Why am I not getting selected? | How to crack a Software Testing Interview

Yeah! A thought that crosses every tester’s mind who is searching for a better QA opportunity. Why am I not getting selected? Simple! Because you were not the best fit. Best fit in terms of technology, experience, salary, attitude, skills, behavior, etc. Only QA knowledge is not enough to land you a job. Yes, companies look for the ‘Best Fit’ among the available candidates. Some look for tech-savvy candidates, other focus more on the learning attitude. Every company has its own set of guidelines – what we call as company culture. With this article, I try to elaborate on some of the perspectives around Software Testing interview. It has helped me, and I hope this helps fellow testers as well in their quest for the next dream job.

Recently I got the below query on LinkedIn,

“I am a great fan of Software Testing Studio website and refer it every time. I am currently working as a Manual Tester and looking for an environment where I could get a chance to move in automation as well. I have given several interviews also but I am rejected with the feedback that you have less confidence. Another thing that I want to know from you is that when can I say that my interview went well. Like if one answers all questions then only the interview is successful or other factors are also considered. Hope you will help us with your take on it.”

There is no doubt that you need a very good knowledge about Software Testing and somewhat Automation testing. But if you think only QA knowledge is enough to crack the Software Testing Interview then you might be wrong or you will have to struggle more to get the job or crack the interview.

Last year 2017 I gave around 10-15 Software Testing interview. Some focused on Agile, others on recent technologies. Company profiles varied from Multi-nationals to Start-ups. Some asked about programming, others about management. Some demanded Linux experience, others product & domain knowledge. Some were for individual contributor (IC) role, others looking for a QA Lead/Manager. Some were database centric, others looking for experience into web testing. But some things were common across all – Software Testing basics, whether you know the QA process, Team handling, Automation Testing (Yeah! It’s a must now) and why am I looking for a change. Having been interviewed so many times in a year, slowly I got a better understanding of the overall process. Every interview taught me something – technical, team handling, process, domain, management, behavioral, and what not. In this article I try to summarize my learning about how to crack a Software Testing Interview OR why you are not selected in an interview along with few tips that could help you to improve before attending the next Software Testing interview.

Resume & Interview Shortlisting

“First impression is the Last impression.”

I don’t believe this (about it being the last), but first impression is indeed very important. A good resume is the first step in your quest for an interview. Every resume is ‘glanced’ at for just a few minutes that make or break the opportunity. A well-crafted resume is your gateway to showcase the skill sets and get that much-awaited call. Make sure that your resume is very well formatted & stick to specific points. Interviews are just a way to analyse/judge the skills that are claimed by a candidate in his/her resume or CV. A resume should describe the best about your skills, your expertise, your strengths etc. Be genuine & perfect in what you mention in the resume. All the questions interviewer asks will be based on what you are specifying in it. So do not mention the skills you have not worked on, just for the sake of decorating the CV with multiple skills. You should be able to answer each & every skill set mentioned in your resume.

“Thank you for reaching out. | Good Morning. | Have a Good day. | It was nice talking to you. | Thank You!”

Yeah! Though it seems unimportant but these basic etiquette gives you an edge (though a smaller one). Greeting or thanking someone is the least you can do. I always make sure that my reply to any query/mail starts with “Thanks for reaching out. | Thanks for the message. | Thank You”. Nothing great but it helps to develop the much-needed manners as you grow up the career ladder. It helps to create an aura of positivity & liveliness.

Understand the Software Testing Interview Process

Recruitment in itself is a complex activity. Starting from the referrals till a candidate on-boards, everything should be well defined within an organization. As a candidate, it is important that you understand the process or rather the phases you need to be good at or prepare yourself for. Below is the basic structure of the phases involved,

  • Written Test: To filter out the first set of candidates. It saves time on both the ends.
  • 1-2-3 Technical Rounds: Depending upon the company & the role, there might be multiple rounds of technical interviews involved. From QA perspective – technical is nothing but gauging a candidate’s testing & programming knowledge & experience.
  • Process-Oriented: Software Development has different methodologies to be followed. Software testing as a process has different phases to ensure quality. A good software tester should be aware of the methodologies & the processes involved (including documentation).
  • Manager Round: Congratulations! As you clear the technical rounds, next is discussion with the Manager. It’s a mix of technical + process + management concepts. Additionally how enthusiastic are you about the current technology & role.
  • HR Round: Mostly to gauge the behavioral aspects. One of the major component of HR discussions is the Salary negotiations. Yes, Money Talks 😛 do some research beforehand and be reasonable with your expected CTC. I like saying ‘I don’t have any figure in mind. We can discuss once interviews are done. It should be a win-win so that I am motivated to give my 120%’ 😉

One thing that is common across all the rounds of interview is – situational acumen & a positive behavior. In every round there will be questions based on some real-world situations and how will you tackle it and some uncomfortable questions about weekends work, extended hours, relocation, travelling and team hiccups to gauge your flexibility.

