Lecture 11 - How to Find Your First Job in Testing -> Why You Have A Real Chance To Find A Job In Testing -> Mental Tuning -> Job Hunting Activities -> Lecture Recap
ACTIVITY 0: Tune up your attitude. You are not the first or the last person looking for a first job. However, if you have the right attitude, your chances will improve tremendously.
ACTIVITY 1: Let people in your network know that you are looking for an entry-level position in testing and are ready to work unlimited hours, even on weekends and holidays, with minimal pay.
During one career-related seminar, the lecturer told us something very interesting: “Networking is not simply a desirable thing anymore. Nowadays, networking is a necessity.” What is networking? It’s a set of activities designed to meet new people, make contacts, and maintain those contacts.
The lecturer’s point was that we have to consistently work on widening our network, and as we do, our opportunities for success in life increase.
Who would a hiring manager contact first if he needs to hire a tester? That’s right – people from his network! So, if you are looking for a job, and a member of your network is looking for a candidate, this is a perfect situation for both of you!
But what if the people inside your network don’t work for software companies? That’s a very likely situation, but think about this. Let’s say you have ten friends, and each of these friends has ten friends. This means that if you ask ten of your friends to ask their friends, your message can possibly reach 100 people! So even if ten of your friends don’t work for software companies, they may know somebody who does. In reality, we all have many more than ten contacts, so your chances of finding a job via your network are much better than you think.
The best tool to formally manage and expand your professional network is LinkedIn.com. This project became so important in the business world that it’s been said, “If you are not on LinkedIn, you don’t exist.” Whatever professional stage you are at now, create an account there and start collecting your contacts.
1. Find and connect to people you know now.
2. Send invitations to join your network to people you meet.
Here are the benefits of using LinkedIn:
1. You’ll have a presence at a global networking place.
2. People you know can recommend you to people you don’t know.
3. There is a strong chance that a hiring manager will look at your LinkedIn profile before inviting you for an interview.
4. People who belong to your LinkedIn network can write recommendations for you that everyone can see in your profile. The more recommendations you have, the better your chances to get invited for an interview.
5. There is a feature called “People in your network who are hiring now” where you can see open positions.
6. In February 2008, LinkedIn introduced many new job hunters’ tools.
There are three types of natural networks:
– your professional network, i.e., your colleagues
– your school network, i.e., your classmates from school and college
– your social network, i.e., your friends and relatives
You should “link in” to the people from all of these networks, because all of them can be useful for your career.
There are other networking sites like Facebook that help people to meet people and make useful contacts.
But no network will help a person in the long run if he has a poor attitude, EVEN if he is very good professionally! LinkedIn is just a promotional tool, and no promotion can help in the long run if what’s being promoted doesn’t meet the expectations of consumers – i.e., companies or people you’ll work for. That’s why it’s imperative to understand that your value comes from WHO YOU ARE and WHAT YOU CAN (OR ARE WILLING) TO DO in the first place. Your network is just a helpful instrument to give you more chances to demonstrate your value. That’s why I keep emphasizing the importance of attitude!
When you want to send a message to your network about your interest in obtaining an entry-level position, it’s very important to contact the right persons. Here is what you should do: browse through
– your LinkedIn contacts and
– the contacts of your contacts,
looking for those who work for software companies or recruiting agencies.
– If somebody in your network is in the software or recruiting business, email them, have lunch with them (treat must be on you!), call them, etc., to let them know about your interest in being a software tester. Always have your resume ready, and don’t be shy about emailing it (we’ll talk about resumes in a minute).
– If a necessary contact is not in your network, ask a person from your network to recommend you. This all can be done using LinkedIn features.
And of course, you should talk to your friends and the people you meet about your intentions of entering the software industry: very often destiny creates great surprises for those who are looking – e.g., at the party you might meet somebody who works at a software company that currently is hiring testers.
ACTIVITY 2: Create a resume. This ACTIVITY should take place concurrently with ACTIVITY 1.
A resume is an advertisement. The recipients of that advertisement are employers and recruiters. Here is the difference between TV advertisements and a resume:
– On TV, viewers can be endlessly brainwashed until zombification is accomplished.
– In the case of a resume, there is no brainwashing – your resume has only one chance to make a good impression and inspire its recipient to call or email you.
A resume is the presentation of your knowledge and your virtues. The word “presentation” has a primary meaning here. The main difference between successful and unsuccessful resumes is the effectiveness of the presentation.
Your presentation is effective if the recipient
1. Completely understands the message expressed in your presentation
2. Acts according to how you expect him to act
During a job hunt, the recipients are employers and recruiters.
1. Your message is your interest in employment. You want to communicate this message properly.
On the one hand, in your resume you should clearly express:
– what you want: an entry-level tester position;
– what you can offer: your attitude, dedication, and acceptance of low pay;
On the other hand:
– Your resume should be very well written. I doubt anyone would be interested in a candidate whose resume is full of grammatical mistakes and misspellings.
