What to include in an interview?

I very much enjoyed @robbie.falck and Chloe Starr’s article: QA Interviews and Tech Tests in 2023

I like how it provides both the interviewer’s and the candidate’s perspectives. It includes the following questions.

  1. Should you do a first round interview before a tech test?
  2. Should the tech test revolve around a real world scenario?
  3. Should the candidates be allowed to do the tech test at home, in their own time?
  4. Should the tech test include ad-hoc whiteboard challenges, done in person?
  5. Should the tech test involve any Exploratory testing?
  6. Should the candidate be given the questions they are going to be asked, before the interview?
  7. Should you include a values / culture interview as part of the process?
  8. Should candidates be allowed to use ChatGPT to help with their tech test?

Have a read of the article. What are your thoughts on those questions?


Not only should you take the opportunity to speak with the candidate before issuing them with a tech test, you should consider if they have prior art in their portfolio that means you can skip the tech test all together.

There is a fine line here, should it be based around a plausible, real world scenario? Sure, that isn’t a bad option. But be weary of two pit falls I’ve seen that have put candidates off:

  1. Task that blatantly is, or looks like, you’re just trying to get some free work from the candidates.
  2. Using your production App or Website, you risk the test being out of date very easily.

I also would say a fictitious but plausible scenario, that you can re-use and refine over time is perfectly reasonable.

I’m no longer applying for roles that are not remote, although in the past enjoyed technical tests in a panel discussion or whiteboard. But I’m me.

You should strongly consider having more than one option, to give yourself the best chance of reaching the best candidates. Consider allowing candidates to choose one, from multiple of:

  • Take home test
  • Pairing exercise
  • Panel discussion on technical topics
  • Using public portfolios of work as proof of technical experience
  • Prepared presentation on technical topic
  • Live “whiteboard” type test

Why? Because candidates from different backgrounds, with different neuro-divergences or specific access needs may walk away from your process rather than explain for the 10th time this week what help they need and why your process suckas and disadvantages them.

ah-hoc, no this adds more stress to a stressful situation. As one option in a selection of possible activities, or with agreement of the candidate? yep, can be very powerful and engaging and gives some candidates a great opportunity to shine.

Yes. If I expect my Software Development Engineers to engage with Exploratory Testing, and I do, why wouldn’t I expect this from Testing specialists?

I know there are arguments for fixed question interviews, to avoid bias and make scoring between multiple candidates easier. But I wouldn’t want to lose the freedom to tailor an interview to a candidate, build on their previous answers and pick things from their CV/Application/Online presence.

I don’t want a rehearsed answer, but I’d be willing to go half way and provide some standard, fixed questions, with the caveat of sharing my expectation that I will have follow up and tailored questions on top.

I think there is, and should be, an expectation to be open and honest about the company and team culture the candidate will be joining. I also think it’s very important to get the team the candidate would be joining involved in the process.

Also, I would be looking for culture add, not culture fit. I don’t need another Dave, I have a great Dave. I’m not looking for a candidate to fit in, or stand out, but rather to understand what they would bring and how that might work in the team.

If they did, I would want them to add value on top, and I would expect them to call it out. I wouldn’t want to find out later the majority of their test was somehow copy n paste from ChatGPT.

This is why I try and focus technical tests on approche and thinking work, not on say code style. I want the candidate to give it ago, and then apply critical thinking, what could be done better? Would this enhancement bring enough value to be worth the time to implement?

Bottom line, it’s probably easier for the candidate if they didn’t use ChatGPT, unless I don’t find out.

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