Understand your current Project, completely

Almost all interviewers will ask you about the current project you are working on and your roles & responsibilities. Yeah! You think you know your project. But during the interview there are multiple occasions when you think that ‘Why I didn’t think of it’ 🙁 For example – Which database you are using? How do you connect to it? What are the front-end technologies used? What’s the architecture? Is it client-server or a web-based application? How about Load tests? Browser compatibility? Similar products in the market? What’s the end-to-end flow for your application? You are half-succeeded if you are able to explain your current project clearly, i.e. all components & the flow. Once that is done, it comes the time for your roles & responsibilities. Be clear & concise covering all important aspects of Software testing starting from inception, estimations, planning, design, execution, automation, reporting, team handling, etc. It gives a fair idea to the interviewer that Yes, you know things that you are working on!

Experience Matters the most

Familiarity & know-how about a concept can never beat hands-on experience. How much of college study are you applying in your project? Nah! Don’t think about it – very less. Similarly reading & knowing about a concept is just the first step. Experience matters. And it matters a lot. There will be lot of questions regarding your personal experience of a process, a tool or a situation. That is how you gauge the hands-on experience. Nothing more on this…you are well experienced 😉

If not Experienced, Practice the Technical aspects

Many a times there are queries like if I never get a chance, then how am I supposed to get hands-on experience? Yeah! That’s a tough situation to be in. I have been there. The only thing you can do about it is ‘Practice’ and ‘Practice a lot’. It is only with practice that you gain confidence in a certain aspect of testing. Don’t just read about it – start practicing with the open-source tools available in the market, practice coding & algorithms. Theory gives you knowledge, Practice gives you the experience!

Story-telling is an Art

“Stories function as a tool to pass on knowledge in a social context.”

Storytelling is a means for sharing and interpreting experiences, universal in that they can bridge divides. Recently one of the Software Testing blogger raised a question at LinkedIn – Is Storytelling the new Mantra to get a Job? Yes, it is! Just that Story has to be a real one 😉 Story about your own experiences. Learning is most effective when it takes place in social environments that provide authentic social cues about how knowledge is to be applied. Story-telling is an art by itself, which should be rewarded aptly. Why do you think Apple as a company look for great storytellers when interviewing? (based on Google search)

Do not try to explain about ideal cases. While answering any question think if you have a personal experience to narrate. Interviewers are interested in a practical approach, rather than ideal cases. Try to relate you testing knowledge with real time experience stories so that the interviewer could realize that you are really interested in testing and don’t just have the theoretical knowledge but really understand the testing process.

Software Testing Interview | Know the Basics

“Theory is important too.”

Not all interview is practical. Theory is important too. Many freshers and working testing professionals have might not worked on various testing domains, tools & technologies. But knowing more than what you have worked on will help you better answering the different questions from the interviewer. There have been situations where a candidate is not able to answer the ‘basic of Software Testing basics’. Avoid that!

Move out of the Well, into the Ocean

“Knowing more is harmless”

We all tend to stick to our project and company until we hit that wall, of being stagnant. Instead move out of the well, i.e. learn about what’s happening in the QA landscape. Automation scope is increasing, tester’s role is slowly transitioning into an SDET, new tools are being introduced, industry is demanding API testers, etc. Be aware of the recent trends in Software Testing – and not just aware, try to imbibe as much knowledge as you can. As they say – ‘Knowing more is harmless’ 😉 and it will definitely help you to give your thoughts on the questions asked by interviewer. Your curiosity to learn new things you have never done before will help you in this case. So broaden your thinking area, be curious in every work and every query you face in your daily work routine.

Be Confident OR Lively | Not Over-confident

The way you present in interviews is very important. The right attitude is very important. Many managers can judge it easily if you have really worked on projects or it’s just a fake experience. The confidence level with which you answer makes a strong impression. Show your enthusiasm and confidence during the interview but since you will be required to work in a team it is extremely important to be humble and pleasant to work with. This is one of the qualities recruiters would definitely want to see in a candidate. Being confident and enthusiastic!

