The Interviewer, interviewee and viceversa

What to do in an interview? (For the interviewer and the interviewee)

My name is vivek kumar. And I am from XYZ company

Generally the interviews start with the question “Tell me something about yourself”, so Ill start this talk with my answer. My name is Robin, and in my short career, Ive been a sales executive, teacher, manual tester, automation engineer and a business system analyst in my career. You know, sometimes a man’s gotta do a lot of things to earn money.

But this talk is not about me. Its about you as an interviewer and some of you as interviewees. Over the past 2–3 years, I have given and taken a lot of interviews. And after a while, I started seeing patterns. Or Anti patterns to be precise in these.

You see the core reason for this talk is that I am profoundly agitated, irritated and angry about the traffic in Bangalore. No, I am just kidding, but I am truly angry about the whole Test Automation Interview CIRCUS going around. Jokes apart, Don’t you guys, feel the same, when someone asks you to write file IO code in an automation interview. Or asks the difference between method Overriding and overloading, again? When someone asks me that , I tell him that first of all the spellings are different.

I believe, interviews now a days have become like stage plays. The candidate mugs up, Fibonacci series code, the interviewer mugs up Fibonacci series code, both say their dialogues and the selection is made based on looks or mostly communication skills. Wouldn’t you agree to that?

I guess, most of us need a smoke after these kind of technical rounds. (Take out a cig and pause for a moment).

See this is the kind of reaction, I am talking about. I don’t smoke, but in the last 5 seconds, every one of you judged me for free. You know, things like he’s a smoker, he’s gonna die of cancer. How can he smoke in a conference?

Just like an interviewer in the room. Snappy and based on the outer appearance. I am not blaming anybody, its in human nature but lets try to fix this in the long run. Tell me, will you hire a candidate who skipped college classes, learned calligraphy, went abroad and had minimal technical skills. Yup , I am talking about Steve Jobs. So don’t judge a book by its cover or a person with the cigarette in his hand.

The other bad thing one of my close friend used to do is play for the gotchas in the interview. For example, he would ask the Fizzbuzz question a lot. You know fizzbuzz problem right, the program must print Fizz for numbers divisible by 3, Buzz for numbers divisible by 5 and FizzBuzz for numbers divisible by both 3 and 5. And this program has a nice gotcha element to it. So,he would ask this program in mostly every interview he’d take and once the candidate would write the program, he would jump onto him like an eagle and point out the mistake. Ah gotcha. At that point, he would feel like the smartest person on earth in that room. That little gotcha moment. He would be like , yaay, you couldn’t do it or else, I would have to think of some other question. So this is something, which agitates me. Should interviews be like power play games? Should the interviewer be looking for reasons to reject the candidate? Or behave like an arrogant idiot, just like my dear friend?

Few days back, I was crossing the Silk board junction, while returning home. And as the signal was stopped, I was browsing facebook on my mobile. Suddenly, the cab driver next to me started talking to me in Kannada, something like havu, pamp something. I thought he might be asking me the way or time or something. Least bothered, I coolly said KANNADA ILLA sir, which sort of means I don’t know Kannada. At this point , the lovely lady in the backseat of his car, said to me that “the driver is saying that there is a snake under your scoo
 ter”. Horrified, I looked back and saw the snake. I opened the throttle on my two wheeler and bumped into the car in front to run away from the snake. From that day on I am a little less dismissive and a better listener. The fact of the matter is that, the more you listen to the candidate, the more you befriend him, the more he’ll open upto you and you’ll come to know about him.

Also, what I have seen is that roses are red, violets are blue, and some people love to ask JAVA questions in a selenium interview. Its ok to ask few java code questions, but you know what, suddenly it becomes a JAVA interview. And that’s when I feel like giving a high five to the interviewer, in the face, with a chair.

And you know what, it only gets weirder from there. People ask you serialization, deserialization, FILE IO and other topics, which you definitely skipped in the class or don’t regularly use in test automation. Seriously, how many of us have memorized the file IO code. Don’t we have Google for that. And for many other rarely used trivial language specific code pieces. Or do all of us really need to understand the entire MIT Data structures and Algorithms course in computer science?

We can avoid such situations, by asking simple contextual and practical questions. For example, I asked a lady what is the version of webdriver you are using and she mentioned version 42.1. One of those moments, when you feel angry, funny and sad at the same time. Or you can ask a practical problem, you’ve been facing in your project, the candidate can never come prepared with that and you might get some out of the box solutions. Or maybe a newer version of Selenium.

I guess Ive spoken enough about the interviewer and its time to move onto the candidate or the so called interviewee. See, when I moved back from the US to India and attended my first interview in E&Y, the interviewer asked me how much do you rate yourself on a scale of 1 to 10 for SQL. I had just returned from US, working for a top Bank, borrowing SQL queries from the DEV team ,I said 8 out of 10. So the interviewer asked me, “Do you know triggers?”. I said no. He said , do you know how to set up databases, I said no again. He finally said, Mr Gupta , you suffer from Dunning Kruger effect. I sadly didn’t even know, what was that. I learned 2 things that day. One was that I was definitely overconfident, and two , that you should under value and over perform, whenever you get a chance. For example, Somebody, asks you that how good are you on JAVA. Say, something like5.1 out of 10. You’ll sound mathematical, the interviewer might ask you an easy one and you get a chance to over perform.

The second important thing, I wanted to bring up is that as a candidate, please stop mugging up code. Please stop. It’s a vicious trap. Its as stupid as trying to by heart your maths book. You can memorize 2+2, but will it help you in solving other questions. Its as stupid as wearing pants on the head, right?

And with the advent of digital gyms like Hackerrank, hackerearth, codingbat, top coder, you can practice for as long as you like. These also help with the pre-interview tech test some companies take. You see i learned the hard way. I appeared for a company interview where they handed me a laptop and a question paper full of programming problems. They wanted me to code array rotation in a 2 D matrix. 2 years back, So the next thing i do is ask the HR for the bathroom and then disappear from the campus, without even looking back.

Abraham Lincoln had said that if you give me 6 hours to chop the trees, Ill spend the first 2 hours to sharpen my axe. Same goes for you, code daily in your project and out of your project.

Few months back, I was asked in an interview, have you tested responsive nature of a website. And I replied that yeah, Ive tested whether the website can respond to multiple users or heavy loads. And the interviewer smiled at me. Now, I know why he was smiling. So guys, as long as you are good on your basics, you need not worry at all

Seriously guys, there is no other secret to a great interview. Practice hard and be yourself.

You see job interviews are like dating. You try to look cool and sweet. Fake smile and sweaty palms. You’d even wait for their call back. And if you’re lucky, you’ll be on the road to a solid long-term relationship.

And don’t waste your last question guys. Many interviewers ask that do you want to ask anything. That’s the time, you ask him for his bank details and password. No, I’m just kidding, ask for your honest feedback. It will help you improve a lot. This reminds me of a lady, who came for an interview and at the end, when I said do you have any questions for me, she said looking at my phone- do you have the iPhone charging cable?

One last aspect before we say goodbye. Your interviews are portals to your career choices. Take wise decisions and don’t fall for the salary hike or employee shares. Its your life and your career guys, whether you want to get a good salary and compromise to work on manual testing or do you want to work only on test automation. You decide.

QA careers are a little understood topic. take the right decisions and move along the right path, because, it’s a one way train guys and life’s a long journey.