What to expect from the interview?
Preparing for an interview is always a nerve-wracking task. The QA interview can go a few different ways depending on the type of QA position you are interviewing for. You will want to pay close attention to the job posting to try to get an idea of what you need to be ready.
The interview process
The interview process can vary depending on the experience level they are looking for, but the typical process usually comes in three steps.
Step 1: The Phone Screen
The Phone Screen is usually the easiest of the three steps. HR personnel typically will make this call. This person is wanting to speak with you to make sure you say you can do certain things that are required by the job. Keep in mind that this person is usually not technical and probably may have no idea what they are asking you. Their job is to take notes based on a list of needs such as “black box testing in your past?” or “can you automate?”. The other reason they are calling is to make sure you are serious about the position and are interested enough to take the next step. The HR person will take the notes from the call and forward them onto the hiring manager.
This is your chance to ask questions that you would ask an HR person. Working hours and pay? Company culture? Benefits? Bonuses?
The length of this call usually ranges from 15 to 30 minutes.
Step 2: Speaking with the Hiring Manager
When you talk to the hiring manager it is usually done over the phone, but sometimes they may have you come in for a face to face. This call is going to be similar to the initial phone screen but your interviewer now has a working general knowledge of the technology and processes. He is probably not an expert at every little thing the team does, but he should be able to call BS if you say something off. The manager is looking for understanding and a certain level of mastery of the concepts and tools used by the team. They are also looking for a good fit for the team. Would you get along with developer Steve if you were hired?
You will have the opportunity to ask the manager some questions here. What is the team like? What tools do you use? How is performance measured?
This interview is typically an hour long.
Step 3: The Group Session
This is usually the most stressful interview. The usual lineup is a couple of people on the QA team, the QA manager, and a developer. Sometimes they may throw in a business analyst or one of the C levels. The flow of this interview can go one of two ways.
Scenario one is that you will be in a room with 3-5 employees who will take turns asking you questions. This type of interview is usually more stressful since you are five against one. The good side of this is that you will get the whole interview done in about an hour or two.
Scenario two is when you meet with 1-2 people at a time. This interview is my preferred way to go since you get to be more personal with your interviewers. The bad part of this interview is that you are going to be spending a good part of your day in interviews. Typically these last between 3-5 hours.
From time to time you may be given some homework to prove that you know how to do what you say. You may be asked to create a test plan and a bunch of test cases for a website. If you are applying for a role in automation expect to script out a few scenarios. If SQL is in the job description you could get some questions on querying.
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