An Interviewer’s Complete Guide to hire the best QA Engineers

An Interviewer’s Complete Guide to hire the best QA Engineers

In this fast-paced market, it’s very hard to find the right talent. Even the expectations from the employers are pretty high in some cases. But here, various components play a role. Hiring managers should have a clear view of the open roles. The job description should clearly explain the mandatory/preferable skills. 

Recently I had an experience, and one of the candidates during the interview said to me that I am a good interviewer. She also added that she had bitter experiences before. I was pondering over the same statement for a few days, and I realized that few of us are not doing justice to the role of “Interviewer”. Being an interviewer is hard, I agree. Keep in mind that this is an acquired skill.

Based on my personal experience over the years, I thought of sharing a few tips for our community. I always believe the interview should be an interesting conversation between the candidate and the interview panel. We should try to understand more about the candidate, their skillset (what sort of tool and technologies they worked on), strengths, communication and listening skills, etc. 

The expectations for the QA role have grown to a greater level. Few organizations genuinely look for the right candidates with the right level of expectation. But the other few organizations expect the Testers to do an all-rounder job in the project. It’s fine unless we get the remuneration equivalent to it, LoL. 

Before the interview:

Similar to candidates, the interviewer should be well prepared for every interview.

1. Read through the resume before meeting the candidate

Scan the resume properly and make a note of the required and optional skills. It’s again the responsibility of the candidate to add genuine details to the resume. Try to understand the project/domain knowledge of the candidate. Think about the ways their previous experience is going to bring value to the current role you are looking for. If there are questions regarding their career journey make sure to clarify them during the interview. Please don’t assume. 

2. Prepare the questions/activities (tailored)

Nowadays Testers are very versatile. So try to understand their experience with different flavors of Testing. Based on their knowledge of tools/technology, try to pose your questions. 

3. Be there on time

It’s always good to start the interviews a bit early to avoid some technical or unexpected difficulties. Even if you join early, and if the candidate is also joining then initiate a casual conversation to make them comfortable. Bad things happen, it’s unavoidable, sometimes we cannot make it on time. In that case, apologize for being late, and try to engage in the current conversation. 

4. Make yourself available (no distractions)

As an interviewer, you should be all ears. Sometimes, this helps you to build further questions to understand the technical knowledge of the candidate. So, turn on the DND mode wherever necessary.

5. If it’s a virtual interview make sure that “Camera” is on

In this digital era, with the help of every available technology, the world has gotten smaller. So for virtual interviews – along with the candidates, interviewers should also have their cameras on. Without this, the candidate would feel like they are talking to pictures. 

During the Interview:

Remember that you are the face of your organization. The person who applied for this role will treat you as a representative of your organization.

1. Meet and Greet:

Once you kick off the interview officially, first greet them. Introduce yourself, a bit about your team, the current projects you are working on and you can add about the Testing experts available in your team/organization. Also, explain the process of the interview.

For instance, the introduction part, the Technical theory questions, a few exercises/Hands-on, Q&A (if the candidate has any questions), and wrap-off. By explaining this, the candidate will have better clarity and be prepared. If there’s another interviewer as well, ask them to give a brief introduction. Please don’t have too many people as watchers during the interview. 

If you sense that the candidate is a bit edgy, make sure to have a casual conversation to calm them down. Go easy on them.

2. Ask them to introduce

Once your introduction and process explanations are over, ask the candidate to give a brief introduction about their current role and project. Mostly their resume states everything, so this part should be kept short and crisp. My tip here would be to ask them to rate their top three skill sets. This helps us to proceed further with the technical evaluation. 

3. Categorize the questions

Instead of simply shooting the questions one by one, try to categorize them. For instance – Section 1: Testing Fundamentals, Section 2: Testing Artifacts, Section 3: Automation Skills, Section 4: Tools/Technologies, Section 5: Problem-solving skills, Section 6: Programming Language knowledge, and so on. Tweak these categories based on your organization’s needs. This helps to capture the detailed feedback as well.

