Valve Corporation Interview Questions

Updated Jun 25, 2015
19 Interview Reviews

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  1. Helpful (4)  

    Systems Engineer Interview

    Anonymous Interview Candidate
    No Offer
    Negative Experience
    Average Interview

    Application

    I applied online. The process took 1 day. I interviewed at Valve Corporation in June 2015.

    Interview

    I applied online and received an email requesting a phone interview about two weeks later. Typically the first point of contact at companies I've interviewed with in the past mostly involve getting a feel for my past experience and determining if I'm a good fit to proceed with a technical interview. I was given little indication what Valve's phone interview would entail, and was somewhat surprised with the outcome. The phone interview started as I expected. We reviewed my previous experience and I talked about why I'm interested in Valve. Great so far. Then out of no where they ask me a completely open ended design question. "Design me X"... The scope of the question was beyond anything anyone could answer in a half hour phone interview. I was confused. I asked clarifying questions which were met with resistance. I'd start talking about the topic then they'd start putting restrictions topic to guide me in a different direction. It was overall incredibly frustrating. I knew a great deal about the topic, but each route I took was cut off before I could develop depth. I have no idea what they wanted to hear. In retrospect I'm unsure if they did either. After that disaster of a question they pulled up a google doc file and asked me one very straightforward question. Implement some trivial function that does X. It was a freshmen level computer science question. I was flustered by the previous question, and felt a bit patronized that they'd ask me something like this given my experience. I stumbled around and wrote something that probably worked while they did the equivalent of watching over my shoulder while I programmed. It was unnerving. I solve problems much more complex that freshman 101 level homework questions everyday. No one watches over my shoulder while I do it. I'm not sure what this was supposed to reveal about me. This was not a pleasant experience. After the interview I received an email with no feedback saying they were not going to proceed with me as a candidate. Their interview style is odd, but perhaps it works for them. I can't help but feel like my time was wasted by interviewing with them though.

    Interview Questions

    • They asked me an open ended design question with a broad scope. I'm unsure what they are looking for here and the give little indication if you are providing them with answers they are interested in hearing or not. There would be no way to prepare for this interview.   Answer Question
  2. Helpful (2)  

    Embedded Software Engineer Interview

    Anonymous Interview Candidate in Seattle, WA
    No Offer
    Negative Experience
    Average Interview

    Application

    I applied in-person. The process took 1 day. I interviewed at Valve Corporation (Seattle, WA) in May 2015.

    Interview

    Applied online, heard back relatively quickly. Had lunch with recruiter/hiring manager, they decided to move forward with an interview loop. Brushed up on embedded questions (bit manipulation, string/array management, kernel optimization, multithreading, interrupt contexts) and just in case, also brushed up on irrelevant high level CS BS, such as graphs, binary trees, heaps, etc. Unfortunately, they only asked game development-related software questions (geometry-heavy simple math questions implemented efficiently in code), and then proceeded to assume that kernel software engineers should know how to design hardware at a high level of competency. Explained that I could design simple hardware like a prototype gamepad or customize a reference design, but it takes years of relevant experience to make something ready for mass production. They ended the interview loop early since I didn't do well on the software question, did not offer me a chance to redeem myself with another question. I went home with a bad taste in my mouth both about their level of professionalism and their hardware design prospects. They have a cavalier attitude about hardware mass production and driver development which is going to serve them very poorly as they attempt to ramp up. Most of the real work in designing a hardware product comes after the prototype phase, as Kickstarter has publicly demonstrated.

    Interview Questions

    • Find shortest distance between axis-aligned rectangles   Answer Question
    • How would you improve the hardware design of a dismantled example gamepad?   Answer Question
  3. Helpful (8)  

    Translator Interview

    Anonymous Interview Candidate
    No Offer
    Negative Experience
    Difficult Interview

    Application

    I applied online. The process took 3 weeks. I interviewed at Valve Corporation in March 2015.

    Interview

    The interview process is very long and is in stages. I made it to the second stage. After sending in my resume without a cover letter, since there is no specific area on their career page for localization and translations as is with their competitors, I received notification of their interest within a week. I was asked to complete a translation test within 24 hours into my "native" language (my native language is obviously English as noted on the top of my resume, so I asked which of my fluent, native-level languages to translate into, to which the recruiter replied quickly that I should do whatever felt most comfortable in.) I chose to translate into my two strongest foreign languages, which I feel extremely comfortable writing and translating in. Since this was a Monday and the test was timed, I had to quickly inform my grad school professors that I would be unable to come to class that day. I would have really appreciated doing the test on the weekend. However, when a job interview comes in you have to be flexible. The test was 3 parts: 1. Write a business letter in English in response to a complaint and then translate said message. 2. Translate a short advertisement for a game on Steam called Peggle. 3. What is your opinion on Steam and how can it be improved? Since the second element was an artistic and technical translation, I spent a bit of time doing research on the game and understanding how it works before getting started translating. Completing this test and then proofreading for 2 languages was time consuming and tiring, however I was proud of my translations (that's my profession after all) and confident. Two days later I noticed they checked out my LI profile and the day after I received an email concerning a phone call to discuss opportunities at Valve. Over a week later, at their convenience, I had a phone-conference call at 4 PM with two guys. At the beginning of the interview, I could tell that they did not take me seriously as they joked the entire time and did not ask much about the specific professional and academic challenges that I have faced, perhaps because I am underestimated for being a female seriously interested in the video game industry or because I am only 26 and looking to start a career now and settle down somewhere to start my own life. I wish they would have been a bit more professional. Specifically, they only asked me one short question about my professional experience and focused mainly on overly-long problem solving questions (perhaps trying to fill their required 1 hour time requirement). Plus, the two guys interviewing me didn't sound very serious and actually hung up on me once as they were joking around. I was informed the next day that they would not be continuing with the interview process. I simply felt that an interview should not be conducted this way and I felt very hurt afterwards. This makes me feel not as positively about Valve as a company and by effect their products. The main recruiter however is excellent and responds even on the weekend with updates. I wished him well and thanked him for his time and asked him to thank my interviewers for the one hour they took out of their schedules to talk to me.

