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5 Tips to Ace your Test Automation Interview

I often see candidates (especially college graduates) kinda lost when facing their interviews. And, even though I’d advise you to do as many interviews as you possibly can, to gather the required expertise for further interviews, being prepared from the very beginning might make you avoid somewhat unwanted surprises. Thus, let’s get you ready to rock any interview process for a test automation vacancy 🚀

TL;DR
1. Know the Process
2. Work on your Soft Skills
3. Master your Exploratory Testing Skills
4. Practice your Inner Programmer
5. Awareness of your Strengths, Weaknesses, and Ambitions

The original post was published by Sérgio Martins on Medium.

5 Tips to be a Test Automation Interviewee Hero

1. Know the Process

The interview processes are generally similar — don’t take these words for granted 😄. Thus, if you’re ready for a somehow generic process you’ll already be a step ahead from other candidates!

Usually, the interview process for a test automation position is composed of the following stages:

1. Human Resources First call — Usually, around 15~30 mins call to let you know the company and gather some first impressions. Sometimes, there are some buzzword questions; “Do you have experience with selenium?” or “Are you familiar with agile methodologies?”.

2. Theoretical Approach — This stage usually takes around 1~ hour. Here, you’ll be most of the time interviewed by future coworkers and they’ll try to pick your brain regarding theoretical questions and make a couple of assumptions to further evaluate you. Be prepared for some abstract’ ish questions such as “How would you test a chair?” to questions that you should be able to ace, like “Can you give us some examples of functional tests?” or “Knowing the test pyramid, what types of tests should you automate the most?” (👈 unit tests!)

3. Technical Interview — The juice. The most overlooked interview. This stage may take up to 2~ hours. Mostly depending on how you handle this interview, you’ll be able to establish yourself knowledge-wise 💰😏 Also, this stage often varies tons. Therefore, be ready to do manual testing, defect reporting, a small programming exercise on the spot or implement something you mentioned previously you were comfortable with, — you better be — because do not ever, I mean, ever, lie in an interview process. Especially in a technical one. You might be called out on the spot and that single-handedly may decide your whole process.

4. Somewhat Cultural or a Higher Hierarchy Manager’s call — Generally takes around 30~ mins up to 1 hour. If you succeed in the previous stages, the chances are you’ll meet someone higher on the hierarchy for the last impressions or someone else to have a cultural meeting to better understand you as a person and perceive if you’re a match for the organization and vice-versa. Yes, interviews are two ways. You’re being interviewed for sure, but seize the opportunity to interview your future working company as well — golden advice right here 🏆 👼

Haven’t mentioned, however, you will often be asked if you can solve one or a couple of programming exercises at home. Therefore, as every stage is an opportunity to gather knowledge around what the company is looking for, take this one as well.

2. Work on your Soft Skills

Truly underrated. Soft skills such as clear communication, positive attitude, engagement and interaction, analytical thinking, and the whole conversation itself are usually underrated. However, let me tell you a secret 👼

Interviewees are people being interviewed by other people. And, people connect. Somewhat, a power that must not be left behind. If your soft skills are on point, despite your lower knowledge evaluation, if that’s the case, you’re already ahead of the majority.

3. Master your Exploratory Skills

Although we tend to neglect it, exploratory testing is often part of the technical interview stage. Here, candidates are evaluated by organizations to better perceive their autonomous technique and strategy whilst testing.

Check my previous article on 5 Steps to Rock your Exploratory Testing Interview.

4. Practice your Inner Programmer

Imagine that, a couple of days ago a client of ours asked: “Why is that a tester needs access to our git repositories?” — hurt my feelings 😂 A misconception I also face daily.

Test Automation Engineers are also programmers!

But, in short, instead of developing new features, we turn micro specifications and requirements into code. Therefore, ensuring our product does what it is meant to be doing.

Thus, going into an interview might not be that far apart. You’ll most likely be asked to solve a programming exercise or solve a related testing exercise using some kind of framework setup. My advice is that you use platforms such as HackerRank or CodeInterview, so you can practice programming without a proper IDEA — programming on a whiteboard is also likely to happen!

Also, be proficient at least with one programming language. Let it be java, python, or javascript. Pick one, pick any. Get comfortable with it. You’ll need it to express your ideas, model your domain easily and quickly. The code should be like clay or putty, that you can move around and model and shape the way you want without even thinking about the language features.

5. Awareness of your Strengths, Weaknesses, and Ambitions

We all tend to avoid some killer questions, such as “Tell us something you did wrong in your current/previous job?” 💥 I know, right? But, keep in mind whoever interviews you is trying to understand, at all times, if they would like to work with you, and these kinds of questions often pop up. There’s only good in saying “I broke a deployment because of X and Z. However, I got to learn so much from that mistake. Something I do not regret. A great lesson” — see? Nearly made me hire you. No. But. Yes 😆

Knowing yourself is going to support you going through the process and most likely help you achieve its success, however, knowing yourself is, above all, of great personal value. It will allow you to define your own path from the very beginning, letting the interviewers know who you are. Your strengths, weaknesses, and ambitions.

Kudos

Despite this being a sample and generic description of what a test automation vacancy interview is, hopefully, it helps you achieve success on your next one!

But, above all, be humble and passionate about learning.

Leave a clap 👏 and good luck!

P.S.: do not forget to read the vacancy requirements before applying— trust me, this happens a lot!

You can find Sérgio on LinkedIn, Medium and GitHub.

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