15/3/18 TestBash Brighton: Morning Workshop – How to Interview Like a Tester

Carrying on from my last post I went to my first workshop, which was “How to interview like a tester”, by Elizabeth Zagroba and Martin Hynie. Whilst I’m not responsible for interviews, there is always the chance that I get involved with the future, can give suggestions for how they are handled where I am employed, and perhaps might need them for myself in the future.


It started off with everyone pairing up, and randomly seeing if we were going to be the interviewer or the interviewee. I was the interviewee and told that I had to answer the questions to the best of my ability, but not create a persona and that this is a job I want to have. Questions were asked over five minutes, and what the interviewees didn’t know is we were trying to prove we were unqualified for the job. Discussions were held by everyone after and said how it felt awkward, it didn’t tell us much about the interviewee, didn’t give an idea of what the role was.

We then did a different exercise, but this time in tables of four. With 20 minutes split between us, we answered the questions and then again discussed it all. Everyone felt it was more open, had a better idea about one another, and allowed everyone to see if they would fit, both the interviewee into the company, and if the company would suit the interviewee.


Now that we had started to open things up between us all, we were given another exercise, showing how things can be done badly. Reversing roles from the first exercise, the interviewee was given a bag of Lego, whilst I as the interviewer was given a picture of what I wanted them to build. Unfortunately, we only had 15 seconds to describe what we wanted, we couldn’t show them the picture, and then neither of us could talk to one another or give any pointers. Halfway through the exercise we were allowed to show the picture of what was wanted. Some people restarted, others accepted what they had. As you can see below, this is how it went.


One challenge from Martin afterwards was why is it when offering technical tests we either make the applicant do it online, or put them in an isolated room, when in the workplace even when you are thrown into work alone you can still contact people to ask questions or look for help.

As part of this, we were intro introduced to the SCARF model, which I hadn’t heard of before, and given handouts to take away with us, which was nice. By following the model, it gets you thinking about not only what to do when running an interview, but also why.


We returned to a different pack of Lego, but this time for a different approach. Going back to our table of four, we had the interviewer and interviewee being allowed to collaborate with what they are building, talking and seeing the picture from the start. Meanwhile the other two were to be observers, one looking at how the interview was going and their communication, and the other (which I was) looking at how they were doing in regards to building the product. I found it tough watching but being unable to give pointers or ask questions to them both. Once the exercise was over, everyone with the same role was put together to discuss their experience, and I wasn’t alone in this. As you can see below, the results of their construction was much better.


For our final exercise we switched the groups around again with the observing pair and interviewing pair swapping. This time we were given an actual website to test, which was http://fixture-finder.herokuapp.com/. It was a site known to a few people in the room, including Vernon Richards who was in my group. I was given free reign of what to look at, how I wanted to test, with the main drive being that I had to explain what I was doing and why, including pointing out potential bugs. During the exercise we were told to formally raise bugs on a site they specially made, but due to problems getting onto it we ended up going retro and using sticky notes.

I enjoyed the workshop, and the approach that Martin and Elizabeth used for it, with the rapport that they have after working together showing in how well they worked for this.

That was the end of the workshop, and as a treat everyone got to leave with a pack of Lego, where I went for the green set which included a crocodile.


Next up, my afternoon workshop!


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