    Interview Questions

    • We are making a new controller for Steam and there will be some bugs when it first comes out, how would your respond/prepare for these extremely rare questions?   2 Answers
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  5.  

    No Role Specified Interview

    Anonymous Interview Candidate
    No Offer
    Positive Experience
    Average Interview

    Application

    I applied online. The process took 2 weeks. I interviewed at Valve Corporation.

    Interview

    I posted my resume in their career site and was hoping for any opportunities in Sales. I was contacted by their recruiting team and was asked to take an exam through email, It was just a phone interview and it lasted for an hour. Most of the questions were about online games and if I had any strategies to suggest for their sales team. I was accommodated with respect and the interviewers were very kind.

    Interview Questions

  6. Helpful (5)  

    Systems and Network Engineer Interview

    Anonymous Interview Candidate in Bellevue, WA
    No Offer
    Positive Experience
    Difficult Interview

    Application

    I applied online. The process took 5 weeks. I interviewed at Valve Corporation (Bellevue, WA) in February 2015.

    Interview

    It is a series of interviews with pairs of people, each asking something different. They want to see your technical prowess, your thought process, and how you tackle a problem while optimizing for what is best for business. The questions themselves were all technical and/or business related. The questions don't seem very challenging, but your answers need to be very strong, and that is where the difficulty lies. Most interviewers are very friendly and helpful, and they will help you stay comfortable. This is not a huge company, but they have many applicants. They have their choice of who to hire, and it is probably worse for them to turn down a possibly good employee than it is to hire on a bad one. Because of this, you need to be highly compatible or strong in many areas (personality, work culture, technical ability, business acumen), and you will need to get that across in your interviews. I'm sure they also hire rock-stars who would be core to improving their business.

    Interview Questions

    • Solve a capacity planning and architecture problem given some parameters. Forecast the income generated by the product given some additional parameters. Analyse the viability from a business perspective, and see where you should try to make improvements in order to make the product more likely to be a business success. Secondarily, be able to explain architectural design choices.   1 Answer
    • Write a program for a toy problem. Be able to explain why you are making certain choices, and be prepared to explain how something works as you work through it.   1 Answer
    • Explain some projects you have worked on, and elaborate on why you made certain choices for that project.   Answer Question
    • What projects would you work on to add value here? This is a lead in question to them probing you on specifics.   1 Answer
  7. Helpful (9)  

    Designer Interview

    Anonymous Interview Candidate
    No Offer
    Positive Experience
    Average Interview

    Application

    I applied online. The process took 6 weeks. I interviewed at Valve Corporation in January 2015.

