Monthly Archives: November 2013

Technical QA Interviews

Giving interviews require a great deal of planning, skill, and preparation. After all, your goal is to assess a candidate whom you will be potentially committing to and investing a sizable salary on for months and even years, in the time span of 30-60 minutes. It is definitely, in my opinion, not a trivial undertaking. I have, in my experience learned, and also stumbled upon, a few tips and strategies though, that should allow you to make the most out of your limited time with your candidate to be able to successfully assess whether or not he/she is “the one”.


You should always ensure that you are giving the candidate the Presentation you desire. The candidate should be impressed with your professionalism, and level of knowledge and experience. The candidate should even be somewhat intimidated. Not to the point where this becomes a power trip, but to the point where the candidate feels pressured enough to EXCEL.

Somewhat on a tangent, this is referred to (at least by me) as a paradigm shift. Honestly, in NONE of my interviews that I’ve been the interviewee have I 100% matched the qualifications desired. I learned Python about 3 years ago mostly because the new job I started required it. Previous to that, I didn’t really know Python. And this didn’t matter because I was able to show I had a penchant for the logic required to produce quality automation architecture/scripts. And there was some pressure, as I was required to deliver results within a timeline. Yet, the pressure was what drove me to subconsciously learn the language quicker, and in such a way to suit my needs to finish the frameworks.

Basically, what I’m saying is that the candidate needs to feel that he, if he successfully completes the interview process, will be joining a worthy, reputable, and well-established company/organization. When he is in the interview process, he/she feels motivated and “in the zone” enough to show his TRUE COLORS under pressure. Will he stutter? Will he think out loud and come up with a good workaround? Will he utilize his current knowledge, and although it may not DIRECTLY present a solution, be creative and nimble-minded enough to think out a great solution? Presentation of yourself (and the company you are representing) is paramount.

With that in mind, what makes a good Presentation by the interviewer?


  • Be on time to your interview.
  • Greet the interviewer heartily with a solid handshake.
  • Appear as if you are listening. TURN OFF YOUR CELL PHONE
  • Do NOT get distracted by people walking by, by meetings, by agenda that is work related. The interviewee is your SOLE FOCUS.
  • Do not chew gum, nor drink/eat to the point where this interview appears casual. This should be serious business. You are investing a lot of money into the candidate you choose.

Skip the typical questions

  • Go into the interview knowing what was asked by other interviewers before you. “Tell me a little bit about yourself” wastes about 4-5 minutes of precious interviewing time.
  • Spend some time to review the candidate’s resume. The interview is NOT THE TIME to do this. Do not go job-by-job asking your candidate for a summary of what his/her roles were.
  • (I actually will sometimes spend the entire interview focusing on one job/title and expounding even on one role solely).
  • Feel free to jot down questions before the interview so you are prepared.


Somewhat inline and very similar to Presentation, is Preparation. Go into the interview prepared, and you will seem Professional and really on top of things.

  • Review the candidate’s resume.
  • Ensure that you know the title that the candidate is applying for and any caveats of the job that could be used as fodder for good detailed questions.
  • Eliminate any non-relevant job experience from your “questioning” and focus on any and all job experience that could be an asset to the current position being applied for.
  • DO ask your other interviewees their thoughts (and even their opinions) before going into your interview.
  • One of my favorite strategies is called the “hand-off”. Sometimes I will not have enough time to fully focus on a certain area of the candidate’s experience/knowledge, so I will tell my next interviewer “I wasn’t able to really get a feel of her jQuery knowledge, but know she’s good in javascript. Perhaps you could dig into her jQuery experience…”
  •  Don’t be afraid to research the company he/she used to work for. That could dig up some great revealing questions as well. I once interviewed a candidate who worked for a company that just recently implemented a solid social media single-sign-on platform. However, further research into the company and into his end date revealed that he had no part in that as he left the company before that was even implemented.

Induce Participation

The white board and/or a computer is your greatest method in seeing how viable his/her experience is.


  • “Show me what a round-robin is in Java”
  • “Show me some pseudo-code that addresses the following issue in this class”
  • “Give me some test cases for the following page assuming that there were no other business requirements hashed out…”

More later…