Being on top of your game when interviewing for your next QA job is to your benefit, so it’s a good idea to take the time to practice making a great first impression.
The secret to acing your next QA interview is mastering the “tell me about yourself” section. Most QA interviews start off with the interviewer asking you to tell them a little about yourself, so if you can put together a script ahead of time with the ideal answers you want to communicate, it shows initiative, demonstrates value right off the top, and can place you in a different category from the other candidates. Your ability to be well prepared, fluid, and self-assured can be the difference between an interview that doesn’t turn out so well and a great new job.
Here are three important points to hit when you’re telling the interviewer about yourself, as well as some sample scripts to modify for your own history, so that you can go into your next QA job interview with complete confidence.
In this section, talk about how you started out in QA and slowly transition into the last QA project you worked on. This is a great opportunity to proactively talk about your previous roles, any responsibilities you had, and any testing deliverables you contributed. And for newbies, QA training counts. Here’s an example of how to discuss your job history during an interview.
“I completed my undergraduate at ABC University in 1993 with a major in computer science. Recently I worked as a contractor with ABC Company as a software test engineer. Before that I worked at XYZ Inc. as a QA analyst. Prior to that I worked at 123 Corporation as a senior QA analyst. My strengths are my ability to be flexible and detail-oriented, excellent organizational skills, and strong verbal and written communication skills.
“During my tenure at ABC Company, I decided to delve a little further into the software development process. I’ve worked in the airline, computer, and technology industries, which has allowed me to diversify my knowledge in software development and testing. I’ve been exposed to many different applications and been involved in several types of software development lifecycles, such as agile, waterfall, V-model, RAD model, and the iterative model.
“On one of my recent projects, we used the iterative approach and implemented RUP, the Rational Unified Process. I was involved throughout the inception, elaboration, construction, and transition phases of the project.”
The Big Picture
In this section, it’s important to relay the fact that you’re more than simply a tester—you understand the rest of the software development lifecycle, too. Here’s an example of how you can discuss your skills as they relate to the entire SDLC.
“I’ve participated in several full software development lifecycle projects, from the initiation through the implementation phases, and I’ve had the opportunity to enforce quite a few processes. On my most recent project, I implemented a sign-off process so there’s an audit trail for changes in requirement, changes in code, or even changes in the infrastructure, which promotes accountability.
“On another project, I enforced the use of software configuration management, which entails version control and change management. So, whenever there were changes in requirements, test plans, test cases, testing scope, or code, I made sure integrity was maintained in our testing. I also enforced the use of coding standards by developers and implemented naming conventions, and I’ve used the tools ClearCase and VSS.
“I designed and implemented templates to ensure uniformity, such as templates for test cases, change requests, defect management, and even a template for root cause analysis to investigate defects that make it to end-users during user acceptance or beta testing. I also introduced entry and exit criteria for every phase in the development lifecycle.
“One of the challenges I faced as a QA lead analyst was deciding when to begin and end testing during that phase of the development lifecycle. Over my years of experience, I’ve come to the conclusion that we should begin testing when the environment is ready, when the code is ready, and when I’ve gotten everyone to sign off, and we should end testing after we’ve tested everything in scope, we’ve executed every test case I’ve created at least once, defects have been found, severity levels have been set, we logged defects in the appropriate tracking database, defects have been resolved, regression testing has been done, and I’ve gotten everyone to sign off.
“Another challenge I’ve faced as a tester is how to assess risk in regards to testing. The best way I’ve found to overcome this challenge is figuring out the likelihood of the risk, based on the complexity of the software product and the frequency of use, and the potential impact of the risk. I think these processes are imperative so that we have a repeatable, demonstrable process in place that could do well on any audit.
“I’m very familiar with industry development and testing methodologies and guidelines. I’ve worked with CMM; TQM; ISO standards 9000, 9001, and 9002; and Six Sigma. My goals for any organization I’ve worked in are establishing well-defined standards and procedures, and helping them get to the next CMM level.”
Technical Skills and Tools
Finally, it’s important to mention the technical skills you have that pertain to the job you’re applying for. Showing your familiarity with those tools and technologies communicates that you will be a good match for the position. Here’s an example of how to discuss your skills and knowledge.
“I’ve performed many different types of testing, including black box, white box, and front- and back-end testing, and manual testing using tools such as HP Quality Center, which I also use as a test management tool and for defect management.
“I’ve done automated and performance testing using tools such as Selenium WebDriver to automate web applications, HP UFT/QTP, Appium, and JMeter. I’ve also done integration testing using the MQSeries and enterprise application integration, as well as regression testing, system testing, user acceptance testing, system integration testing, and functional testing on various projects.
“I’ve worked with several different applications and technologies, such as Oracle, SQL Server, and testing for the web and mobile, and on different platforms such as Unix, Sun Solaris, Linux, and Windows. I’m also efficient at writing Unix shell scripts, SQL queries, and using Toad to connect to the database.”
Practice Makes Perfect
The “tell me about yourself” script I provided here covers three main aspects: your QA experience; your understanding of the software development lifecycle, methodologies, and QA processes; and your technical skills and familiarity with tools. This is a good framework to leverage when creating your own script.
The whole idea behind this script approach is to demonstrate value in the eyes of the hiring manager or recruiter and to establish yourself as someone credible. You may find that if you do this well, the interviewer won’t even have many more questions to ask, and this is a good thing—with enough information, you can proactively answer most of what they want to know.
As you prepare for your next interview, take the time to create a script of your own. Memorize it, record yourself saying it, and practice it in front of a mirror or with a friend until you’re comfortable enough saying it without even thinking. I’ve used this script in one-on-one interviews and in interviews with an entire QA team, and it works the same. Confidence and preparation make a great impression in job interviews, and as the saying goes, practice makes perfect.
Leave your comments below, and please feel free to share your experiences or other strategies you may have used when interviewing for QA positions.