Valve Corporation Interview Questions & Reviews
Getting an Interview
Senior Software Engineer Interview (Negative Experience; Average Interview)
I applied online and the process took a day - interviewed at Valve Corporation.
Interview Details – They did not go very deep. They asked some abstract questions, and unfortunately seems they may have had some animosity towards a former employer. They did give me feedback on why they turned me down, but it was essentially an inverse of strengths I've successfully demonstrated (and even gave several examples of) in previous work experience.
I like to be transparent with my resume, so I was upfront with my weaknesses. Surprisingly they did not mention those as the reasons. That was a little concerning. I think they just saw the former employer they did not like, drew some generalizations and jumped to conclusions.
In the end, the interview processes worked. It helped me realize that the culture there is probably too abstract (and maybe short-sighted) for my tastes. Though Valve has made some great games, I am a bit concerned about the future growth of this company. For example, they tried to grow their hardware team once, but it seems the culture was unable to diversify itself enough to support that change. The company even renamed itself from "Valve Software" to "Valve Corporation" but sadly it seems their culture, coupled with the beaten path that their original team members created, have gotten them stuck with what they're only familiar with.
I hope I'm wrong. Valve has done some pretty amazing products in the past and still I'll cheer for them. But if you worked for a company of which they shared some animosity towards, I wouldn't waste your time. They're (unfortunately) unable to look past the surface. If you get rejected, I wouldn't take it seriously. Valve kinda lives in their own world and can have some unusual reasons for turning you down.
Very Easy Interview
Electrical Engineer Interview (Negative Experience; Very Easy Interview)
I applied through a recruiter and the process took 1 week - interviewed at Valve Corporation in February 2014.
Interview Details – Initial interview was an informal meeting over lunch to see if I was a cultural fit.
Second interview consisted of a number of interviews with technical people as well as another cultural fit lunch. Each of these interviews lasted ~30-40 minutes and were spaced an hour apart. The remaining time in each hour was spent with me in the lobby waiting while they discussed the last interview amongst themselves in a conference room.
I was asked incredibly basic and vague questions. Nothing even remotely challenging. They were very non specific, however, so I asked various clarifying questions which did not yield any new information, but did tick off the interviewers. The last interview consisted of two people from an entirely different field asking me a completely unrelated question and then rushing me through an answer.
Overall - by the end of the last interview I had a very sour taste in my mouth - they had not tested my skills whatsoever. They had another discussion and called me back to talk with them - and turned me down on the spot. Their reason was, essentially, that I asked too many clarifying questions and they wanted somebody who didn't need to ask questions. I can't imagine any competent engineer would make assumptions about the things I asked them - so it is unclear to me what sort of engineer they were really looking for.
Interview Question – How would you design a scoring system for Left 4 Dead? Answer Question
No Idea Interview (Negative Experience; Average Interview)
I applied through an employee referral and the process took a day - interviewed at Valve Corporation in February 2011.
Interview Details – They recruited me, would not say what job I was even interviewing for, and then told me NO without any explanation.
Interview Question – Why do you want to work with us? View Answers (3)
Bilingual Technical Support Interview (Negative Experience; Average Interview)
I applied through a recruiter and the process took 1+ week - interviewed at Valve Corporation in February 2012.
Interview Details – I got contacted by a recruiter through LinkedIn, who offered me to apply to this position. I had a 1:1 interview in this recruiting agency, then I received a skill translation test test. The I had a 1 hour long phone interview, where had to answer to a whole list of both technical and business related questions questions: what do we need to do with a piracy problem in the given country? What are the best dates to run marketing campaigns in your country? What is a device driver? How would you write a specific query in SQL? etc. Next day I received a email from them, saying that I was not an ideal fit. It did not bother me at all until I found out that they interviewed a few my friends from my MBA program during the last year and nobody of them got to 1:1 interview.
Everybody made a translation of different game summaries and shared many valuable business development ideas.
It is obvious, that if they needed to hire somebody for this entry level position they would find a fit during the whole year. I guess that it is a part of their business strategy: have less employees, decrease costs, have industry highest profit- let applicants do some work for free, at least translations and business consulting. I like the idea, but I don't like to be fooled.
Steam Release Engineer Interview (Negative Experience; Average Interview)
I applied online and the process took a day - interviewed at Valve Corporation in November 2010.
Interview Details – Phone screen gated for qualifications from job posting then scheduled on-site interview. On site interview was an all day affair with interview teams and a whiteboard. Questions were technical in nature along with customer support questions. Job listing and phone screen didn't quite match up with on site interview as phone/listing didn't mention DRM knowledge as required nor expert level programming, just working knowledge.
Basically they're swamped with interviewees and are looking for any reason to reject an applicant in order to get the most qualified.
Software Engineer Interview (Negative Experience; Difficult Interview)
I applied through an employee referral and the process took a day - interviewed at Valve Corporation in March 2009.
Interview Details – The interview lasted all day, and happened in phases. Each phase consisted of being interviewed by 2 people at a time. They asked questions about experience (based on resume) and then pose a problem to solve, with the help of a white-board to explain details. Two of the phases entailed technical questions (e.g. how would you solve a specific toy technical problem). One of the phases was a game design problem (e.g. explain a design for a game, in sufficient detail that after leaving the meeting, people would know what to code and assets to start creating). One phase was just lunch, where they asked about work ethic and standards success. I believe they wanted to hear that your definition of success is that the product satisfies the consumers' needs. The final phase entailed a conversation with the owner.
Interview Question – Implement specific algorithms. Answer Question
Translator Interview (Neutral Experience; Easy Interview)
I applied online and the process took 1 week - interviewed at Valve Corporation.
Interview Details – They want you to translate games description for them to review.
Developer Relations Interview (Negative Experience; Average Interview)
The process took a day - interviewed at Valve Corporation in November 2011.
Interview Details – Started with a 30 min phone interview. About a month later, I was in the office for an all day interview. Consisting of two people per meeting, with a white board to assist (though I didn't use it). Took me out for a nice lunch and afterward I just sat in the room (by myself) for 40 minutes. Two people came in and told me that they loved me but I didn't fit the structure they had in place and sent me on my way. They had another person interviewing the same day I was there and the guy who gave me a lift home told me he drives candidates back and forth all day every day for Valve. Beware, if you aren't 100% a perfect match from the get-go then the interview is a waste of time. Even if you are perfect in every way and don't conform to the company 'flat' structure (which anyone can adapt toward) they will usher you out. As another person said, they are just interviewing as much as possible.