4. Perception of asking questions:

If you have a clear objective on the expectation for this role, try to understand if the candidate is having experience with the same tool/technology. Say, for instance, if you are looking for a candidate with AWS experience, check if they have similar cloud platform experience.

They might have worked with Azure, if the cloud basics are strong they could scale up in AWS in weeks. Now, your questions should be more focused on the cloud basics, cloud-based testing skills, etc. 

My pro tip: Don’t expect the candidate to have hands-on every time with your tool requirement. Software Testers can learn and adapt any tool faster than anyone. 

If you are hiring for Test lead or similar leadership roles, try to analyze the leadership skills through behavioral and situation-based questions. 

5. Focus on Automation and other special skill sets:

If you are expecting Selenium expertise, and the candidate doesn’t have that don’t judge too quickly. Get to understand more about their knowledge of tools or which they are using for Automation. Who knows, we might switch from Selenium to another tool later.

Or we might prefer any low code/no-code automation tool. In this situation, try to understand the Automation knowledge of the candidate. They should be aware of that when we should do Test Automation, and when not. Check if they are good with Automation concepts, jargon, etc. 

6. Cover the skills stated in the resume but not required for the current role:

For instance, if the candidate mentioned that Performance Testing is also one of the strong skill sets, but you are not performing any performance tests right now in your project. In this case, try to validate their knowledge.

Get to know the tools they used. In the future, your applications might require performance testing. This is why we need to come prepared for the interview. If you are not experienced in performance testing, you can ask other interviewers to check that specific skill. That’s an advantage of having multiple interviewers. 

7. Ensuring the Confidential information is not leaked:

Sharing information related to clients could be harmful, so better try to avoid such details. Also, any organization-related information shouldn’t be shared while conversing with the candidate. 

8. Be empathetic:

Kindness doesn’t cost a thing. We are not sure what the candidate is going through. So try to be patient. 

9. Proper closure:

Once done with all the questions, check if the candidate is having any questions for you. Set the expectations for the next steps and time frames. Don’t forget to thank the candidate for their time. 

Next steps?

Once the interview is done, it’s time to provide feedback. Think about various factors before deciding on them. If there are multiple interviewers along with you in the interview panel, try reaching them and discuss the candidate’s performance. Few instances, if the interviewers are located across different time zones or teams, then every interviewer can send individual feedback about the candidate.

Now, based on the answers, assess the degree to which each candidate possesses and/or demonstrates meeting the expectations, and categorize them accordingly.

  • Exceeds the requirement
  • Meets the requirement
  • Does not meet the requirement

Bonus tips:

1. For any Software Tester, Testing basics are mandatory. Try to refresh their memory and ask questions related to it

2. Tweak the questions based on their years of experience in Software Testing

3. Ask them to explain the interesting bug they found

4. Focus on the Analytical skills: Ask them how they would test a lift, airplane, water bottle, etc.

5. Check if the candidate is willing or already contributed to any open source communities


6. Try to ask more scenario-based questions, instead of theories. Because this helps to make a wise decision

7. Develop a form that fits all QA role requirements and follow it across teams for sharing feedback

8. While testing the coding skills, try to provide some real problem statements, instead of asking them to make a Fibonacci series

9. For tool based interviews, ask them to install the tool before the interview and try giving simple exercises

10. Don’t forget to note down the additional skills of the candidates in the feedback form

11. Always look out for versatile testers

12. Check the aspirations of the candidate (If they want to learn Automation, or they are looking for more management or lead-related roles, etc.)

13. Check if they have completed any certifications. Or if they have anything in the pipeline. This will also help us to understand how they are planning to shape their career

Final words:

Even if the right candidate lands up with the wrong interviewer there is a chance of mishap. So it’s the interviewer’s responsibility to find out the best in the candidate. Later, you can decide if they fit into your current openings. 

Remember that the Software Testers can learn any tool/technology based on their previous experience. Look out for a person who is eagle-eyed and curious like a child. So you need to find out if this candidate is smart enough to scale and grow along with you 🙂


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