– Your resume should use an energetic and confident tone – e.g., if you write “Achieved 10% reduction in expenses by introducing innovative technologies,” this sounds much better than “I was good for my company by changing the way they did things.“
– Your resume should be nicely formatted so the eye of the reader can immediately spot the necessary info. Appearance is the first thing that catches someone’s attention.
2. Your resume should motivate an employer or recruiter to call or email you.
Here are some practical things you can do to implement all these ideas about creating an effective presentation.
STEP 1, create a list of:
– your achievements
– your testing-related experiences
Let’s talk about achievements. A good tester is not just a person who knows how to test code and file bugs.
– A good tester is an achiever.
– A good tester is a person who produces results.
– A good tester has an I GIVE attitude.
You want to show recipients of your resume that YOU ARE ABLE TO ACHIEVE STRONG RESULTS. In fact, each of us has something to remember in this department. For example, one of my pals worked at an electronics store before becoming a software tester. He was one of the top salesmen, and he naturally put that info on his first resume. Guess what? It worked! Even if you just graduated from college, surely you can share some cool projects and situations where you took the initiative and did something extraordinary!
Of course, you won’t be able to remember all this at once. Put a piece of paper in your wallet and write down your achievements as you think of them: on the train, during lunch, walking in the park, etc. Create a comprehensive dirty list by writing down everything that you remember. Don’t worry about filtering it now.
Next, you want to rethink your experiences from a testing-related point of view and present your findings in professional way.
Rethinking your experience from a testing-related point of view can be challenging at first, but once you start writing down things down (dirty list), your memory will recall lots of useful items.
Once you have a dirty list, it’s time to sit down and modify in into a white list. Use this format:
Once you have the first version of your white list:
1. Modify the sentences of your white list so they start with action verbs and use powerful adjectives.
Verbs: Accomplished, Achieved, Arranged, Built, Clarified, Created, Defined, Designed, Developed, Discovered, Documented, Established, Implemented, Improved, Increased, Introduced, Invented, Maximized, Optimized, Organized, Pioneered, Produced, Promoted, Provided, Reduced, Saved, Standardized, ________________________________________________________ (write some more of your own)
Adjectives: Active, Effective, Important, Innovative, Outstanding, Positive, Powerful, Skilled, Strong, Substantial, Successful, Unique, Valuable, ________________________________________________________ (write some more of your own)
2. Try to remember concrete figures and numbers; in other words, measurable indicators of your achievements. For example, “Successfully introduced new processes that increased production output by 20%” sounds more convincing than an immeasurable “Successfully introduced new processes.”
STEP 2: Put your white list into your resume template. Download the template for a first resume from qatutor.com and fill in the section Professional Experience with entries from your white list.
STEP 3: Get some experience as beta tester and populate the section Beta Testing Experience. As you know, employers want testers with experience. So get some experience! It’s much easier than you think: Just Google the phrase “beta testers wanted” and you’ll find quite a few projects where you can contribute. Also, check out Google Labs; they always have something brewing there, e.g., as of February 2008, you can contribute by testing Experimental Search and Image Labeler.
Select several projects you like; if needed, become an official beta tester and start testing. Don’t be discouraged if it takes some time for you to find good projects to beta test; just keep looking and communicating, and you’ll eventually find what you need.
Try to expose yourself to as many aspects of beta testing as you can. For instance, it would be great to have direct access to a bug tracking system and be able to communicate with its developers, but this kind of situation is rare. Usually you just send your bug reports to an email address or use a special Web form to report bugs/concerns/issues/etc.
Dedicate some time every day to beta testing. This is good for your testing experience and for your resume! Make sure you write down your experiences, e.g., bugs that you find, recommendations you come up with, etc., to create a foundation for material you can put into your resume. Once you have enough stuff to write home about, create a white list of your beta testing experiences and enter it into the Beta Testing Experience section of your resume.
I want to stress two things about your beta testing:
– Don’t be shy about reporting problems, and don’t be afraid that the problems you discover will be made fun of. You know that you don’t have much experience in software testing, and those who invited you to do beta testing are also fully aware of the fact that they are dealing with nonprofessional testers. Go ahead and report any problems you see and are able to reproduce. If you take this beta testing seriously, your professional skills in bug finding and reporting will grow tremendously, because you’ll be dealing with real projects and doing a real testing job.
– Show your attitude. You probably won’t get paid for beta testing, but if you’re able to dedicate some undivided time (for example, one hour every day), then you’ll do well for yourself and the company. It’s likely that the company will never even send you a “thank you” email, but YOU’LL KNOW that you took the job and did it properly.
STEP 4: populate the section labeled Software Experience. We all hang out on YouTube, a social networking site, or whatever sites we find useful. Guess what? Mentioning this can be really good for your first resume, because they demonstrate that you are an active user of different Web projects and thus have an experience dealing with various Web applications. Also make sure to mention your experience in dealing with operating systems and specialized software, like Adobe Photoshop.
STEP 5: populate all other sections of the resume – Name, Address, Personal Summary, and Education. Just list all needed information in a straightforward way. If, in addition to your college education, you have some relevant courses (“Introduction to UNIX”), make sure to mention these as well.
