Quality assurance (QA) and manual testers may take on a variety of tasks, from reviewing and analyzing system specifications, to executing test cases and collaborating with QA engineers on test plans. If you’re applying for a job as a manual tester or QA specialist, in other words, you need to prepare for a manual tester interview process that could plunge into a variety of skills and experiences.
At the broadest level, QA and manual testers are tasked with identifying problems and running debugging programs to fix issues. The ultimate goal: ensuring that programs satisfy all specifications and requirements. That means manual testers must exhibit an impartial attitude toward testing and projects.
According to Burning Glass, which collects and analyzes millions of blog postings from across the country, the prospects for QA testers as a whole are good: Projected growth for the profession over the next 10 years is 9.3 percent, and the current time-to-fill for open positions is 39 days, hinting at a strong level of demand.
Before you head into your manual tester interview, here are the skills that pop up most often in QA tester job postings (according to Burning Glass); make sure that you’re sufficiently knowledgeable about these, and that you can tell truthful stories that show off your “soft skills” (such as teamwork and collaboration) in action:
Dice Insights spoke with Nir Tzur, vice president of engineering at SolarWinds, who has more than 15 years of experience in various senior R&D management roles. Part of his responsibilities include interviewing higher-level candidates on the engineering team, including test engineers who code automatic tests and developers who are involved in QA processes.
What are some key ways that manual testers can prepare for an interview?
As Tzur explained, there are three key factors to being a successful tester: collaboration, persistence and out-of-the-box thinking.
“To prepare for an interview, try to find past experience to share that shows how you have collaborated with developers for the overall good of your product,” he said. “Show how your persistency and ability to repeat the same tests indefinitely saved aggravation from customers.”
It is extremely important to be able to show how you have analyzed a problem to create tests for unorthodox scenarios. During a manual tester interview, this helps demonstrate that your creative thinking processes have led to concrete results.
What questions are typically asked during a manual tester interview?
Tzur pointed out that the interview is meant to evaluate the candidate’s technical abilities and their soft skills. Successful candidates will need to demonstrate both, as they’ll often end up interacting with many stakeholders, often across multiple teams.
“On the technical side, you will be asked to analyze a technical problem to show your line of thought and critical thinking,” he said. “On the soft skills side, you will be asked to share past experience that shows collaboration.”
Specifically, Tzur highlighted two questions that all manual tester candidates are likely to be asked:
- “How would you test an email client?”
- “Can you share an experience where you have repeatedly found quality issues in the same area?”
What are some of the challenges faced in this position currently?
“The responsibility of being the ‘gatekeeper,’ validating the quality of a feature before releasing to customers, is the heaviest burden,” Tzur said. “When things don’t work well, you will be the first to answer: ‘Why haven’t you found this issue before its release?’”
A manual tester’s key success factor is finding bugs for developers. That means collaboration is critical; in the end, you’re all working towards a common goal of providing customers with good service. Expect that, during a manual tester interview, you’ll also be asked about challenges or problems that arose during your previous positions, and how you successfully tackled them.
What are some of the most important questions interviewees can ask their potential employer?
Tzur explained that it’s important for candidates to inquire about the work atmosphere, and whether it’s the type of place that is fostering collaboration. Alternatively, it might be a more siloed environment.
“You should also be trying to find out if there is already a process in place for analyzing and learning from customer issues,” he said.
During a manual tester interview, a candidate can show interest by asking about the company’s struggle areas and how the company is trying to address them. “Candidates can also ask about the skills the company is searching for to help with that process,” Tzur pointed out.
What are the most important technical skill sets to know, and what are the critical non-technical skills?
“Prior knowledge with testing tools and any coding languages will definitely help, but the specific skills required will vary with every hiring company, so candidates should always refer to the job description as a good starting point,” Tzur explained.
Manual testers must also have the ability to look at a system, app, or service from a customer’s point of view, understanding how they’d use it to solve their day-to-day problems. That can help identify potential areas of vulnerability to test.
“Be able to think outside the box and come up with new ways to break functionality,” he said. “Look for ways to improve processes. Teamwork is definitely also crucial for being successful in this position.”