Sunday, February 27, 2011

How to be more successful in software testing interviews?

Hope that you liked my previous post, How to write a resume that is selected? If you are really interested in a position and they have short-listed your resume, the next step is to get selected in the interview :). Here is how to increase your chances of success in interviews.
A couple of thumb rules first:
1. For each interview you attend,
  • Make the effort to understand (I mean internalize, not just read) the job description.
  • Gather more information about the job, the project and the organization.
  • Anticipate questions and prepare excellent answers ahead of the interview.
2. Interview more :)
You should reach the interview venue well in time, go over your notes (see the 1st thumb rule) and relax before the interview starts.


Now is the time to use your preparation, thinking skills and communication skills. Every question you are asked is an opportunity for you to demonstrate your suitability for the position. When you answer a question, do not blurt out the first thing that comes to your mind. Understand the question and frame a very good reply in your mind before speaking. But don't take too long to respond; a pause of few seconds is okay. Provide specific details from your own experience. Aim to surprise the interviewer positively. Here are some examples:

Question. What tests can you design for a common object, say an office chair?
 An excellent response would highlight the test design approach as well as really good test ideas. For example, one could say that I would analyze the documented requirements, designs, contemporary objects, standards and use my own ingenuity to design the tests. Some test ideas would be:
1. Does the chair accommodate the weight of a large person for extended hours and continuous movement? Does the chair allow 360 degree movement, height/ back/ neck/ armrest adjustments? Is the chair comfortable? Ergonomic?
2. Is the chair good to see and feel? Does the color match the office decor? Does it require maintenance/ cleaning infrequently?
3. On being used daily, how long can it stay in perfect condition? What are the steps to install and adjust the chair? and so on.
Question. Can you describe a bug that you discovered?
 A good response would indicate the process used to find the bug and some details of the bug itself. The chosen bug should be a high severity bug (e.g. one impacting financial calculations, one affecting system availability to a large number of users), not caught by the pre-existing test suite and potentially disastrous if released to the customers.

This is the time when you have to judge the success your interview.
If you do not receive outright acceptance, it is possible that there is an objection. You need tact to get this from your interviewer. Possible ways to know the objection are:
1. Ask for the next steps and timelines - If there is an objection, you may get a vague response e.g. "We will get back to you".
2. Summarize each part of the job description and highlight how suitable you are with respect to each part. Note the reaction of the interviewer to each part keenly.
3. If required, be direct and ask for the objection.
 It may not be possible to remove the objection due to say salary/ position fitment, regulatory requirement (e.g. security clearance), customer requirement or specific instructions from top management. However if you truly feel that the objection can be removed, talk about it professionally. Hollow promises will not move a professional interviewer. Give examples from your experience when you faced a similar challenge and how you solved it. State your plan how you would remove the objection quickly.
If there is no objection and you are accepted, good luck with the new offer and congratulations.