STEP 6: polish the language of your resume.
In many cases, English is your second language. You might think that your writing in a foreign language is beautiful, but you don’t want someone to look at your writing and say, “What is that?”
Of course, a resume is not a book, but you get the point. What I recommend for resumes in English is this: post an ad on Craigslist.com with the title “20 bucks for quick editing job,” and explain your situation in body of the message, e.g., “I need a native English speaker to go through my resume. Will pay 20 bucks.” You’ll get many responses within several hours. Make sure that person has a Web site or some other means to verify that he really can do the job.
If you are a native English speaker, it’s still a good idea to give that resume to somebody for feedback. And in any case, ALWAYS USE SPELL CHECKER!
You’ll need to have your resume in three formats:
1. Microsoft Word document
2. HTML file
3. Text file
First, create your resume using MS Word, and then save it as a .doc file, then as an .html file, and then as a .txt file. Easy.
ACTIVITY 3: Find recruiting agencies that look for professionals for software companies in your target market.
Your target market is a certain geographical area where you want to look for work, e.g., Silicon Valley or Bangalore.
Here are four recruitment sites that you want to be familiar with if you look for employment in the U.S.:
Let’s call them The Big Four. If you are not looking for employment in the U.S., find recruiting Web sites in your country. This is not a hard task; just use Google search. From now on, I’ll assume that you are looking for a job in the United States, but you can use this same approach for any country.
Let’s say you go to HotJobs.com:
1. Using Search, enter the keyword “tester” (or “QA”) and specify your target market, “CA” (California).
2. Browse through the list of search results, looking for recruiting agencies.
3. Put the agency name, Web site, and the city and state where the recruiter is physically located into a special file. (You can get city/state info in the “Contact Us” section of the recruiter’s Web site.)
You can use this format:
Did I contact them? (Y/N)
Some Recruiting Agency, Inc.
San Francisco, CA
Do this for all of The Big Four sites.
Look at your table. You have just created a list of your potential business partners.
Next, you’ll want to establish a contact with those recruiters.
Let’s look at the column “City/State.” The best-case scenario is if the city/state of the recruiter is close to your physical location. Why? Because we need a list of recruiters in order to communicate with them, and the best way to do this is to meet with those recruiters in person.
BTW, depending on the context, “recruiter” can refer to either a recruiting agency or a person.
Recruiters are more than willing to meet you! So, call and set up a meeting with a person who is dealing with software companies. Tell him about your situation; show him your resume. Ask for advice and guidance. SHOW YOUR ATTITUDE! And remember that your success is their success; they are not helping you for free.
In other cases, a recruiter will not be within driving/train/subway distance. In this case, you can communicate with your recruiter via phone, email, or instant messaging.
Some very important things to find out from recruiters are: market condition, nuances, and trends.
For example, you might find out that there are many new start-ups that are developing software for mobile phones. What does this tell you? To go ahead and read about wireless technologies and about the nuances of testing of mobile software!
Don’t be shy to ask recruiters what they think about your resume. They can give you some pretty good guidelines.
Make sure to add the persons who you meet personally or via email or phone to your LinkedIn contacts.
Once you establish connections with some recruiters, you have representatives who will be promoting you to software companies. Not bad at all, considering that you pay nothing for it!
In case you establish “enough” contacts with recruiters, make sure to email your resume to recruiters on the rest of the list (and/or create a profile on their Web sites).
Keep checking for new job postings, and update your list of recruiters every day. Looking for a job is also a JOB!
The least a recruiter can do for you is to give you a piece of advice.
The most a recruiter can do for you is to set up an interview with a potential employer at an actual software company.
ACTIVITY 4: Launch a campaign dedicated to self-promotion.
Although there can be a great deal of help from the recruiters that you’ve met, don’t just sit and wait for a call from them. You should start an AGGRESSIVE campaign to promote yourself.
Approach 1: Create a profile and/or post your resume on The Big Four*.
Approach 2: Start sending your resume to as many employers and recruiters as possible.
*Of course, you can use more than the four previously mentioned recruiting Web sites. In fact, the more, the better. Get maximum exposure!
Approach 1 is a PASSIVE search. You resume is a piece of bait waiting for somebody (e.g., a recruiter going through posted resumes) to get interested enough to contact you. Once your resume is posted, it works for you 24/7 while you sleep, eat, play Wii, and waste your life in other pleasant ways.
Approach 2 is an ACTIVE search. You promote yourself by actively sending your resume
–as a response to a concrete posting about an open position. You can find out about open positions by
a. browsing posts on The Big Four
b. visiting the Web site of a software company
c. visiting the Web site of a recruiting agency
–as an offer of your testing services to employers/recruiters that didn’t post matching positions, but might* be interested.
*As we already discussed, every software company is interested in motivated, hardworking, entry-level testers.
Let’s talk about nuances.
The resume that you have is just a template, and in many cases it makes sense to adjust it for a particular position.
While in the majority of cases you’ll be sending your main resume, a few special cases will require that you adjust your resume for a specific position.
