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Job interviews are tough. It's as if every interview question was crafted to take you out of the race.

You spend time before the interview reading about the company, you rehearse your answers to every question you think they'll ask you, and then on the day of the interview, you show up an hour early and drink far too much coffee.

Yeah, we’ve all been there - interviews are anxiety-inducing at the best of times. 

Well, we’re here to help reduce some of that pre-interview anxiety. This guide lifts the lid on QA interviews, lists common types of software testing, and explores some QA interview questions and answers to help you prepare for the big day.

How To Prepare For A QA Interview?

The best way to prepare for a QA interview is to honestly evaluate your abilities and focus on your strengths while acknowledging your weaknesses.

Brush up on your definitions, read through the questions and answers above, and remembering that the hiring process is as much about finding the right culture fit as it is finding the most qualified candidate.

To excel in your QA interview, it's crucial to be familiar with industry-leading test management software. These tools are often the backbone of any successful QA project.

How Long Does A QA Interview Take?

It depends on the interviewer, the interviewee, and how quickly you go through the questions.

QA interviews, whether it be for the position of a quality assurance engineer, analyst, manager or lead, can take a long time. Often there will be several rounds of interviews and a technical interview down the road.

In general, most QA interviews will take between one and two hours to complete, though there may be multiple interviews over the entire hiring process. 

List Of QA Interview Questions And Answers

My goal with this article is to help prepare you for the kind of QA interview questions you'll be asked whether it's about automation, your testing process, or your personality.

Often, the interviewer will be interested in two things: your abilities as a QA engineer and your approach to testing.

Some QA interview questions will be open-ended or seem vague. This is because the interviewer wants to listen to your approach. They're trying to get a sense of the kind of worker you are, and, more importantly, if you're the kind of worker that will fit in with their testing team.

Without further ado, here's a list of common QA interview questions and answers for you to get an idea for your responses. Good luck!

1. Why should I hire you?

This is a favorite question for interviewers from all over the world. This isn’t a trick question - it’s an icebreaker.

Take this opportunity to put your strongest foot forward. Talk about what makes you passionate about QA, and why you’ll do the job better than anyone else on the QA team due to the unique combination of talent and personality traits that only you can bring to the role. Don’t worry about being self-critical or overly humble here. The question is designed to talk about the strengths of the applicant. 

This question is so often mentioned in interviews that entire columns have been written to put minds at ease. If you’re still feeling like you need more guidance on how to answer this question, I recommend checking out BigInterview’s comprehensive article for further advice.

2. What is a bug?

A bug is any kind of error, mistake or failure in software code that prevent the software function from executing properly. 

3. What is the difference between severity and priority?

These are important distinctions that must be known for proper time management. Severity is how difficult the issue is to fix. Priority is how important the issue is to fix. 

Just because an issue is high severity doesn’t necessarily mean it’s high priority and vice versa.

Here’s an example of a high-severity, low-priority issue:

  • The application crashes when a rarely used function is run on legacy software that most users can’t access.

Here’s an example of a low-severity, high-priority issue:

  • The wrong company logo is displayed on startup. 

4. What is the difference between Assert and Verify commands in test automation?

There is a lot of similarity between the two commands. Both check if the codes conditions are true. The difference is what happens next.

  • When an assert command fails it will stop executing code and the test will pause.
  • When a verify command fails it will plow ahead and execute the rest of the code.
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5. What is the difference between Quality Assurance, Quality Control, and Quality Testing?

Quality assurance plans the way in which test process will be monitored within a team and organization. Quality control finds defects and suggests ways to improve the software. Testing is the process in which quality assurance and quality control find bugs.

Here's a related guide on the difference between quality assurance and quality engineering, and the difference between quality control and quality assurance.

6. When should QA start?

QA should begin as soon as possible. The earlier QA analysts, QA testers, and QA team leads get involved in the process the more headaches are prevented later in the software development cycle. Static tests can be performed before the software is fully functional. 

7. What is the QA testing life cycle?

You can talk about the testing process that you're most familiar with, but here is a standard version:

  1. Requirements
  2. Planning 
  3. Analysis 
  4. Design 
  5. Implementation 
  6. Execution 
  7. Conclusion 
  8. Closure 

 8. What is a test plan? 

A test plan is a document that outlines the details of the intended test. It states before testing begins the required roles, potential risks and solutions, and resources it will use.

9. What does a test plan include?

Test plans should include:

  • The scope,
  • The approach
  • Resources required
  • Intended schedule of the test/s 

10. What would you include in an automation test plan?

Since building a plan for automation testing is a big undertaking, you don't have to go into every detail.

Instead, name a few important aspects of a test plan—for example, talk about how the plan should describe how the tests will be designed, how they will be executed, how defects will be managed, and what the test automation reporting will look like.

11. What is a Use case?

Use cases describe the cause and effect of a function. It makes sure that the user action and the system response are talking to each other properly. 

 12. What is a Test Strategy?

The test strategy outlines the plan for the testing stage of software development.

Unlike the test plan, which describes one specific test, the test strategy covers the entire testing phase of development and includes a description of the testing tools, test groups, test priorities, test record maintenance, and the test summary.

13. Are test strategies and test plans the same document?

No. Test plans collect and organize test cases.

Test strategies describe the approach towards testing. In general, test strategies are managed by the QA manager or QA lead while test plans are managed by the QA testers.

14. What are some different kinds of testing?

Answer: Answer: Regression testing, exploratory testing, functional testing, load testing, integration testing, unit testing, cross-browser testing white box testing, black box testing, volume testing, alpha testing, beta testing, and so many more.

