During the past year at ResIM, we’ve received numerous resumes and met with dozens of applicants. This is what we didn’t see enough of:
Submit code samples, discuss what you’ve built and how you’ve built it. Whether you’re hoping to work at a AAA game development studio, or wanting to join a small agency, be prepared to show examples of your code. If a company doesn’t ask — or seem to care — about your previous work (whether in school or part-time jobs), they might not be terribly reputable. Interviewers will view you similarly if you show up empty handed. In university, we heard a story about a student who brought his laptop to an interview at Electronic Arts Montreal. Not only did he receive a job offer based on a quick game demo built for an assignment, but the two other students he worked with were offered positions as well.
Keep it professional. We want to get to know you — your interests, your hobbies, your passions. There is, however, a line. For the love of all that is good and holy, please don’t tell us about the time you were fired from a job because you moved in with your boyfriend. Please.
Show you care. Unless you’re the next Zuckerberg, showing up in flip flops with an “I don’t give a shit” attitude is not going to make us think you’re hot shit. We’re going to honestly and truly believe that you just don’t care.
Prepare for a technical interview (just in case). With major tech companies some technical component is almost a guarantee. You’ll be asked a series of questions featuring everything from first year computer science theory to algorithm design and optimization. Practice, practice, practice. And then practice some more on a whiteboard. Writing on paper in the privacy of your room or dorm is not the same as writing on a giant whiteboard in front of hungover senior developers from a Fortune500 company. Trust.
Show passion. Most companies want to hire individuals who love what they do, are passionate about the work they produce, and want to improve their ‘craft’. Be honest about your skill level, but also about how you either plan to— or are currently — improving yourself. Whether it’s with Treehouse classes, hoarding textbooks or just building pet projects to learn new languages, employers love enthusiasm.
Know your industry. Have a sense of who works in the industry, who you admire, who you aspire to be. Why are they awesome?!
Keep your resume relevant. Even if you don’t have a lot of work experience, I firmly believe in excluding that summer you worked at DQ while home for summer break. Instead, pad your resume with examples of school projects. Use your school experience as supplemental work experience. As much as I may envy how closely you worked beside the soft serve machine, I care much more about the hours you spent fiddling with the GitHub API.
Hold the BS. In this industry, it’s not as easy to bullshit your way through an interview. You may think that exaggerating the knowledge you have about web security will impress your interviewers, but they know which questions to ask. Catching you in a lie will not only make you look really really bad, but will make everyone feel awkward. Besides, an interviewee who lied their way through an interview could mean an employee who lies about the amount of work they’ve completed at code review time. Avoid it — please.