Jobs don’t grow on trees. Especially dream jobs. Especially jobs at EB Games.
For many, getting a job at EB Games is a way to translate a hobby into a career, to do work in an industry that they already love. But getting a job at EB Games isn’t easy.
EB Games is 20 years old this year and has steadily grown to become one of Australia’s largest video game retailers. I probably don’t have to tell you that, you know exactly who they are and you’ve been in the stores – the crazy sales setups, the preowned games, the game guarantees, the ridiculous sock pre-orders and that guy that does the ‘EB Voice’ booming over the loudspeakers.
TRADE N SAVE AT EB GAMES.
If you’re looking to get a job at EB Games, where do you even start? Do you need any sort of experience? Do you need to have an encyclopaedic knowledge of every single video game released since 1974?
I talked to current and ex-employees about how they got their jobs, the process of applying, what their interviews were like and what they thought was important when trying to land a job at EB Games.
How To Apply
EB Games don’t have a dedicated landing page for available positions on their website and no forms for expressions of interest online. Clicking on the ‘Careers at EB Games’ link on their website’s homepage redirects you to SEEK which lists the positions that are currently open. When I checked, only four were available in the country and none of those positions were for entry-level sales positions.
Those sales positions at EB Games are in high demand and generally, they’re filled before they ever make it as far as the website. That leaves only one way to get the attention of a store manager. You have to physically walk into the store with your resume in hand, full of confidence and ready to have a chat.
Charles, who used to manage a store in South Australia in the primordial stages of EB Games reminisces.
“When I had to employ staff there was a single page checklist of questions to tick off. I did so diligently.”
While the checklist was important to him, there were also times that the checklist didn’t matter. It was about gut-feel.
“When a portly bloke with bright blue hair, an infectious laugh and a massive chain wallet came waltzing in looking for work, I stopped, chatted, and took him out for a coffee. Screw your checklist. This bloke was an absolute gem.”
This is a story that appears in most people’s Journey To EB. They enter a store with resumes in hand and show interest in working there. They get to know the people that manage the store. They leave a good impression with them and get a call a little further down the line to come in and chat further.
“The way we’ve hired people ... was pretty much, if they came in with a resume, presented themselves well, seem to have good product knowledge and seem to care about helping customers they’ll probably get a job,” says current employee Penelope.
Penelope thinks that the hiring process is all about how you present yourself when you do visit a store to drop off a resume. Instead of just dropping it off and running, stick around and have a chat, tell the store a little about yourself and why you’re applying. It was a theme that also persisted with those higher up the chain.
“I was involved with hiring some staff when I was Assistant Manager. There didn't seem to be any rules whatsoever, my manager and I decided we wanted some hot girls and pretty much picked the pretty ones that could talk too,” says Yani, who worked with the company from 2007-2011.
As there’s no hard and fast rules for who to hire, it’s generally left at the discretion of the senior members of the store you’re applying for.
What happens once you’re scheduled for an interview? Again, the process seems to be different, depending on which store you’ve applied at and the time of year. In general, it seems that group interviews are conducted around the Christmas periods, when extra staff are needed.
The group interviews were often derided as strange or bizarre, strange social experiments that are confined to board rooms filled with game-adoring teens.
In 2007, I walked into my local EB dressed in a t-shirt and shorts and harbouring really unclean, terrible, ‘emo’ hair. Somehow, I was invited to a group interview that took place in a rented space in Adelaide’s CBD. I showed up in a white shirt and thick black tie. My hair was respectable, straightened and washed. About 20 applicants were in the group with me, including a couple of friends of mine who had also applied at a similar time.
The process itself didn’t involve a lot of talk about games or gaming. Instead, it was about how you functioned in a team, how well you worked together and your skills as a salesperson. At one stage, the managers split us into teams, gave us LEGO and told us to build what was on the box without using instructions.
This is an activity that still occurs today.
“One activity we did in small groups was building small Lego vehicles without instructions” describes Spencer who took part in the process in 2013, “it was designed to see how we work in groups and our personality traits that may mesh well in particular stores”
Renly, who participated in a group interview at ZING, before being employed by EB in 2016, said the process was very similar for him.
“My interview was every weird. It was a group interview and they basically asked me who my favourite comic book character was, made us split up into groups and make little buildings out of straws and blu-tack, and asked us what point in time we would travel to, and why.”