Think Loudly

  • Interviewer: How will you test this Coca-Cola Can?
  • Me: (thinking)
  • Interviewer: Tell me what you are thinking.
  • Me: (click. He wants to know the different approaches I can take. Start thinking loudly, speak).

This was during one of the old interview days. Hope you got the point? Don’t just think. Think loudly. There is no need to hurry up. If the scenario is new to you, take few seconds to think about it and then answer. Just that keep speaking what are you thinking, or what all different approaches you can think of. For any question, if you are not sure about the correct answer, just make an attempt. Do not just give up. The approaches need not be correct, but it will give an idea to the interviewer about your line of thinking OR give him/her an idea that you are really thinking 😉 Interviewers always like people who can come up with multiple solutions to a single problem. It tells them about your way of tackling things.

Stay Optimistic & with Positive Attitude

  • Colleague: I have observed one thing about you.
  • Me: What?
  • Colleague: That you are always positive. Even in a negative situation, you just think about the positive or the best things that can happen in the worst situation.
  • Me: Thank You! It took some time to inculcate that habit 😉

How well you fare in a Software Testing interview depends on how you present yourself. And how you present yourself is a day-to-day habit, not just that you prepare for the interview. It took me some years to develop a positive attitude – ‘neglecting everything negative that came my way’ and only think about the positive happenings. Being optimistic & positive will eventually show up in your overall personality. And that’s what interviewers like!

Make sure that you show your enthusiasm for the position you are being interviewed for and that you are really interested in working here. If you stay dull, the employer will take it as lack of interest and eliminate you for being a misfit.  While candidates manage to answer most questions thrown at them, what is important is how passionate they sound about their work, the details, the skills acquired and the experience.

Avoid Bitching

  • Interviewer: Why are you looking for a change?
  • Candidate: My Boss is a jerk.
  • Interviewer: Thank You!

A big deal-breaker is talking negatively about a previous organization, boss or colleagues. The job seeker’s complaints may be entirely warranted, but an interview is not the place to air criticisms with prospective employers. It is regarded as unprofessional and sets off an alarm bell in the mind of the next employer, prompting them to wonder whether the candidate may have difficulty with workplace relationships. Do not talk anything negative about any person or a colleague. If you do so, then it shows that you are not mature enough. It reflects badly on your attitude. It’s a Selfie in disguise 😛 It is important that when you speak about or refer to a person in various contexts, pleasant or unpleasant, you are able to narrate your actions or present them in the relevant context without sounding negative.

Communication is always one of the Criteria

“Excellent Communication Skills – a must”

This is often a mandatory criteria to be hired. If not explicitly written, it is implicitly understood. One of the most important qualities recruiters look for in candidates is their ability to communicate clearly. This means – how good is the candidate at explaining and understanding things. You are required to interact regularly with your team and people from client’s team. So, it is extremely important that you know the common language well – which in most cases is English.

You should know about the Company

“Research the company beforehand.”

It is extremely important to research the company, gain some know how about its business and the technologies it works on. It helps in answering one of the important question – ‘Why do you want to join us?’. You can relate your examples with the current company’s products & technology. On the other hand, going unprepared demonstrates your lack of interest in the position.

Stay Updated | Keep Learning

Interviews are meant to scrutinize your skills & experience. It is a great way to kick-off the learning. Interviews let you know where you stand in the skills market & what’s lacking. Learn from every Software Testing interview that you face. I have a habit of maintaining notes in my smartphone, after every interview. Nothing detailed, but just some bullets about what was asked so that I can learn it by the next interview. Additionally, stay updated about the current Software Testing trends and emerging technologies. Technologies are changing day by day so you should be aware of the latest technologies. This shows that you take initiative and are a continuous learner. It helps to set the context right and build overall confidence.

Software Testing Interview | You will nail it, One Day!

“Failure is the first step to success.”

Competition is fierce. Interviews are a way to find the best fit. It’s not like you are worthless, but were not the best fit. With every Software Testing interview you face, you are getting stronger – learning something on each rejection. And how to become a best fit? ‘Continuous Learning’. Make sure you are learning all the concepts with every interview. Make sure you are practicing the current tools in demand. Make sure you are aware about the emerging trends. Make sure you keep your mind open – to everything that’s happening in the technology world – be it your project, company or the industry. And one fine day, you will surely nail it. Till then, keep preparing for the best opportunity!

What’s your experience about Software Testing interview? If you want to share some do’s and don’ts please comment below so that other testers can benefit from your experience. Oh by the way – “All The Best” for your next interview. Happy Testing!



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