Interview Tips for QA Engineers

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As always, QA engineers are in demand across industries. Entry-level technologists can expect salaries of $59,000 on average; after several years of experience, that pay can increase to $80,000 and even beyond.

No matter how white-hot the segment, though, you still need to ace the interviews to get the job. Here are things that can make that happen:

Hard Skills

Understanding the job description and role ahead of time is crucial for success. Seems like an obvious statement, no? Except many QA engineering jobs need very specific skills, whether SDET or Automation or Manual Testing or White Box.

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John Dewar, lead engineering recruiter for Messina Group, believes that candidates should clearly convey their skill set and experience as it pertains to their specific industry. “Having the ability to discuss QA process knowledge with specific examples of where and when they applied their knowledge of something like APQP is critical,” he said, “as is having a readiness to talk about specific software tools and the processes used.”

Robert Ardell, managing partner at Kore1, has noted an uptick for SDET (Software Development Engineer in Test) roles. “They are more of a hybrid QA and developer, versus just an automation QA person or a Manual QA person,” he said. “The more cross-training and development experience the candidate has, the more desirable they will be.”

Soft Skills

“Key soft skills are all about flexibility,” noted Dewer, “especially in regard to working within the established system.” A good QA Engineer can gently nudge his colleagues in the direction of improvement with regard to both process and the quality of the final product.

A big part of soft skills is also the ability to work well with others. Before arriving for the interview, make sure you spend a lot of time researching and absorbing as much information as possible about the company and its strategic goals.

How to Connect

The trick is to open up as much as possible. “During the interview, candidates should be more forthcoming on their experience,” Dewer advised. “For example, when asked about specific software, talk about the most recent time [you used it], what was discovered and how it affected the process. The response to each question posed should be a three sentence arc, not a terse single sentence.”

But excessive vigor is also a big no-no. “Coming on as too aggressive, especially before you even start the position, with the ‘my way of doing QA is the right way of doing QA’ attitude, is often off-putting,” Dewer added. “The key is to prove you can make improvements and generate results first; then you can be aggressive in pushing an agenda for change rather than the other way around. Understanding the difference is very important.”

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