I know several testers who have been hired for highly paid jobs just because of relevant education and/or job experience. The logic is simple: it’s much easier to learn testing techniques than quantum physics.
So far, we’ve been concentrating on your resume, but there is also a very important part of your presentation called the cover letter.
– On the one hand, the cover letter is a tool to share some things that might be not appropriate on your resume, e.g., your personal passion and excitement about the position and/or the particular software company.
– On the other hand, the cover letter gives you an extra way to communicate your attitude.
A position can be posted by a company directly or via a recruiter. In both cases, the main point of your cover letter should be:
I’m ready to work unlimited hours.
I’m ready to work on weekends and holidays.
I’m ready to work for any amount of money.
Don’t be afraid to include these three lines in both your resume and your cover letter. Remember, this is your main weapon!
Be prepared for the fact that 98% of all positions will NOT be for entry-level testers. Should that stop you from applying? Of course not! That’s the whole idea – for your first job, you have to pave your way in unorthodox ways to be successful, and if some company needs testers with any level of experience, just send them your resume (with or without a cover letter, depending on situation). Even if the recruiter/company might not need you – or might have a good laugh at your resume, or just ignore it – WHO CARES? You have a brick wall in front of you, and it’s up to you to break through it.
Here is another reason that 98% of the positions require proven testing experience. Today is March 8th, 2008. Let’s assume that software testing as a profession doesn’t exist. I can guarantee you that, if tomorrow somebody needs a software tester, they would specify that three years of experience is a must. Well, that was a joke, but the point is that in the majority of cases, the requirements listed in the job description are too high. Remember, this is just a game! So now you, too, know the rules.
Another argument for sending your resume (and, if needed, your cover letter) is the possibility that the software company is actually getting ready to hire an entry-level tester, so you’ll just save them the trouble of posting and searching for the right candidate.
I’ll end with a story about a frog that fell into a jar of milk. Instead of giving up and drowning, it started to move its legs and arms (or whatever you call those things for frogs). The milk eventually turned into butter, and the frog survived. The frog had no idea about the chemical aspects of turning milk into butter, but it just kept fighting.
Now you have a great advantage, because you have just learned one of the most important things about hunting for your first job: In order to find your first job, you have to shoot at ALL targets:
– Invisible (passive search)
– Visible (active search)
To summarize VISIBLE targets, you will want to look for:
– Testing positions posted on recruiting Web sites, e.g., the Big Four
– Testing positions posted on software companies’ Web sites in the area where you live (or where you would like to relocate)
Keep track of all the resumes you send in a separate file. You can use the table below. The last column, Documents, should have a link to the file with your resume, cover letter, and any other files you’ve sent to that specific recipient. You need to track whatever you’ve sent one way or another.
So my friends, shoot at ALL targets and GOOD LUCK! According to my observations, approximately 300 resumes are required to get you several interviews, one of which will end up with a job offer.
And don’t forget about your network. Send your resume to your friends first!
ACTIVITY 5: Interview successfully and get a job.
Interview… This is a sweet and somewhat thrilling word for everyone who is looking for a job. It doesn’t matter if it’s someone’s first or thirtieth interview: it’s always a new, unique, and useful experience. The interview for your first job stands apart, though, because the candidate usually has zero experience in software testing as well as in what to do during the interview in order to leave a positive impression.
My purpose it to give you several good approaches to increase both your confidence and your chances to get a job offer.
Please remember and believe that if you’ll work hard AND smart during the job hunting process, employers will want to meet you. Weeks and months can pass without an invitation for an interview, but one day you’ll get that call or email you’ve been waiting for. This is not a theoretical stuff. I’ve been there, and I know what I’m talking about.
You’ll be given an address and time for your interview. You’ll be at the employer’s office thirty minutes before the interview. One minute before the time of the interview, you’ll take a deep breath, open the door, and say to the receptionist, “Hello, my name is <your full name>. I’m here for an interview with <interviewer’s full name>.”
WAIT! What about the period of time between the invitation for an interview and the interview itself? You MUST do your homework during this time. What kind of homework? Let’s elaborate:
A. Get as much information as possible about the company: product(s), business model, partners, competitors, market, history, culture, founders, etc.
The most straightforward reason for doing this is that start-up folks love their companies, and they would surely appreciate the fact that you know a lot about them.
But there is more to it.
B. Involve your network.
For example, you can use LinkedIn to find out how people working for a particular company are connected to you. Make calls, send emails, meet for lunch; the world is small, and sometimes life brings us wonderful gifts, such as the example below.
C. If possible, try to actually use the company’s product(s).
For example, if I scheduled a candidate to come to our ShareLane for an interview, I’d recommend buying at least one book from our Web site. Why? Simply to get a practical knowledge about our product. It’s one thing is to tell an interviewer, “Your product is great,” and quite another thing to say, “I personally like your product because <list number of concrete reasons why YOU like it>.”
