Interview ideas

(Nichole) #1


I’m about to interview candidates for a test analyst position, a new role created in the company I’m currently working for.

I’m only in the company a short period as well, but would like some ideas on good questions to ask/considering for the internal candidates.

I have the following
What interest you in testing
How do you research or still up to date on the field

Any other?

(Kim) #2

Currently I am looking for my next contract/perm with a company and have been on a few interviews.

What I am finding is the interview process here in Australia is:

  1. a quick phone 15 minute interview very high level explanation based on my resume - ie what tools I use/techniques/platforms

  2. face 2 face is all about the culture fit they want to know more about me as a person and would my personality fit with the team

  3. technical test usually at home but I have performed it at the office under direct supervision (I was a bundle of nerves and didn’t really perform as I normally would due to both developers sitting either side writing notes)

  4. meet the team

I like your questions you already have, may I suggest something? I had a quick phone call from a test team lead who asked me fundamental basic questions it was insulting, like Is regression and re-test the same kind of testing. The entire 15 minutes was like that and I personally chose not to progress with this company. My resume & LinkedIn profile clearly demonstrated my years of experience and if I didn’t understand those fundamentals then I could never have performed my role as a test analyst.

Good luck on finding your next awesome tester :slight_smile:

(Kim) #3

Just had another thought…
Ask the tester about their hobbies, for example I love to bake and yes I follow the recipe but I also like to improve it along the way. I gain satisfaction from achieving a cake that looks inviting to eat but that tastes good too. I welcome feedback from my family who eat it… too dry/would be better with XYZ etc.
That scenario tells the interviewer a lot about me:
• I can follow a process but I look for ways to improve it
• I demonstrate imagination when I add my own signature to the cake design
• I welcome feedback and look at it as a way to improve
• Can work alone and with a team - baking is alone work but without your friends or family eating it with you it’s just plain boring.
Hope this helps K

(Sam) #4

Are you sitting in a chair? Can you walk me through the testing you did before sitting in it? If our company started making chairs what would be a high quality product? How would you test for them?

With this question, look for critical thinking skills and someone being able to talk through their thinking process. You can also assess people’s level of testing understanding. e.g. do they go straight to test cases they could execute? How do they ask questions to get more context? This is a little bit of a “thinking out of the box” type of question.

You can easily replace chair to be anything else easily available, e.g. pen/water bottle/hand bag.

(Chris) #5

Just a heads up: Some candidates, usually of a pragmatic bent, hate being asked this sort of “how would you test an X” question. I’ve noticed this in hiring, forum discussions, chats, and the fact that I hate being asked that sort of question. I find that the response I now give tends to be “why would I do that?” or “why would you hire me for that?” which I would also respect as an answer, but newer and more nervous candidates don’t tend to have the confidence to come out with. Sometimes I will explain back to the interviewer what I think they want out of their question and then I explain my methodology and understanding of context instead, as well as give them a list of answers just so that I’m not seen to be dodging the question. Also “how would you test a pen” has been around for a long time now, so seasoned interviewees have their answer ready. Many people spit out creative answers at a rate of knots (“Throw it into the sea! Jab it in my eye!”) because they are actually answering “how might you test a pen” rather than “how would you go about getting yourself ready to test a prototype of a particular pen, in a context I haven’t explained to you, if you had to for some reason I haven’t thought of”, which I think is a reasonable thing for a person to do. A tester doesn’t necessarily have to know how to explain a tacit context to be good. After all I imagine the pen industry has a series of standards and legal mandates to follow - they might not even test their own pens. I don’t know the first thing about material science. There’s a lot of tacit knowledge around the testing of writing implements that might rend my other questions pointless!

I do quite like the “what would be a high quality product” question because it’s trying to find out if the candidate considers quality to be subjective and therefore sensitive to the context of the business and users, or if they believe it is intrinsic.

The trap to avoid is that the interviewer is hiding assumptions - contextual information - from the candidate. If the candidate runs with their own tacit assumptions then they have gotten the question “wrong”. Also if you’re going to ask a question with hidden context you better have that context prepared - I’ve embarrassed more than a few interviewers by asking questions they don’t have answers to in their own fantasy creation, with reasons that the question is important to establish the value of the testing, and it’s not fair to the candidate that someone refuses them work because their questions are bad and the candidate called them out on it; that’s actually what I want in a candidate.

The thing I always ask candidates to do is a practical exercise, either testing a piece of software or simulating a kick-off chat about a future piece of software, or both. These are both things a candidate will have to do in their job, and it shows (somewhat) how they’ll work after they’re hired rather than what they say they would do. The tricky thing is that some person poking software at random and well structured testing look very similar from the outside, so I also ask questions. I ask questions about why they’re doing what they’re doing, why they need an answer to the question they’re asking, and so on. A candidate having a lot of questions is pointless if the answers don’t get used.
I am sure to tell them that I don’t expect them to know everything about the software so I’m happy to answer questions. I do not tell them that there are log files or tools available to help them unless they don’t ask for them.
I also give them the answers or prod them to do more - if they’re obsessing over one type of data I ask if they’d like to try another. I want to see them at their best, and see what they can achieve, and how they go about achieving it.
I also don’t care how many problems they find, as there isn’t enough time to find everything (as well as their nervousness making them more single-minded), I care about their ability to perform test framing, perform risk analysis, ask valid questions to get applicable answers, come up with clever ideas and explain their actions. I sometimes ask what they’d do if they had more time, and this can be very useful - I occasionally get ways they might apply tools or risk lists or build catalogues from their exploration or run the software on a different platform (again, I ask why they’d do that so I know that they know why it’s valuable). Obviously this scales with seniority - I expect a veteran to be much better at explaining their testing to me.
I find it valuable for the time it takes, and I offer it for what it’s worth.

(Nichole) #6

I like the suggestions and will take them on board.
I also do not like the idea of asking a tester whats regression, or one of the ones i have been asked is “what is black box” like Kim says these questions turn me off a company.

(Heather) #7

Not sure if any of these will help or if you’ve seen them already

And a post to back up what @kinofrost said about interview processes that heavily emphasise logic puzzles:

(Nichole) #8

thanks for these, real food for thought

(John) #9

Kim’s suggestion re the use of insulting basic questions is a sore point for me too. While I can tolerate them from recruiters it’s a bit sad after an hours worth of panel interview to be asked to define terms rather than how you’d go about carrying out a task based on that term. Interviewers, even the ones I worked with never ask devs or business analysts that level of question and it appears to be a fundamental disconnect re what testers do. They’d probably ask a surgeon which end of the scalpel is the pointy-bit.

I always like to ask people what they test in their own time, the same question to devs re what projects they work on, or problems they solved for free. My bias is that those that did had a better outcome.

That and one question related to the hobbies/ interests they expressed in their presentation to see how they think, like I can judge that but it’s fun anyway; E.G., When I had a photographer I asked about how they evaluated the camera they bought, E.G., did they have requirements, how did they test that , why did they end up with what they had and what would the do to improve it.

(Andrew) #10

I really liked Dan Ashby’s ‘How I interview testers’ blog from a few years ago, still have a copy of his mindmap on my desk.

One way to consider interviews is to think about them a bit like testing, you are discovering and investigating the candidate in order to make an informed decision, often that hiring decision.

Of course interviews have that extra layer of being a two way process with the candidate interviewing you at the same time but experienced testers can still leverage from their testing to help fast track their interview skills.

You could even leverage from exploratory charters in planning out your interview in the same way as you would plan out testing sessions.