A handy guide to nailing your QA Specialist interviews
If you’re reading this, there’s a good chance you’re thinking of applying to Shapr3D – or may already have – which is really exciting for us! 🚀 This handy guide will help you nail the QA Specialist interviews with confidence.
What are we focusing on during the interview process?
Our recruitment mission is to build a world-class engineering team to develop an iconic, mobile-first CAD app for the 21st century. Our interview process is designed to help us understand each candidate’s values, engineering principles and experience, and to find out if they can successfully contribute to this effort in the long run.
What makes someone successful at Shapr3D?
The most important values that QA specialists at Shapr3D have in common are their commitment to lifelong learning and dedication to excellence. We are building a CAD software product, tackling one of the most complex engineering problems out there. We aspire to do things that no one has done before, and we aim to disrupt an industry that hasn’t changed in the past 40 years.
Solving problems in our domain requires in-depth knowledge of computer architecture, operating systems, and computer science – which we assess during the stages of the interview process. In each round, we give you insights into how we work at Shapr3Dand gather information about how you might fit into our journey going forward.
The tl;dr version of our typical interview process goes like this:
The first step is the application form. Here we ask you to include your CV, detailing your past experience and achievements. We’re also super interested in your pet projects. Depending on the position you are applying for, we might also include some role-related questions.
What kind of info should I include in my application?
Make sure your CV is easy to read and clearly lays out the personal contributions and achievements you made throughout each of your past experiences.
In your CV, quantify the impact of your work whenever possible (e.g. improved conversion rate by 20%). Tell us about the product/projects you worked on and the accomplishment you’re most proud of. Showcase this from a product and user/customer perspective mainly and don't focus that much on the tech details at this stage. We’re a product-driven company, so understanding what other products you built and how those impacted the people using them is important to us.
If you attach a cover letter, tell us why you want to join Shapr3D try to link your interest to our values, our way of working, or the industry. Show us how your interests are connected with Shapr3D and why you want to join us. Don't write a one-size-fits-all cover letter. Dig a bit deeper into your motivation by going beyond the stack or career opportunities.
2. Intro chat
If your skills and experience seem like a good fit for us, we’ll schedule a short chat to introduce you to Shapr3D and get to know you a bit better. You will have an approx. 30-40 minute Google Hangouts or Zoom call with one of our tech recruiters. You won’t need to prepare anything in advance.
We’ll talk about your experience in more detail, and why you’re interested in joining us. You’ll also be able to ask us any questions you might have and we'll align at this stage on possible next steps.
So, how do I nail the intro screening call?
Be ready to dive deeper into your past jobs and talk about the projects and products you work (or worked) on. Walk us through what you’ve accomplished and learned along the way, and what you’re proud of.
Tell us about your motivations. Why Shapr3D? Why this role and what are your expectations? How do we as a company, our product, values, and way of working match your criteria and interests?
Make sure to communicate your thoughts clearly and give relevant examples of previous experiences to showcase your skill level. Be ready to showcase your testing philosophy and how you live that and our values in your work.
Be practical and proactive. We’re looking for hands-on people with a problem-solving mindset. In other words, those with an ability to independently identify user problems and solve them efficiently – alone, in collaboration with others, or across teams.
If we’re aligned in the intro call, we’ll give you a take-home technical assignment customized as per the role you applied for. This test allows you to showcase your technical skills using your preferred tools. This homework also gives you very good insights into what types of problems a QA Specialist typically faces day-to-day at Shapr3D.
Based on feedback, candidates usually spend 8 to 16 hours completing the take-home assignment. We know that’s a lot! We appreciate your commitment and always make sure to pair it with detailed feedback on your solution, no matter the outcome. We are also conscious that you might wonder why so much, so early in the process? There are a few reasons:
We really want you to understand what typical verification tasks at Shapr3D would look like. This will help you decide whether you are passionate about the problems we try to solve here, and help you make an informed decision going forward.
We’re truly committed to building a world-class product in a highly complex industry. With that in mind, we believe that every QA engineer joining the team should be able to tackle a technical assignment to a satisfactory level.
Our goal is to make sure that we make responsible hiring decisions, bringing on board people who are deeply motivated about our challenges and mission.
Last but not least, the test solution will serve as a discussion base for a big portion of the tech interview. It’s designed to spur a meaningful discussion on testing principles – we are more focused on your QA philosophy than hearing back the ISTQB syllabus. We don’t believe in solving tasks on a whiteboard during the interview, so your homework provides the foundation for the facts-based assessment of your work. This also saves you additional preparation time for this stage.
Tips to navigate the take-home assignment stage:
Aim for a perfect balance between the attributes of a technical leader and a team player QA engineer’s roles in your answers. Generally speaking, we care a lot about how you solve process-related problems, and how you see yourself as a daily contributor in the high-quality and scalable solutions you envision. These are the criteria that are going to weigh the most in our assessment of your take-home assignment.
We also look for quality more than anything else. Make sure you are proud of the homework that you submit. And most importantly, make sure you own and can walk the team through everything you submitted. The team will challenge your solution to better understand the trade-offs you made, as well as your in-depth understanding of your solution and its possible implications.
4. On-site interview
If your homework meets our criteria, we’ll invite you to our office (now it’s remote due to the pandemic) for a series of interviews with potential team members and the management.
Two60-minute technical interview sessions – back to back: We’ll use your homework solution as a starting point to better understand the decisions you made while working on your assignment. We ask questions, point out possible failures, and test your understanding of the depth of your solution. The best you can do is be thoughtful about every decision you make and be aware of how your solution applies to different company setups. We’ll also go through various testing challenges that relate to your background and depth of experience. This can sometimes turn into lengthier discussions about certain points where you are asked to defend the solutions you applied in certain scenarios, or modify them to be applicable in different setups.
Two 60-minute cultural fit interview sessions – back to back: Half of the time is spent on personal motivation, including attitude, leadership, and product sensibilities. We are interested in understanding how you have performed in certain situations in the past, how you live our values on a daily basis, and what your product mindset is. All questions will focus on past examples, situations that can lead to either success or failure, which means that there are no correct answers. Here we’re curious about your principles, rationalization process, and ability to learn from past experiences.
Tips on how you can be successful at the final interview stage:
Homework review: We’re looking for a demonstration of a detailed understanding of your submitted solutions. Make sure there are no gray zones left out (e.g. areas that you are not familiar with, decisions that you’re not comfortable with). We want to understand your way of thinking and how you can use your skills and previous experience to solve problems, so we care a lot about your rationalization around the "why" part.
Depth of experience: Refresh your memory and in-depth understanding of the technologies you used for dealing with challenges throughout your career. Our QA specialists will dig deep into your background in software testing, test management, and test analysis and design.
Cultural fit (or the leadership interview as we call it): During the leadership interview, we want to find out if we really are a good fit for each other. We hold everything we do to our values. This is the stage where we make sure we'll keep these alive with new teammates. This is what makes the Shapr3D team unique.
The best advice we can give for the cultural interview is to come prepared with specific examples from your past that generally portray your own principles and values, or examples of situations where you demonstrated our values. Think of situations where you solved a complex problem, failures that changed your perspective, work that you are proud of, and situations or feedback you learned the most from.
Think of this stage as an unstructured conversation. We ask a lot of open questions so that we can learn a lot about you, and we encourage you to do the same!
We hope you found this guide to the QA specialist application process useful! And if you haven’t already, check out another useful link about our engineering team & culture here.