D. Get a nice haircut; clean, good-looking clothes and shoes; and try to get some sleep.
All of these obvious things are often forgotten. The Russians say: “The first impression is about your looks; the second impression is about your words.” It’s great to say smart things during your interview, but how you LOOK is also very important. I read somewhere that a good chunk of an overall impression is made within the FIRST several seconds of an interaction, so looking like Indiana Jones right after he returned from the jungle doesn’t really help you make a good impression. Here are some more thoughts about your appearance during an interview:
Clothes: For the interview, it’s customary to wear a business suit. I personally never do it for the following reasons:
1. It’s not what software engineers wear: our professional uniform is shorts, t-shirts, sweaters, and jeans. If I were a banker, I’d come to an interview looking like a banker, wearing a formal suit and shiny leather shoes.
2. If your current manager sees you wearing business suit, the first thing he might think is that you are being interviewed at another company. As we’ll discover later, you must get a new a job first before you quit your old job. I know a guy who puts on his Armani suit every time he wants to scare his boss about his leaving the company.
Cosmetics: Don’t overdo it. This is a cultural thing: in the U.S., cosmetics are more lightly applied than in Europe or Asia. After all, you are applying for a software job, not a modeling position.
Perfume: Don’t use it at all. There are many people with allergies. Again, in the U.S., people use fragrances much more lightly.
Sleep: It might be really hard to get a good night’s sleep the night before the interview, especially if it’s your first interview. But you must understand that even if your clothes and haircut look great, it doesn’t really help if your face is reminiscent of a dried apple and your eyes are red like on a photo when a flash was used. Besides, you’ll think more clearly if you are well rested. Read here about my failed interview.
To conclude this section on appearance, I can’t help mentioning a funny situation that occurred when one dude came to an 11:00 a.m. interview…drunk. We talked to him and were really impressed with his expertise; he was GOOD! But, come on, if he came drunk to the interview, i.e., the place where everybody does his best to make a good impression, what could we expect from him in his “normal” state: dancing naked with a bottle of Stoli during his lunch break?
Okay, let’s assume that you’ve gotten a call/email with an invitation to a person-to-person interview, you’ve done your homework, and you’re ready to kick ass. Below are my recommendations:
1. Arrive on time.
Traffic jams, an incidental encounter with an ex-girlfriend, an upset stomach after burned toast, a missed train, a broken alarm clock, a flat tire, contact with a UFO – none of these important moments of your preinterview existence have any importance whatsoever to an interviewer. Try to arrive thirty minutes early to the interview. Find the right door, and then go outside and walk around the building a few times, asking God to help you get that job. At the exact time of your interview, knock at the door and tell the receptionist your name and the name of your interviewer.
2. Have a firm handshake and look directly into the interviewer’s eyes.
You have nothing to be shy about. You didn’t come to solicit a free meal; you’ve come to offer your help. The interviewer is just another human being – no better and no worse than you – and it’s likely that she herself was interviewed and hired just days ago. This is just business: if you like each other you might work together; if not, you’ll find an even better company across the street.
3. Answer questions without any unnecessary details but let the interviewer know that if needed, you’ll go into the details.
4. Be friendly, yet considerate.
Whether or not you feel comfortable during your interview, try to be friendly. Make it easy for the interviewer to like your personality, but don’t overdo it: during an interview, there is no room for stuff like:
– Anecdotes about lovers jumping from the balcony
– Stories about crazy college parties and their aftermath
– Jokes about gender, nationality, race, or religion, etc.
A professional is not a person with merely technical skills. A professional is a person who knows what to say and when to say it.
Put yourself into the interviewer’s shoes.
5. If the interviewer wants to talk, let him talk.
In many cases, an interviewer will want to share something with you, such as his excitement about the company. Don’t interrupt. Be a good listener. Sometimes you can pass an interview using nothing but word “Wow” several times as the interviewer speaks and you listen.
In general, it’s a very good idea for you to discover a subject that the interviewer is passionate about (as a rule, that subject is the interviewer himself). This is one of the greatest selling techniques around. When you are being interviewed, you are simply selling your future time and efforts!
6. NEVER speak negatively about your previous or current employers. THIS IS AGAINST THE RULES.
This topic might not apply for a first job candidate, but still this is an extremely important point.
Whether you used to work as a tester for a software company, an accountant for a hardware company, or a bricklayer for a construction company, you should NEVER say anything negative about your employers. The most natural question asked during an interview is: “Why do you want to find a new job?” Even if you were forced to look for a new job because of the racists, sexists, bigots, perverts, drunks, porn surfers, nose pickers, and other colorful personalities who clustered at your company like bees inside a beehive, RESIST the temptation to share your heartbreaking story because:
a. Interviewers don’t care about your problems. If you need some compassion, tell your story to your spouse or friend.
b. You will look like a backstabber and a whiner. Both backstabbers and whiners are despised.
The greatest answer I’ve ever heard to that question was: “I’m looking for new challenges.” (Aren’t we all?) After that answer, there are no other questions about why you want to quit your present job.
When you are at the interview, the Golden Rule is this: Either say positive things about your employers OR say absolutely nothing about them. In the unlikely case of an interviewer who tries to provoke you to be negative, simply say: “I never say negative things about my employers.“
Many good engineers screw up their interviews because they share stories about their sinister employers.
