Saturday, May 7, 2016

How to nail testing job interview

Dan Ashby has recently published a brilliant mind map which he uses for interviewing software testers. Unfortunately, his full talk requires quite an expensive subscription and I wasn't able to watch it. This gave me however an idea to post some original job interview tips, which I believe may strongly supplement typical stuff (like not showing up too early/late, maintaining eye contact and not acting weird). You can find a nice & short etiquette guide here

As usual a word of caution: don't treat those points as universal and sacred truths. Every situation is different and may require custom preparation. Have in mind the cultural difference between countries too. 

Part I - Research

1. Personal brand on Google - it still amazes me how little awareness some people have regarding their presence on the Web. Have in mind that your name will most likely be Googled before an interview, and the first impression may be formed even before an interview. Don't post drunk or half-naked photos on publicly available social media profiles. Keep professional profile on LinkedIn up-to-date and check your name regularly in Google. You can easily change the result by doing some work once. It's not like it requires continuous attention. Great ROI here.

2. Workplace - You should know a lot about the company you apply to. In Google era it's pretty simple and ignoring these points means you don't really care (or you're sloppy which is even worse). For example, before the Ocado interview, I found an article about robotics. It's now pushed down in results be a newer article so I can't give you the exact link. Focus on something interesting, don't try to memorize the CEO name.

3. Workplace culture & values - I was wondering if it should be separated from point 2, but in my opinion, it requires some special attention. Best companies require quick learners (see my Learning Pathways post) and ambitious candidates. Make sure you know the recruitment criteria before. Sometimes it's as simple as asking your recruiter. Try to reach someone who works in the company you're trying to join and ask him/her too.

Part II - Knowledge

1. Present your skills with confidence - Cristiano Ronaldo has recently been interviewed by UEFA and he confidently said that he already secured placed in football history. Even though you may not like it, don't be falsely modest. If you know you're good show it. Be careful though with 'expert' word in your CV. We tend to overestimate our skills. Everyone thinks that they're above average. Daniel Kahneman's book Thinking, Fast and Slow may help you properly estimate your knowledge.

2. Be honest with your flaws - No one is perfect. Simple as that. If you don't know the answer to a question admit that and try to figure out an answer. Remember that working with people who honestly pick up their tasks is much easier. Requirements for a job position are usually inflated, so you don't have to meet them in 100%. Never lie - that's probably the worst thing you can do on a job interview.

3. Be aware that things you don't know you don't know exist - Terrible linguistic construct. Watching this video and checking the image below may be helpful here.

Most people focus on things they know they know (that's probably why we tend to overestimate our knowledge). Don't be like everyone else and focus on other quadrants. Experiment, read, learn. Don't be afraid to show that approach to job interviews.

Good luck :)


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    1. Hi Dreami Tom,

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  2. I wonder what Micheal Bolton would respond to your comments :-) Regarding 3rd point I agree that in agile teams tester may and should make a step ahead. There was a great article "How to Make your Bugs Lonely: Tips on Bug Isolation" (cannot find working link now) where author was listing a number of situations where tester is better suited for isolating a root cause, e.g., when he has the bug at hand and it is really hard to reproduce it later.

    1. Maciej seems like you commented wrong post :)

      There was some suspicion, pointed out in one of the comment that I had taken those statements out of some context, and his real opinions are just like mine.

      I'm not sure though, if that's the case I wonder why wasn't it stated in obvious way.

      Have a nice weekend,