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We are going to have a couple of interviews coming up soon for a position in our QA department. The position requires quite a lot of manual testing and a bit of test automation which is going to grow. And, this position is 100% remote (this fact might be critical for this question).

Aside from other activities and topics, we are going to try to pair-test with a candidate during the interview, but let's assess the situation from a different perspective.

What are the absolute interview "Don'ts" for a candidate on a manual tester's position (with potential automation in mind)? What are some of the red flags we should pay attention to and be aware of?

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    I once blogged about mistakes done by candidates: nomoretesting.com/2016/05/26/…. I might summarize it here when I find some more time. – dzieciou Sep 28 '17 at 8:56
  • @dzieciou oh, that's a nice collection of mistakes, thanks! – alecxe Sep 28 '17 at 18:04
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Oh boy! There is an interesting one.

Well apart from checking all the technical skills and blah blah, I always make sure to ask or observe two things about a candidate I am about to interview. And in my opinion someone who lacks this or are weaker in these skills, blows up his/her interview or rather, reduce their chances of getting hired.

As a tester, you should be inquisitive, and that means you have to have some questions when a particular scenario or a test question, is thrown to you.

For example, I asked someone - Here is a dialogue box, and an input field. How would you test it.

When I'm giving you these questions, there are a lot of hidden things and unknowns that as a tester, you should be asking me. If you're the " I'll perform these five/seven functional tests on them" kind, then you are showing me you're quick to jump into testing , even before understanding the context and stakeholders needs. As a tester, you need to understand these vital points because these are pretty important from a client's perspective. As a tester, you also have to understand customers and their needs before launching a flurry of tests.

People who reply with “Can I ask some questions about it first? For instance, what is it for, who will be using it, is this a new feature or an existing one? Knowing this helps me better understand what needs to be tested and how.” are certainly at a better thought process and would be having better chance of getting hired.

Secondly, I have seen people panicking a lot when things don't go or turn out their way. This is an attribute that you should try to find out in a candidate, before hiring. Because, as a tester, you will face these situations a lot when your bug is rejected, or something comes up in Production etc.

If a person/candidate shows signs of panic even for small problems, then chances are that at a higher project level, he/she would not be able to handle the failures which might lead to catastrophic errors/mistakes.

So these two behavioural traits are few red flags that I look for during an interview.

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If the candidate already has some experience, I would say the following points:

  • When the candidate cannot show the added value of automation.
  • When the candidate cannot analyse which tests should be automated.
  • When the candidate is not able to find the root cause of a bug / is not able to isolated the bug.
  • When given enough time, the candidate cannot write a decent bug report.
  • When the candidate does not ask much questions during an exercise.
  • If the candidate focuses on finding (a lot of) low priority bugs during an exercise.
  • When the candidate wants to use the position to grow into a developer position (for me personally, testing is a completely different career path).
  • When the candidate gives reason to believe he or she doesn't like to work together.
  • When the candidate cannot tell you why he likes testing (this is for each and every job).
  • When the candidate doesn't like to work under pressure, as most of the time testing is the bottleneck, I believe it is necessary to be able to work under pressure.
  • When the candidate is not able to think of nor write test cases.
  • When the candidate is not able to set adequate priorities to test cases and starts with executing those that have the lowest priority.
  • When the candidate has no hobbies or interests on its resume.

Without any experience (if the job starts with training for example) some questions will be hard to answer, but then the candidate should be able to show why he or she fits the testing job even though he or she has never done any (on-the-job) testing.

Of course, nobody will answer each and every question perfectly in each and every situation, especially if the candidate shows some nervous symptoms or is not that experienced.

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    Agree with most, but some of the criteria set by you are nonsensical. How is it relevant to have his hobbies or interests on display in the resume? How is it relevant for someone to LIKE to work under pressure? – AndreiT Sep 28 '17 at 7:34
  • @AndreiT: There is a link to why hobbies and interests are relevant. Maybe "like" working under pressure is not the best wording, but a candidate should not "hate" working under pressure, or should be capable to do so with the same work ethics and quality. I know of some people who dislike working under pressure, and I think for those people testing isn't the best job to pick (in most companies). – Renzeee Sep 28 '17 at 8:45
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    What I am trying to say is that ones free time is his own, be it spending it with hobbies or with family should be of no interest to an employer. As for working under pressure, this is really not a skill to be looking after. This is the easiest way to achieve burnout in people. People make mistakes when they are pressured, and that is not something Id like to test in a tester when for example someones life might be at stake. – AndreiT Sep 28 '17 at 8:48
  • I strongly agree with the blog post that I linked. Being good at working under pressure does not mean that you will work under pressure constantly, let alone get a burnout just because you can work under pressure. Also, making mistakes is part of each and every job in IT. I don't believe a lot of testers will ever work at a job in which lives are at stake. But if they do, they will feel pressure all the time, or at least I would if I know that making mistakes could endanger people. – Renzeee Sep 28 '17 at 9:20
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Have a look here: https://blog.gurock.com/interview-recruit-testers/ which also contains some interesting links to Kaner and Schoots.

In principle I would be interested to see if people are eager to learn! Do they ask questions? Questions that show that they are trying to understand the situation? Are they critical thinkers? And so on.

And as it is remote: whether they are able to communicate as clearly as possible. Which is already often difficult sitting together in the same room, but much harder when separated. My own experiences with distant team members are not that fantastic, to be honest.

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