How to nail your Software Testing interview

Clearly, the ability to test is important when going for a testing role, but what else is important? And perhaps more importantly, how can you demonstrate it during the recruitment process so that you absolutely nail your Software Testing interview?

Now, most people love a good mnemonic, and all people love good testers. Here I’m going to combine the two and talk to you about the CLIP mnemonic, and how that can help you nail your software testing interview! I’ve hired a lot of testers over the past decade and having been involved in over 400 interviews, there are clearly some things that good testers demonstrate.

I’ve also had the privilege of working with some amazing testers over my time in the tech industry, they know who they are, so I won’t name them here, but they’ve all exhibited similar attributes.

I looked at what they all had in common, and some things jumped out at me, and as such I’ve put them down here, along with how you as a QA/Tester can hopefully demonstrate this to nail your software testing interview.

💬💬 Communication 

An interview is a great opportunity to demonstrate your communication skills as a tester

Being able to communicate is a key skill for most jobs, but even more so as a tester. The ability to tailor your communication style to the audience, being able to influence through your communication when raising a bug, or when trying to find out more information helps separate the great testers from the good testers. Now this comes in the form of presentations, written communication, non verbal communication and many more – ultimately, there are many types of communication, good testers can communicate across a variety of formats.

How to nail “communication” in your software testing interview?

You can demonstrate this throughout. Some things to think about are:

  • Even before your interview, make your CV showcase your achievements, talk about the impact you have and the business outcomes that your achievements had. The more senior you are, then the more I’d expect you to have a further reaching business impact.
  • Be clear and concise in your communication throughout, be calm and speak slowly and try to adopt proven techniques for answering certain questions (ie. STAR technique when answering behavioural questions)
  • Try and articulate technical problems in a way that anyone could understand, the ability to break something technical down into digestible format is a great skill to demonstrate.
  • Take time to think about your answer before answering it, it shows you have a methodical approach, and you take your time before jumping in. It will also allow you to think of the best possible answer for the question(s) asked.

👩‍🏫👨‍🏫 Learning

Books are a great source for learning. Find out the books that have helped me here.

 #EveryDayIsASchoolDay I have found myself saying that a lot, and I’ve found the people I work with acknowledging this and actually taking it upon themselves to become better through courses, through working with others or through whatever avenue that they learn best.

Testing is an ever changing field, I think Ferris Bueller said it best “Life moves pretty fast, if you don’t stop to look around every once in a while, you’ll miss it”, and if you replace the words look around with learn, it’s totally relevant. 

It’s partly why I’m much more eager to find people with a GROWTH mindset, a mindset where they acknowledge they don’t know everything, but have a clear idea about how to go about learning new things.

How to nail “learning” in your software testing interview?

You can demonstrate this through a variety of ways. Some examples are:

  • Talk about what you’ve learnt and how you’ve gone about learning it. What drove you to learn it? Be clear on why you learnt X over Z, was there a business need? Was it something you were interested in? Talk about how it brought value to the team.
  • Showcase how you’ve taught others and given back to the community or your team. After learning X, did you do a lightning talk on it? Or a blog post etc?
  • Talk about any challenges you may have had in the past, and what you did to overcome them. Frame them as an opportunity as opposed to a problem (more on this in Positivity)
  • Don’t shy away from saying you don’t know something, or that whilst you don’t know, it sounds similar to something you’ve done in the past and give clear examples of how you tackled that challenge.

❓❔ Inquisitive 

Asking questions is a great way to demonstrate inquisitiveness

 As a tester, we need to be inquisitive, we need to be thinking about things in a slightly different way, and it’s this inquisitiveness that drives us to learn more about the product, learn more about processes and learn more about the people we work with (which is key when building relationships and influencing people).

How to nail “inquisitiveness” your software testing interview?

As the person going through the interview, be sure to ask questions throughout, do your research into the company and ask questions that you’re genuinely interested in. Some good examples are:

  • What’s a normal day look like for me?
  • What will the onboarding process be like?
  • What does success look like in the first few months?
  • What is the biggest challenge that is facing testing?

Whatever you ask, be sure to make notes as well, so that you can play them back later if at all needed depending on the interview process, it might be useful to get multiple peoples views on the challenges facing testing for example, to see how they compare. Remember, it’s as much about you finding out if you want to work for company X as it is for them to find out about you.

Also, when a question is asked of you, don’t be afraid to ask for clarification, or ask for some more information that can help you tailor the answers.

And now, for the killer tip, a great question to ask right off the bat, even before they even ask you questions, is “What does good look like for this role? What are the expectations?” You can then use this to tailor your answers throughout the interview and hopefully nail your interview. This shows that you want to know more, and you’re able to tailor answers based on the response to this question.

➕➕ Positivity

Be Positive – Sounds easy right? If only it was that easy!

People like to surround themselves with positive people, people who can see good things when others see bad. As a tester, part of our role is finding things out about a product that people perhaps may view in a negative light, it’s important as a tester to be able to communicate the positives of things that we find as well, and articulate it in such a way that it’s a good thing. As well as the fact that I much prefer to have conversations with people who are talking about positive things as opposed to negative things!  There’s a really good blog post here as well, from Mel Fisher, and it brought a book called The Happiness Advantage to my attention, I recommend reading both the blog and the book! It talks about how happiness feeds creativity, and happy people are less likely to be ill/sick, really interesting read!

How to nail “positivity” in your software testing interview?

A good way of demonstrating positivity is to reframe problems into challenges, talk about how you have overcome them and speak positively about past work experiences. Do all of this with a smile and you’ll make yourself more engaging and interesting as well!

What else is important?

Clearly doing all of this whilst demonstrating your testing skills is absolutely key. Depending on the recruitment process there will possibly be clear times (roleplay exercise, testing exercise) where you can showcase your amazing testing skills, whilst also highlighting the above as well!

In a future blog post, I’ll put in how to really tailor your CV to highlight the above as well. 👀👀

If you want to reach out to discuss in more detail, feel free to reach out on Twitter or LinkedIn!

3 thoughts on “How to nail your Software Testing interview

  1. carlo

    A really valuable, detailed, well written article that fully resonates with my experience (as an interviewer, of a few testers too).

    One note on the questions listed under the “being inquisitive” section: I think they are all great questions yet some of them are very popular so at times I happened to feel them being asked … as part of a script vs as driven by actual curiosity.
    I love the one specific about testing – maybe a couple more examples of this type – domain specific – would add extra points …

    Reply
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