Recruiting testers part 2

When i started to look at the best way to interview software testers the first thing i did was to do a google search…lots of trawling through hits later i had a good idea what other people had done.

I took some of the good stuff i found and mixed in some of the things that i thought were good based on my own experience of being interviewed. I also wanted to try and be as subjective as possible, so i  came up with this plan for each interview:

Part one, general questions:

Try to put them at ease with some general questions on there background and hobbies, lots of interviews completely miss the “what you do in your spare time” bit, probably because lots of CV edited by agents take that bit out. I think you can tell quite a lot about a person if you take the time to find out what there interests outside of work are. Also at this point i would ask them what they knew about the company, this shows if they have been engaged enough to do some research.  Don’t forget to ask them if they would like a glass of water, they are going to be doing the bulk of the talking so lets help them to not get a dry mouth!

Part two, questions about previous experience :

Questions relating to there previous experience as detailed in there CV. This is were i start to introduce a score for each of the answers given (Remember that bit about being as subjective as possible). This is where it can get interesting if your interviewing someone with limited testing experience because you will have to look harder to find experience that would be relevant to the role your employing for. I tend to look for evidence of these type of things in there work experience (Computer skills should be a given):

  • Planning
  • Attention to detail
  • Team skills
  • Analitical reasoning

Some examples of questions i have used in the past in this section of the interview are:

When the CV mentioned web testing:

  • What are the main issues you found when testing web based applications?

When the CV mentioned use of a bug tracking system:

  • What system have you been using for bug tracking and test management? What do you think the pros and cons are of those systems?

When the CV mentioned using SQL:

  • How did you use SQL in your testing?, what did you gain from using it?

You probably get the general idea by now. I then score the answers out of ten.

Part 3, scenario based questions:

Part 3 of the interview focuses on scenario based questions, these are to try to help you understand how the candidate will respond to different scenarios that play out in the working environment. Here are some examples i have used:

  • Talk about how you would work with a developer to fix a bug you had raised.
  • Talk how you would flag up issues to management that were impacting the testing phase of a project.
  • Talk about how you used automation to test a new feature.

Again I then score the answers out of ten.

Part 4, the test:

Part 4 of the interview process was a test on an example website. With the help of a friendly dev Op’s a test site was written that took the form of a very simple eCommerce site that had some product pages and a basket page and a section of a checkout. The tasks included in this test were:

  1. Candidate had 20 minutes going through the site trying to find any issues that were there. There were around 20 issues written into the site ranging from incorrect maths in the checkout to incorrect currency symbols and dead links.
  2. The candidate was then asked to note down each issue they found and give it a severity rating.
  3. Once the test was over they were asked them to write up one of the issues that they found into what they thought would be a good bug report format.

I should stress that the object of this test was not to find ALL the bugs but rather to see if they picked up on all the most serious issues. These were the ones that would cause a company the most problems if they were in the website code when it went live.

Part 5, any questions.

The final part of the interview would be when i ask if the candidate has any questions they they would like answered. If they have some good questions then this is a good sign that again shows that they have done some prep and are generally interested in the role on offer. After i had answered any questions the candidate was taken to  the departments office area and shown the development board and given a run through on the development process we are using.

After this we terminate the interview and they are taken to reception. I then like to give them an indication of how long they will have to wait for the result of the interview, i think its polite to do this so they know they won’t be left hanging on for an answer.

The 3rd and final post detailing the recruitment of testers will talk a little about how you should go about reviewing the candidates performance during the interview process and finally offering the job to the candidate that was the strongest.


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