    Interview

    Applied online, got a response about a week later that there was overlap between my skills and what they needed. Set up a phone interview with two senior designers that we had later that week. Phone interview was a simple, if a bit contentious, portfolio review. I was surprised that they not only challenged what I said (totally fine), but did so in a pretty irascible manner. They were definitely ready for me to misspeak or screw up. Regardless, I just continued to explain my work and at the end they put me on hold for a moment and told me they'd like me to come in for an in-person session. In-person session took place about a month later, mostly because of the Christmas break. Was a multi-part process with teams of two - I made it through three rounds, first two rounds were with two designers each and the third round was lunch with a lawyer and a developer. First round was another portfolio review, second round was a design working session (design a mobile app), third round was less focused. What I would do differently: First round: I spent a lot of time explaining the product I've been working on, not nearly enough time taking credit for it. I'd make sure to emphasize the scope of my role more, and to explain that I'm showing them each of these features because I was strategically responsible for them at some level. Second round: I made a genuine mistake by jumping in too quickly to sketching out ideas on the whiteboard, without asking enough questions beforehand. Who is the target audience, Why does the client want it, basic problem discovery. In retrospect, was a pretty huge oversight. Third round: This one was a little strange. lunch interviews with people who don't particularly want to be there are always less than fun. I was asked what I would change about Steam, which is actually a bit of a touchy topic it seems. I said that I'd try to simplify the profile/account management stuff, which is currently pretty labyrinthine, and I also said I'd want to get rid of the carousel on the homepage of the store. This received a lot of pushback, and I think I was able to defend my position well enough, but I wish I'd had more data at hand to back myself up. I also think I should have been more willing to use my anecdotal opinion of the carousel (that it's annoying and frustrating) as justification for changing it. I was told after the third round that they weren't going to continue with me. I was given two reasons/pieces of feedback: 1. That I didn't have the strategic/high level experience necessary (this is incorrect, and effectively an indictment of my poor, overly humble self-selling), and 2. That I should have asked more questions before jumping into the working exercise (this is totally correct). The upshot: it was an overall good experience that didn't lead to a job, but was certainly one of the more challenging interview processes I've experienced. It made me a better interviewer on both sides of the table. My advice to future candidates: I think getting a job here as a designer takes a lot of self-positioning/selling, and a bit of luck - get them on the right day or whatever. Be aware of the product you're selling (yourself as a designer) when you go in, and sell it enthusiastically. But honestly, don't go into this one thinking you'll probably get a job. They're interviewing a LOT, have a ton of candidates at hand, and they really look for any reason to turn someone down. I don't mean this in a negative way, I just mean that you can think you're holding your own pretty well (I did), and you'll suddenly get dropped for reasons that may not make total sense to you. It's great interviewing experience at the least.

    Interview Questions

    • My design working session was to design a mobile app.   1 Answer
  8. Helpful (21)  

    Software Engineer Interview

    Anonymous Interview Candidate in Bellevue, WA
    No Offer
    Negative Experience
    Easy Interview

    Application

    I applied online. I interviewed at Valve Corporation (Bellevue, WA) in September 2014.

    Interview

    I applied to 2 interesting positions on Saturday. Although having 11 years of experience, world-level achievements, and strong relevant skills, they just politely replied 'no' right away on Sunday, didn't even proposed an interview. Very weird..

  9. Helpful (17)  

    Support Engineer Interview

    Anonymous Interview Candidate
    No Offer
    Negative Experience
    Average Interview

    Application

    I applied online. The process took 3 weeks. I interviewed at Valve Corporation in September 2014.

    Interview

    I sent in my resume for consideration without applying for a specific job. They responded around three weeks later with an email about a good-fit position. They sent the following question: Thanks for applying for a position on our customer support team. We reviewed your resume and are sending a short test for you to do - please try to submit your response within 24 hours of receipt of this email. Please respond to this customer inquiry: Background: You work for Venture Movie Productions Limited. You produce a wide range of movies in various genres by different directors. In theaters now: The Making of a Metropolis: a Documentary on Meerkats (PG) SlasherDeath5000 (R) South High: Locker Wars (PG-13) Customer Message: To Whom it May Concern, Today I found out that my son Billy went to your terrible film SlasherDeath5000. My son is 12. I wouldn't have even known that he had gone if I hadn't found the movie stub in his pants pocket when doing the laundry. YOU are responsible for exposing my 12 year old to this violence. My son is an Eagle Scout. He would not have even wanted to go to this movie if you hadn't advertised it. How dare you prey on children in this way? You have tainted my child and are ruining the innocence of our kids. I demand an explanation and a detailed outline of what you are going to do to stop destroying America's children.

  10. Helpful (6)  

    There Are No Positions At Valve Interview

    Anonymous Interview Candidate in Bellevue, WA
    No Offer
    Positive Experience
    Difficult Interview

    Application

    I applied through an employee referral. The process took a week. I interviewed at Valve Corporation (Bellevue, WA) in September 2014.

    Interview

    There are 5 rounds of interviews with two or more people at a time. Two in the morning, lunch that continues the interview, and two after lunch. I made it through the first two interviews and lunch, and on the 4th round they said they were looking for someone that was more diverse in skills. The first round was technical where they present you with a problem and ask you how you would solve it. For me it was data management of a lot of very large files. We worked through scenarios and they asked why it would work or wouldn't work and any additional solutions. The second round was more abstract. They presented me with a very vague scenario and asked how I would write the story based on the information I was given. "Think of it as a video game level or as a movie scene. Tell us what happens and describe it in detail.". They were looking to see what creative ideas I would come up with and what influenced my decision. Lunch was very informal at a nice restaurant. Just talking with a couple current employees about how I would handle certain situations. Very low key. I was very nervous during the interview but it was a good experience. No job offer, but after talking with several employees I found that not many people get an offer after the first all day interview.... it takes a few tries to see how you can fit in, if at all.

    Interview Questions

    • How would you approach a colleague when you feel like their idea won't be successful?   Answer Question
  11. Helpful (3)  

    No Offer
    Neutral Experience

    Application

    I applied online. The process took 3 days. I interviewed at Valve Corporation in September 2014.

    Interview

    Received an email from one of Valve on-site recruiters who said that despite the fact that Valve looks for Customer Support Representatives who speak Russian, English and other languages, they don't hire outside of the US.

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