Complaining about your present and/or former employer(s) is called negativity. Negativity is an opportunity killer. NEVER be negative at an interview.
7. Always remember that during the interview, the interviewer is analyzing you as a potential coworker.
Ask yourself honestly whom you would rather work with:
– Someone who is an amazing specialist, but stinks like he spent the night in a pigsty, treats everybody as stupid, inferior beings, talks about you behind your back, and reads German philosophers merely to snobbishly mention it during a conversation
– Someone who is an absolute beginner, but who is smart, motivated, honest, and positive; who wears clean clothes; who will stay at the office as long as needed to provide results and make his team look good; someone who will always acknowledge his fault and never stab you in the back.
You got the point. On the surface, it might seem like that the interviewer who chooses the second candidate cares more about his own interests than the interests of his employer, but in reality, the second candidate will mostly likely bring much more to the company. Why? ATTITUDE is precious – the second candidate will bring comfort, reliability, and a joyful atmosphere to your team, and team productiveness has a direct correlation on how team members interact with each other and feel about each other.
I would sacrifice my own personal time just to get the second candidate up to speed. When I was just beginning my testing career, I met several people who helped me just because they felt my attitude. My prayers will always be with them.
Here is another note about personality – more precisely, the element of personality known as “enthusiasm.“
For many start-up employees, working for a start-up is not just a way to receive biweekly paycheck, but it’s also a way to live a dream (whether this dream is about making millions of dollars, making a difference, or something else). During the interview, don’t be shy – show your sincere excitement about the company. For example, let’s say you are a huge fan of the baseball team, the San Francisco Giants. One person, Rajiv, is a huge Giants fan, just like you; another person, Ron, likes baseball, but it doesn’t really matter to him who plays – he just likes to sip his drink and watch the game. If you have an extra ticket for a SF Giants/Milwaukee Brewers game, who would you ask to join you? Most likely you’ll invite Rajiv, because you both share the same PASSION. By analogy, startup employees are (as a rule) huge fans of their companies, and if you show that you are a fan too at the interview, you’ll have much more of a chance to be invited to a game, i.e., to be hired.
8. Honesty and sincerity win hearts. Lies and attempts to conceal something are sure ways to ruin your interview.
You simply cannot know all the correct answers to all the interview questions, because this is your first job. Just try to come to terms with that truth. So how should you handle it if you are asked a question you don’t know how to answer?
– wrinkle your forehead,
– move your lips,
– direct your eyes to the upper-right position (this is a sign that you are inventing something),
– do anything else that attempts to show that you are digging something from the caves of your memory
By doing any of the above, you simply insult the other person’s intelligence and waste his time.
Say two things sincerely and confidently:
1. “I don’t know” (this is a testimony to your honesty).
2. “If needed, I’ll learn it” (this is a testimony to your attitude).
The combination of these two phrases is probably the most powerful tool you have during your first interview. In fact, if you asked me to share the recipe for a successful interview, I’d give it to you in one sentence: “Demonstrate your attitude, and if you don’t know something, say, “I don’t know, but if needed, I’ll learn it.'” This might sound like oversimplification, but it works. Check it out for yourself.
Even having plenty of experience, I still use this “I don’t know” – “If needed, I’ll learn it” combo. I’m not uncomfortable admitting this, because the world of technology is so diverse and complex that no one can know it all.
One last aspect that I want to mention is that your readiness to learn new things is one of the greatest assets a software engineer can possess. So make sure that the interviewer knows that you are open to learn.
9. Don’t get upset or angry if the interview doesn’t go smoothly. No matter what happens, TRY to stay calm, friendly, and respectful.
The thing here is that it doesn’t matter what YOU think about how interview is going. What matters is what the interviewers decide between themselves after the interview. So try to relax and do your best. It’s easier to say, “Try to relax,” than to actually relax, but it is doable. The best techniques I’ve found are:
1. Decrease the value of this particular job by thoughts like, “Is this the only company in the world?” or “This company is too far from my home,” or “Maybe I can get a better salary at another company,” etc.
2. Try to image the worst thing that could happen. Are you going to be put in the electric chair or be eaten alive by a great white shark if you don’t pass that interview? No. If you don’t pass it, you’ll just get upset, get over it, and then send out more resumes and get another interview at an even better company.
10. Never cancel an interview until you accept a job offer.
But canceling interviews has even more negative sides. By canceling an interview, you deprive yourself of the valuable opportunity to:
– Find out what questions are asked at interviews
– in general
– at the company with a certain type of technology
– in a certain geographical area;
– Learn the correct answers to the above questions
– Polish your communication skills
– Improve your general interview skills
Interviewing well is a separate skill. It might sound like a paradox, but
in reality there is very little relationship between how good a person looks during the interview and how well that person would work.
