perk your interviewers up and just get them talking or bond over something simple, it can make a huge difference in how people feel about you coming out of your interview.

  • "What are your favorite parts of working here?"

  • "What is a typical day/week like?"

  • "How much feedback do you typically have over the course of an asset?"

  • "How much do you collaborate with... (design/audio/other teams)?"

  • "What do you wish you’d known when you started here?"

  • "When should I expect an update?"

  • "What skills would you like to see me improving while I’m waiting for an update?"

  • "What are your favorite games/artists/major influence?"

  • "What sorts of hobbies do you have?" / "What do you do outside of work?"

  • "What games are you playing right now? How are you liking them?"

  • "What field would you have gone into if you didn't go into games?"

  • "You worked on [game/project/etc.] before you came here, right? How was that?"

  • "You've been here for x years, right / How long have you been here? What've been the things that kept you here so long?"