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  • Writer's pictureDeana Galbraith

How I got hired at Neopets as a Design Lead

Sometimes I get asked how I got my job at Neopets so I thought I'd share my story on how I did it. In this blog, I'll also share some job hunting/interview tips. The hiring process can vary based on the company, role, etc. as with any advice you hear, would take this with a grain of salt. So let's jump into it!


 

Background

At this point in my career, I had been working as a game designer for around 5 years and was looking to 'move up' into a higher position, something more in the senior or manager realm. Although I had been working as a game designer for a bit, a lot of my work revolved around UX and interactive experiences. I also had a web content background from working at my local government office in the IT department for a few years, so I was familiar with web development.


Job Hunting


Throughout my career, I have worked fully remote or hybrid roles and I was interested in sticking to that. So I primarily focused on searching for remote-friendly roles and used websites that focused on that. My go-to job-hunting sites were:


- and LinkedIn



Along with those sites, nowadays I also recommend:


I was searching on LinkedIn when I came across a job ad for a Lead Game Designer position at Jumpstart Games for the Neopets Product. I was excited to see it because I had played Neopets for a bit in my childhood and didn't know the site was still running. So I applied through LinkedIn and started playing Neopets again to see how the site was fairing.


Tracking Job Applications

Something that's good to do if you're planning on job searching is to put together a Google sheet or Excel sheet for all the job applications you'll apply to. This helps a ton with managing multiple applications and seeing where everything is when talking to multiple people. I usually break mine down into:

  • Sheet 1: Applied Positions (Position Name (link to job post), Company, Date Applied, Response, Interview, and a details section)

  • Sheet 2: Interview Prep (interview questions to ask throughout the interview process can be generic and specific to the company you're talking to)

  • Sheet 3: Ending Interview (interview questions/ things to do specifically for the end of the interviews)


I'll share more about the questions I usually ask throughout the blog :) .


The First Interview

I received an email shortly after applying asking for a phone interview to learn more about the role and company. I was super excited to hear back from the team! I did some additional research on the company and Neopets and wrote down some questions to ask the interviewer.


Below are the questions I normally ask throughout the interview process if they haven't already answered them:

  • How big is the team?

  • Who will I be directly working with?

  • What type of projects are currently being worked on?

  • If the company does service-based work I ask what the work balance is between internal and external projects. (This is good to know how much internal IP the company actually works on versus working with clients).

  • If the company does games and non-games projects I like to ask what the workload between the two types of projects there are. (This is to get an understanding on how much work is actually 'games' vs AR/VR and other types of projects).

  • What are the biggest challenges that someone in this position would face?

  • How did you get started at <company>? What's your journey been like?


In the first interview with Neopets, we discussed what the role was about, the history of the product, and my experience. Throughout the call, we spoke about some challenges the product faced and I noted down the paint points the interviewer mentioned.


I thought the call went well and when the interview ended I sent a thank you email to the interviewer thanking them for taking the time to meet with me.


Standing Out

After learning more about the role, the team, the company, etc. I knew this would be a job and company I'd love to work with and I really wanted the job! So I thought about how I could stand out. The interviewer noted a pain point with users during the call about how some players didn't like the way their Neopets appeared in the new html5 template compared to the classic website. I got to work on putting together a quick design and prototype to address the feedback. This would be a way I could showcase my skills, how I can creatively solve problems, and how I was a great listener :) .


While wrapping up the design proposal I put together, I got an email for another interview, the design test!!


Design Test


For the design test, I was video chatting and screen sharing with two interviewers while using Miro Board to design. Before we got started I told the interviewer I had a design I worked on based on our last discussion I'd like to send after the interview and asked if that would be alright. She said yes!


For the test, I was presented with an older Neopet web page and I had to redesign it within a Miro board on the spot within the alloted time and talk through the design with the interviewers. I was super nervous! It was my first time doing a design test like this so I focused on designing and talking throughout the work, explaining decisions I was making throughout the call. When I wasn't sure about something I would ask questions and work together with the interviewer.


Design Test Tip: Don't be afraid to ask questions! It's a great opportunity to show how you can work with the team and how you're a team player :)


After completing the design test I answered a couple more technical questions and asked a few of my own and we parted ways.


The Design Proposal

Shortly after the design test was completed I sent another thank you email along with my design proposal. Then I sat and wallowed in my pit of anxiety while I waited for a response. xD


Below is the design proposal I sent!

<TOTALLY NOT CRINGING LOOKING AT THIS YEARS LATER>

Galbraith_Neopet Interview- Neopet Design Proposal
.
Download • 3.15MB

Looking back at this, it didn't totally resolve the issue players were having but it did bring an interesting solution that could get discussions started.


The Third and FINAL Interview!

A week or so later I got an email for a third and final interview which I was told would decide who the candidate would be. This ended up being a video chat meeting with a majority of the development team with around 10+ people! We all did introductions and the team did a speed run of questions back to back asking about games I liked, my design process, my experience with Neopets, and more. I also got to ask questions and it was the most wholesome interview I ever had!! We joked, laughed, and the team was also learning new stuff about each other. The team was SO nice and it was amazing meeting everyone and seeing who I could be potentially working with.


After the interview I sent another thank you email because...its good to be polite <3


The Verdict (dun dun..DUNNNN)

SPOILER ALERTTTT, I got the job! Shortly after the interview, I received an email saying I got the position and would get an offer letter soon, which I accepted!!


And that's the story of how I got to work at Neopets, I hope it was helpful in some way and helped show what the interview process could be like for a design position. Thanks for tuning in!

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