My Top 6 Tester Qualities during a Job Interview

I’ve been teaching a QA course lately.  When working with want-to-be test engineers one of their questions is always “What are Managers looking for during a Job Interview?”

Have a seat--interrogation room

I don’t know what All QA Managers are looking for, but after interviewing hundreds of candidates over the last 14 years this is what I look for when evaluating whether I want hire someone or not.

1. Self Confidence – I want my testers to be sure of what they are doing, and to show this to their peers both in their Testing Team as well as to their Development peers.  A tester with low self confidence will run into situations where he won’t take risks or make “the tough calls” just because he is afraid of being wrong.

2. Common Sense – As testers many times we need to make decisions based on incomplete pieces of information, the only way to succeed in this task is by having a good level of intelligence and common sense.  I don’t think every tester needs to be a genius (it won’t hurt either), but the candidate needs to at least display the ability to think and reach conclusions even when he doesn’t have all the data in his hands by extrapolating and “tying loose ends” in order to draw for himself a clearer and bigger picture.

3. Communication Skills – This is a must for most jobs, the ability to explain and communicate an idea to someone who is not in your immediate working context.  This is even more imperative of a tester who needs to explain non-trivial things like bugs, tests, and even potential risks related to the technical tasks they perform to people such as Developers, Managers, Product Owners or even Customers that will need to make important decisions based on these explanations.

4. Knowledge (basic or advanced) of Testing – If you want to be a tester make sure to understand what testing is about (at least in theory!!!).  Today there is no excuse for not having some idea about the principles of testing since everything (and I mean everything!) can be found on the Internet by doing a quick Google search.   If you want to go even further you can gain practical experience by joining some of the crowdsourcing testing communities such as UTest or WeekendTesters.

5. Some Knowledge of the Company they are Interviewing for – It may sound strange but I always want to know the person in front of me is curious enough to learn (even a little) about the company they are interviewing for.  In my mind anyone who comes to a company without knowing their basic business is not interested enough in order to get the job at hand.

6. TruthfulnessThis last one is maybe the most important one for me, I need to trust the person in front of me.  If during the interview I reach the conclusion he is making things up and lying just to please me then I won’t be able to trust him in the future.
I will always be willing to compromise on some of the other attributes as long as I feel the person in front of me will be able to fill the gaps by investing his time and efforts, but if someone is not truthful then I won’t be able to trust him or his work.

Lastly, and to make sure I paint the whole picture, I always give extra-points for technical knowledge in the field in question, and this may even be a requisite if I am looking for an expert test engineer in a specific field such as load, security, etc.; but most of the times this is one of the attributes with less weight in my interviews.

So this is MY list, if someone has other stuff to add feel free to add bellow, it may even help me to improve my interviews and the way I select the people I work with in my projects!

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7 Responses to My Top 6 Tester Qualities during a Job Interview

  1. Devon Smith April 26, 2010 at 11:58 am #

    What I look for is someone who likes to think in a QA-mindest way. Someone who questions things, is thoughtful and detail oriented, analytical and engaged in what they are doing. Showing interest in the field and the company are so important!

    See my full list here:
    http://ladybug010.wordpress.com/2010/01/18/qa-j

  2. joelmonte April 26, 2010 at 11:24 pm #

    Hey Devon,
    Good point!
    I also agree that during my interview a big part of my efforts go into figuring out the type of QA Mindset of the person in front of me.

    About your blog article, I really liked the mention of the questions (specially the one for the Steps for an Omelet 🙂

    Thanks!

    -joel

  3. joelmonte April 27, 2010 at 5:24 am #

    Hey Devon,
    Good point!
    I also agree that during my interview a big part of my efforts go into figuring out the type of QA Mindset of the person in front of me.

    About your blog article, I really liked the mention of the questions (specially the one for the Steps for an Omelet 🙂

    Thanks!

    -joel

  4. Omri Lapidot December 11, 2010 at 10:15 am #

    Here are the qualities I'm looking for when interviewing a QA candidate
    -Thoroughness. You can't be a good tester if you're not thorough.
    -“Criminal instinct” is the attitude of looking at things and instinctively looking for the weak point, thinking what can go wrong.
    -Good social skills are especially important for a QA engineer. I can imagine a good developer who has bad social skills but QA engineers need to interact with other people in the organization on a daily basis and you can't do that efficiently if you're too annoying or too shy, for example.

  5. Raajivhansome March 10, 2011 at 5:13 am #

    its good

  6. Vered Sheinman April 20, 2011 at 1:34 pm #

    Hi Joel,
    I liked your post. I would also add following skills:
    – ability to understand complex things and processes, not to give up when tracing the logics
    – ability to summarize complex things in a simple manner
    – a “status” person, to see not only the tests, but what message (status) those tests deliver
    – a person who dares, not afraid to make mistakes
    Vered Sheinman

  7. joelmonte April 27, 2011 at 5:58 am #

    Nice points Vered, and I think they are also useful!
    Thanks.

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