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Today's testing is not much like yesterday's testing. More services, more distributed systems, more automation. I want the kind of testers that are self-starters and will constantly work themselves out of the job by writing test code. What are good interview questions for the modern software tester?

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closed as off topic by maple_shaft May 17 '13 at 9:20

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Beyond the technical stuff (ensuring they have the skills to do the job), I tend to be most concerned with three things:

  • Can they learn? - Good testers learn quickly and make a significant effort to learn. Ask them how they learn - or to give an example of when they had to learn something quickly and what the learning allowed them to do.

  • Can they deal with ambiguity? Testing relies a lot on figuring out how things work and the ability to ask the right clarifying questions to not head off in the wrong direction. Any sort of ambiguous question would work well for this, but I sometimes double up this with actual testing by asking "How would you test {foo}?" where {foo} is a web page, windows notepad, or something else small enough to discuss in full, but with enough meat where they should ask questions about the context and scope.

  • Can they see the big picture? - systems thinking - or at least a notion of seeing beyond what's right in front their faces is a good indicator of successful testing. For example, when they run into a problem, do they see it at the surface level only, or can they see how the pieces of the system interact and understand why the problem happened. This, while important for debugging, is more important for isolating issues - especially intermittent issues. You may get an inkling for this from the web page question above, but any question on dealing with complexity and interaction will help get a feeling for this.

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+1 for seeing the big picture. I really understand your comment on my answer now. I think to be great, you need both. – Ryan Hayes Dec 17 '10 at 19:38
Thanks for seeing the constructive part of that comment. Both is good. – Alan Dec 17 '10 at 19:49
+1 Completely agree. Getting "the big picture" is super important. – David Dec 24 '10 at 19:39

If we're talking web testing, then I would ask them to talk about their experience with testing tools. Specifically these or equivalents:

Great automated testers are great developers first, so make sure they understand code first and foremost. In my experience there are testers who are great developers too (the ones you want) and those who think programming is too hard, so they decide to be testers (those you don't want for automated testing testers).

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I actually disagree with your statement. Great automators are great developers first, but great automated testers are great testers first - they just know how to solve testing problems via automation. In my experience, many "test automators" blindly automate verification after verification, but miss performance, reliability, or security bugs right under their noses. It's subtle, but worth (IMO) being careful. YMMV, etc. – Alan Dec 17 '10 at 18:38

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