He also offered up this tip: “Speak loudly and clearly, and never let there be a silence. If you're always talking when there would usually be an awkward silence, then they'll be more likely to pick you because you can keep up a conversation.”
For one-on-one interviews, some stores even ask you to do a little homework before you get to the interview.
“Before the interview they asked me to research a game being released this year and do a sales pitch about it during the interview, says Lillian, who was unsuccessful at the interview stage. However, this practice didn’t seem common.
“The process itself was really low key, just a coffee shop and a chat. Wasn't really work related or professional, just banter and video game talk,” explains Yani.
Kane, an ex-employee that was with the company over a decade ago says there was nothing out of the ordinary for him.
“Pretty standard interview. Mainly business related. Things like showing examples of selling.”
A word of advice for those headed in for a solo interview – if you want to get a job at EB Games then you really want to learn how to sell a pen.
It’s a story that pops up in a couple of employee’s memories.
“The thing that sticks out the most is the Area Manager handing me his pen and asking me to sell it to him. I was at a complete loss, freshly 18 and with no idea,” explains Yani.
Charles remembers the same routine being used on him when he applied for his job.
“A 10 minute chat with his regional manager the next day, including the age old ridiculous "sell me this pen" routine, and it was done.”
It’s important to remember that the process is store-dependent. Thus, the best thing you can do is get to know the people that you may be working with and establish a solid rapport with them before ever handing your resume in.
Your passions help, but they don’t make you a successful employee. In fact, if you remove the idea that you are selling video games from the equation then, of course, this job looks exactly the same as any other retail job – be that selling clothes or jewellery or those fancy Dyson hairdryers from the future.
Prior sales experience is obviously going to work to your benefit, and being able to sell games is important, but it’s even more important to just be able to sell. Sell anything. The pen out of an Area Manager’s shirt, the shirt itself, a paper clip, a Game Guarantee, extra peripherals. And you want to get the idea across in an interview that you not only sell well, but are adept at ensuring the customer gets what they need.
“The most important thing is customer service and being able to talk to people” says Penelope.
Why Would You Want To Work At EB Games?
“When you do something you love, you never work a day in your life.”
That’s the cliché. That’s the saying plastered on cubicle walls in office buildings. That’s the ideal.
People want to work in a job that aligns with the things they like, of course. Ever since EB Games first became a monolith of Australian video game retail, the stories have remained the same – people want to be employed there because it’s one of the places where hobbies and work are able to coalesce.
“I hated my other job and I’m a nerd and every nerd wanted to work at EB,” explained Kane.
Lillian took on the same mentality.
“EB Games has been known as THE place to work as I was growing up and looking for jobs, everyone I've ever known into games has always wanted to work there.
As we’ve reported previously, there are some horror stories. But it seems the prevailing view, as a youth, is that EB Games is the job you really want to get.
Renly furthered this idea by suggesting that EB Games is an easier way to get into the video game industry, as opposed to something like streaming or creating video content.
“I think every kid still wants to work there, and while I think Twitch and Youtube are the more appetising options, a retail job like EB Games is a lot easier to get into, even if it is really hard to get a job at EB, you still have a better shot at that than making it on Youtube or Twitch.”
It was ten years ago that I first began working at EB Games. It’s not hard to admit that in those early teen years, when you’re first looking for a job, it is the dream job. Especially for those of us that grew up before digital distribution, Twitch and YouTube. Ten years ago, the closest you could get to having video games in your job description was landing a sales assistant role at EB Games. The day that I got fired, I was heartbroken.
But things are changing.
The way we think about work is changing, but even more so the way we think about video games and work, together, is changing. There’s considerable money to be made in content creation on YouTube and content creators have inspired a whole generation of children to go out and buy webcams and scream at horror games. There’s money to be made in Twitch too, where hundreds of thousands of viewers flock to watch people play through video games from the comfort of their own living room.
There are jobs in the video game industry that didn’t exist five years ago.
And they are legitimate jobs. They just don’t have the same sort of rigidity and consistency that something like a retail job does. Those that make a living on Twitch and YouTube spend hours and hours interacting with their communities and creating content. And I’ve not even taken into consideration all the hours and hours of work that goes into developing games.
If you want a job working with video games, it’s never going to be easy. You have to work hard.