There are lousy workers who pass an interview with flying colors, and there are great specialists who barely make it to a job offer. What is required to improve any skill? Simple: you need a lot of practice! With each new interview, you’ll learn more and thus improve your interview skills. Those skills will help you to find your first job, and they will continue to be great professional assets that you’ll use hunting for each new job!
11. Remember that an interview is a DIALOG, not an interrogation.
A friend once told me that the night before her first interview she had a dream that her interview was just like a scene from the movie Conspiracy Theory, when Mel Gibson was tied to the chair, a bright light shining into his eyes, his eyelids taped open, and the iron voice of the evil daddy asking scary questions.
Your imagination can create the most fearsome situations, but the truth is that nobody is going to interrogate you during a job interview. You are not going to be tortured, made miserable, or be given a choice: “Death or the right answer to what a test plan is.”
An interview is simply a conversation. As a rule, it’s the type of dialog where one person asks questions and another person answers those questions, but in many cases, it’s a great idea to turn the interview into a typical conversation where people ask each other questions. An interview is a great source of knowledge, so use that opportunity to learn things. Usually at the end of an interview, it’s customary for the interviewer to ask you if you have any questions. But my point is that you don’t have to wait for that moment. Try to elegantly (elegance is key here) direct the conversation into the two-way mode. For example:
Interviewer: What experience do you have with Python?
You: I know the basics about string operations, file management, and CGI scripting. What Python skills are, in our opinion, the most valuable in your company?
If you sense that the interviewer wants to keep things in an I-ask-you-you-answer-me format, do it his way – don’t push!
Also, you’ll probably make it easier for the interviewer if the two of you have less formal communication. What are the benefits of having less formal communication?
You let interviewer be heard. We all love to be heard, and we like people who listen to us.
You fill the interview time with more than just questions about your skills. You don’t have too many skills when you are applying for your first job.
You have more opportunities to talk about your attitude. Your attitude is your main advantage, so use every opportunity to talk about it.
You’ll get a lot of information on many formal and informal subjects. A friend of mine once told me about a situation where some interviewers were talking negative about their colleagues from the same company. What kind of unhealthy team is that? My friend simply refused to work for them.
12. Use professional terms.
You’ve learned many new terms: bug, front-end, database, test case, etc. USE THEM during the interview. Subconsciously, people trust the expertise of speakers who have a professional vocabulary. It’s one thing when a candidate speaks about technical stuff using common language, and it’s a totally different thing when a candidate (even with ZERO experience) uses professional terms fluently. By the time you finish this Course, you’ll know the definitions for the majority of professional terms you’ll ever encounter during your testing career, and you will have every right to use those terms because you know what you are talking about.
13. Remember your mantra and make sure the interviewer knows these things about you:
“I’m ready to work unlimited hours.”
“I’m ready to work on weekends and holidays.”
“I’m ready to work for any amount of money.”
You are probably tired of me mentioning “attitude” so many times, but please understand that I’m doing this simply to hammer this stuff into your subconscious, because attitude is the only real asset that you can put on the table when you are looking for your first job.
14. Below is a list of typical interview questions and my recommended answers.
Please note that your attitude should be felt in each answer!
Q. Why did you decide to become a software tester?
A. I’ve always enjoyed digging into the features of software to discover any problems. To me, software testing is the art of finding ways to break the software, and I want to master that art. Besides, I’ve always dreamed of being part of a cool Internet project. I’m confident that I have the qualities that can help me to be an excellent professional. For example, I’m detail-oriented, work well under pressure, and I’m ready to sacrifice my personal time for the job. Most of all, I feel that I can contribute to the success of your company.
Q. What do you like most about software testing?
A. On the one hand, I like the fact that testing requires intuition, creativity, and technical skills.
On the other hand, I like the importance of testing, because a tester produces concrete, valuable result by helping to stop bugs from being released to end users.
Q. What are the key qualities of a good tester?
– An “I-can-break-it” attitude
– A genuine interest in software testing and pride in doing a tester’s job
– An urge for constant professional growth
– The ability to quickly switch between tasks
– An informal concern about the product
– The ability to work well with people
– The ability to remain effective and focused under pressure
– Having no doubts about sacrificing personal time when it’s required by the job
I think I have all of these qualities.
Q. Tell me about your short- and long-term plans for your career in software testing.
A. I want to become an expert at my trade. My short-term plan is to find a job and apply my theoretical knowledge to actual work. My long-term plan is to constantly improve my professional skills and possibly specialize in one aspect of testing – for example, the automation of regression testing. Whatever my plans are for the future, if I am hired, my focus will be to get up to speed ASAP and go above and beyond in order to become an effective professional.
Q. In the very unlikely scenario that the company needs you to come into the office during the night, would you be willing to?
A. Yes, I’ll be available 24/7. (The key here is to give your answer quickly and in a confident voice.)
Q. In the very unlikely scenario that the company asks you to come in during weekends and holidays, would you be willing to?
A. Yes. The job comes first. (The key here is to give your answer quickly and in a confident voice.)
Q. During crunch time you might need to work more than eight hours a day. Are you comfortable with that?
A. Absolutely. I know that a tester’s job often requires unlimited hours. I’m ready for it! (The key here is to give your answer quickly and in a confident voice.)
