Software Testing Interviews: Two sides of the coin

Interviews are a great avenue to connect job seekers to employers. Whatever the form a job interview takes; panel, online, or phone interview; its an opportunity for the employer to select a suitable candidate for a job role from a pool of shortlisted candidates. During which each candidate attempts to pitch or showcase himself as that suitable candidate.

This year, I have been opportune to sit at both sides of the table a couple of times; that is, both as the job-seeker and the recruiter. It has been eye-opening as I have been able to see things from these two perspectives. This, in fact, has helped me in identifying mistakes so one can be better prepared.

Tips when preparing for an interview 

  • I can do bad all by myself’ is a no-no: It’s not uncommon to see candidates putting information on their resume they cannot defend. Such information is not limited to skills and tools but also includes experience. One should expect that many of the questions that will be asked during the interview will be based on the data you provide. Hence, it is only advisable to enlist experiences you can extensively explain what your role was and how relevant such experience is to the current job you are seeking to get. 
  • Doing the right research. Almost everyone preparing for an interview knows to acquaint himself with information about the company and her products, as well as the job requirements. Sadly, some candidates fail to exercise due diligence. The candidate should be asking himself these questions: What experience do I have that can be of benefit to the organisation and will be music to the ears of the recruiters? What are the relevant achievements that I need to lay emphasis on while introducing myself? What will distinguish me from other candidates? For instance, If the organisation is one that builds apps to provide Fintech solution, then talk about any similar experience you have. Is it a startup or small team, then lay emphasis on how proactive you are and how you have worked in a similar environment.
  • Knowing a bit of everything: By knowing a bit of everything, this does not include knowing why your current manager prefers to wear white T-shirts on Mondays. During the interview, it is likely for you to be asked questions not directly involved in test execution. These questions may pertain to other aspects of the software development cycle which have a direct impact on your test entry criteria and your daily tasks at your current or former employment. These questions may revolve around aspects such as requirement gathering, the application maintenance (post-deployment activities) or the integration between your app and other third-party applications. Your answers to such questions depict what stage in the development cycle your QA activities start and how involved you are as a person to the overall end to end activities. Hence, it is advisable to prepare accordingly, not just for the sake of the interview but because a QA professional ought to be involved from the beginning to the very end of the software development cycle.

Tips when recruiting a QA Professional

1.The right profile: A number of times, I have been contacted by teams to assist in recruiting QA engineers. Many a time they are not sure of the exact profile their team needs. What they know for sure is that the team urgently needs someone to champion the quality of the software churned out by their team. This is reflected in the inaccuracy of the job description and requirements posted for these jobs. This lack of clarity causes teams to come up with job descriptions that are inaccurate and are a mismatch with their needs. 

  • What are your needs? What void are you trying to fill?
  • What are your reasons for this recruitment?

For example, a small distributed team of 1 Product Owner, 1 Backend Engineer and 1 UI designer on a short-term project are advised to go with an experienced QA rather than an inexperienced.  This is because of the urgent and peculiar need of the team to deliver results.

There is no one-way to this as every team is unique in its structure, in its software solution, technology stack, work culture etc. Hence, it’s best to evaluate the team’s present situation and needs while looking out for the ‘ideal candidate’.

2. Evaluating the runway: Having an enabling environment for your candidate of choice is equally as important as choosing the right candidate. Do you have what it takes to make the candidate with such expertise flourish and perform his tasks seamlessly?  Deciding to go for an expert- the best of the best? Then you should have functional tools, adequate budget, supporting teams and structure to sufficiently equip such person to do his work to the fullest capacity. Going for a newbie instead? Then a structured team that gives room for mentorship, training and growth should be available and efficient. No frustrated employee can perform optimally.

3. The right balance: While seeking the ideal candidate, it pays to know that your best candidate might not necessarily be the one who answers all your questions perfectly or the one with the highest number of years of experience. Certain job skills are non-negotiable and should be given attention to during the recruitment process. When in search of one with 0-3 years of experience, the general expectation of such candidate should include: 

  • Basic knowledge of software testing concepts, SDLC. 
  • Communication and collaboration skills.
  • Curiosity.
  • User-oriented perspective.

While recruiting for a more experienced candidate, the following should be considered:

  • Experience working in an Agile environment. 
  • Knowledge and experience with STLC
  • Analytical skills. 
  • Problem-solving skills
  • Technical skills
  • Coding skills (especially for automation).
  • Ability to work under minimal supervision

In conclusion, technical hiring managers need to broaden their horizon while seeking the ideal candidate. We QA Engineers need to up our game to be the definition of this desired candidate especially as the new year unfolds with new job opportunities.

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Oluwatomi Familoni is a Software Quality Assurance Engineer at ZOLA Electric

6 thoughts on “Software Testing Interviews: Two sides of the coin

  1. — Amazing writeup.

    It’s high time{

    // Recruiters should take note of these

    recruiters stop asking irrelevant questions like
    – “where do you see yourself in the next 5years” (seriously it’s none of there business),
    – “how much do you want us to pay you” (as if they don’t have a payment budget before), e.t.c
    // QA professionals should take note of these

    QA professionals should
    – broaden up their skills and work on been vast with at least a programming language for automation (writing code is not scary);
    – be able to sell their skills adequately from the CV to during their interviews (interviewers are not witch and wizards “they can’t read your mind”);

    /**It’s also a great time, both the recruiters and QA professionals get the understanding that in the Tech space, it’s about your skills, not your years of experience.**/


    — Once again, well-done Tomi

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