For more on different testing techniques, check out our post on software testing types.

15. What do you think are some advantages of manual testing?

Here are a few advantages of manual testing that you can talk about:

  • It can be less expensive compared to automated testing.
  • For new teams or people new to QA, it can be easier to learn how to run a manual test, so they can be rolled out faster.
  • To a similar point, manual testing can be great on short-term projects when test scripts won't be re-used many times.
  • You can analyze the product from the point of view of the end-user when doing manual testing.
  • Testing the GUI can feel more intuitive and lead to more accurate results when doing a manual test; the visual accessibility and preferences can be tricky to automate.

Here's an article where you can read more about the pros and cons of manual testing and automated testing.

16. What is a good test case?

A good test case clearly states the parameters in which the test will be performed and the bugs it hopes to find. 

17. What is the difference between functional and nonfunctional testing?

Functional testing tests the key parts of the software to ensure it matches requirements and specifications. Nonfunctional testing tests important but not crucial aspects of the software such as load times, stress, and overall performance. 

18. Should QA's resolve production issues?

You might have varying opinions on this one, but I'd advise you to answer "Yes".

It’s often good for the QA to be involved in solving production issues. They should, when possible, write test cases, review test data and try to find the issues. By getting involved, the QA is minimizing the number issues in the final product.

19. When you find a bug in production, how do you ensure the bug gets resolved?

The best course of action is to immediately write a test case for the bug and run a regression test. That way any future tests performed on the software should check specifically for that bug. 

20. What did you do in your last project?

There are no clear answers, only guidelines, for this one. It's common for interviewers to ask about your career trajectory and previous projects, so make a quick list of points in advance so you can speak to the projects that you think best represent your work.

The biggest piece of advice I can give is to answer as honestly as possible. Don’t exaggerate or undervalue your contribution in previous teams. Highlight moments when you took on QA project manager work outside of your responsibilities to demonstrate your ownership. Tell them what your day-to-day role was, what tools you used, and how the QA testing went. 

21. How do you prioritize when you have so many tasks?

Think about how you’ve approached busy moments in the past. Are you a strict scheduler? Or do you prefer budgeting your time more loosely, allowing room to adapt to sudden issues? Again, these testing interview questions are more about determining whether you’re a good personality fit for their team. 

If you’re somebody who feels that prioritizing multiple projects is one of your weak points, the Harvard Business Review has a guide on how to properly prioritize at work. 

22. Tell me about your most difficult project.

Take a deep breath. Let it all come back to you, the emotions, the late nights trying to find the problem, the inordinate amount of take-out boxes piled up on your test.

This is a great opportunity to let your passion for QA come out. Walk them through what caused you the most difficulty, why it was so hard to find the solution, and how hard you worked to resolve the issue. 

 23. Tell Me about A Time You Missed a Bug

 In the very first question I told you to unselfconsciously put your best foot forward. This is why. Not every question is going to be phrased in a way that puts you in the best light.

In a QA interview the person tasked with hiring needs to know that any potential team members are open about making mistakes.

The worst thing a QA tester can do is act as if they’ve never made an error. Be open and honest. By the time you’re sitting in an interview, it’s a certainty that you’ve missed a bug or made a mistake. Talk them through the mistakes you made, how you resolved the problem, and what you’ve learned from it. 

24. How would you test a broken toaster?

This is a bonus question because some organizations like these sort of questions and others don’t. On one hand it puts the interviewer in a difficult position, and one they almost certainly didn’t expect to be in. But the benefit is that it requires quick, out of the box thinking and presents an opportunity for the interviewee to demonstrate their creativity. 

Due to the spirit of the question, I’m not going to tell you how to test a broken toaster. That’s up to you. 

25. What are important characteristics for leaders in QA?

A question like this will probably be among any set of QA engineer interview questions or similar positions geared towards leadership. You might also be asked this question because your future manager would like to know what qualities you look for in your leaders.

Either way, the best answer is an honest one. Reflect on this and prepare to talk about what types of environments you work best in, and how leaders can help create that environment.

Some ideas to talk about are strong communication, active listening, honesty, psychological safety, empowerment, autonomy, vision, and more.

26. What do you think is the most important test metric, and why?

There's no correct answer to this question, especially because your chosen metric will depend your goals and the type of test you're running—acceptance testing will measure very different metrics from exploratory testing, for example.

To answer this question, prepare to talk about common QA metrics such as "bugs per test" which can be applied to many different types of testing, and what insight this metric tells you.

Also prepare to talk about the rationale for choosing a specific metric according to the goals of your test and the goals of the wider organization, the test environment, and how you might go about doing it.

For bonus points, you should check out Niall Lynch's piece on a QA metric that he has developed, called T2Q or Time to Quality—it can be applied pretty universally over any type of test, can be easily measured, and it tells you something meaningful about your test efforts.

27. What are some goals you have for your career?

You'll need to find these answers on your own, but to get some ideas, here's an article covering about managing your QA career.

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If you're looking for a resource on all things QA like monkey testing, smoke testing, writing test script, performance testing, how to conduct a quality audit, static testing, stress testing, negative testing, or what life is like as a QA analyst or a QA tester, then comment below and let us know what you want to know!

Jason Boog
By Jason Boog

Over his 15-year career, Jason Boog has worked as a QA tester, QA analyst, and Senior QA Analyst on video games, commercial sites, and interactive web applications. He spent more than a decade building out the QA team and process as Director of Quality & Client Support at a full-service digital agency.