Q. Can you work on several projects at once?
A. Yes, I can quickly switch my attention and focus between tasks.
Q. How do you deal with time pressure and pressure from the management?
A. I’m completely aware of the fact that working for a start-up is interesting and rewarding, but also involves a lot of hard work when everybody is under pressure from time, venture capitalists, competitors, etc. I’m ready, and I can work in this type of environment.
Q. Describe your relevant experience and education.
A. (The answer depends on your situation. Try to present your education/experience in a way that somehow relates to testing. Beta testing experience is a great asset in answering this question).
Q. What is your biggest professional achievement?
A. (Again, the answer depends on your situation. As a rule, this type of question is not even asked if you are applying for your first job. In any case, though, be prepared to answer this question. Each of us has something to be proud of.)
Q. Why are you leaving your current employer?
A. (As a rule, this question is not asked if you are applying for your first job. In any case, NEVER say negative things about any previous employer.) Here is the standard answer if your experience is not in software testing: I feel that software testing is a great match for me, and I’m looking for new opportunities.
Q. What are your biggest disappointments at your present position?
A. (As a rule, this question is not asked if you are applying for your first job. In any case, NEVER say negative things about any previous employer.) Here is the standard answer: I have no disappointments. My priorities are hard work and constant professional improvement at my current position. My attitude is, “What can I give to my company to make it more successful?”
Q. Would you prefer to work for a large, established company or a start-up?
Choose whatever works best in your situation:
I prefer to work for a large, established company, because all the processes are already in place, and I can get up to speed quickly.
I prefer to work for a dynamic start-up, where I can participate in the creation of new processes and help to start the QA department from ground zero. How cool is that!
Q. Give me an example of a complex situation and solution that you’ve found.
A. (As a rule, this question is not asked if you are applying for your first job. In any case, though, be prepared to answer this question.)
Q. Tell me about your strengths and weaknesses.
A. (Be prepared to answer this question. Give a humorous example of some small weakness, e.g., “I like to play poker,” followed by something really powerful about yourself – “I’m ready to work unlimited hours.”)
Q. What would you like to improve in your career, and what are you doing about it?
A. (As a rule, this question is not asked if you are applying for your first job, but be prepared to answer it anyway. For example: I want to improve my programming skills. I’m in the middle of an online course on Python.)
Q. Would you prefer to work as a member of a team or independently? Why?
A. (The answer depends on your personal preferences. Be prepared for this question).
Q. Why do you want to work for our company?
A. (Remember what you’ve found out about the company and passionately tell the interviewer about what attracted you about the company.)
Q. What do you know about our company? Have you ever used our product?
A. (Share your knowledge and positive experiences. DON’T CRITICIZE.)
Q. Why should we hire you over another candidate?
A. (This provocative question is designed to catch you off guard and observe your reaction, so be ready. In a confident voice, tell the interviewer what you will do if you are hired:
– I will use all my knowledge, time, and efforts to meet your expectations.
– If I don’t know something, I’ll learn it fast.
– This job will be my first priority in life.
15. Make a speech at the end of your interview.
At the end of your interview, conclude with a powerful bang; with all your passion, honesty, and sincerity say something like:
“I know that I don’t have much experience, and I realize that there might be more qualified candidates. But please give me a chance. That’s the only one thing I ask for. I’m ready for a low salary, I’m ready for hard work, I’m ready for unlimited hours, and I’m ready to learn and become productive as soon as humanly possible. Please give me that chance.”
Seriously, if somebody without any experience would say this to me, I’d hire him (if I liked that individual). On the one hand, I’d help somebody to “learn to fish,” and on the other hand, I’d feel better by the simple fact of helping. Also, I know that when you’ve given a chance to someone, that person is usually forever grateful to you. That might sound selfish, but I enjoy the fact that there are folks who have gratitude in their hearts for what I’ve done for them.
16. Always send a thank-you email to the interviewer after the interview.
It doesn’t matter if you think the interview was successful or not – this is just good manners. And in the end, there could be a situation when, during a tie with another candidate, your thank-you email will tilt the scales in your favor.
We’re finished with the interview, but before we proceed further, let me share a little more about job hunting.
One of the hardest things to deal with is rejection. Be ready, though, because most likely there will be PLENTY of:
– Explicit rejections (e.g., “We cannot hire you at this time.”)
– Implicit rejections (e.g., no response from the company after you send them your resume)
It might be extremely painful, but you have to learn to take rejections as a part of the game.
Some things about the post interview:
1. After the interview, the interviewer gives his feedback to the hiring manager, and the hiring manager makes a decision based on the feedback from all interviewers and his own opinion. If opinions vary and/or the hiring manager is not sure about the candidate, the candidate might get an invitation for another interview.
2. Sometimes it takes a week or more between your last interview and a call from the company with a job offer. Don’t lose your optimism if nobody calls you the next day after your last interview.
3. It depends on the company whether rejection comes in the form of an email, a letter, or not given at all.
Here is a story about George and Olga.