What is a Quality Assurance (QA) Analyst?
A QA analyst is responsible for completing the last step in production – testing the final product meets the requirements of the user/business. This role is usually found in software development projects but you can also find positions in any industry where the final output needs to be tested for quality.
Salary for a QA analyst varies quite drastically. It differs greatly depending on the industry and the level of technical, domain or analytical skills that are required in order to test the end-product. That said though the average salary for a Quality Assurance Analyst in the UK is around £30,000 to £40,000. For our American readers you can expect to earn slightly higher (even accounting for exchange rates), the average salary for a Quality Assurance Analyst in the USA is around $50,000 to $55,000.
It is common that QA analysts are trained on the job as the role requires technical knowledge of the firm’s product which is not usually publicly available. Therefore with just a rudimentary understanding of testing processes anyone is capable of landing an analyst role in QA. This is why some roles can be very challenging to land as the competition is fierce.
That is why in this post we are going to look at the QA Analyst interview. Firstly we will look at some tips for you in your next interview, then we will go through the best (and worst) way to answer interview questions. And finally we will round off by looking at the most common interview questions you can expect to receive when applying for a QA Analyst position.
Ready? Let’s get started then…
Quality Assurance Analyst Interview Tips
Lean heavily on your experience. As mentioned before QA analysts often do not hold any QA experience when they are hired. Firm’s regularly ‘promote from within’ colleagues who show excellent industry or product knowledge. If you hold any experience within the industry or with the product type then lean on this when answering questions. Ensure that the interviewer knows that you are aware of what makes a quality product in their industry.
Talk about how important quality is to a firm. This applies even if you have never held a QA position before. A QA Analyst is responsible for numerous things but primarily ensuring that products are not released when they do not meet the required standards. You don’t need to have held a QA title previously to have participated in similar activities. Perhaps you have worked in a role before where you stopped defective products from going out? Or maybe you have instituted changes to processes that increase overall quality? When answering questions lean heavily into these experiences.
Know your audience. You should always research the organisation you are interviewing for. But what people don’t think to do is also research the interviewer and the hiring manager (if these are different persons). You want to impress the person making the hiring decision so you should research them specifically trying to understand what makes them tick and what they are looking for in a new employee.
Pepper your answers with technical terms. Quality Assurance has a number of technical terms, processes, systems, tools etc. For example when answering a question you can talk about how your team uses JIRA for defect tracking. Or you might talk about how you used Selenium for automated browser testing. These little things show the interviewer that you are well versed in the area and are not just full of fluff.
How Best To Answer Quality Assurance Interview Questions
Unless the question you are asked is a straight ‘up or down / yes or no’ style question then you are going to need to learn to describe, expand and elaborate on your answers. The best way of doing this is to follow the B-STAR technique for answering interview questions.
Answers using this method follow the below structure:
B – Belief – What are your thoughts and feelings with regard to the subject matter? – As a Quality Assurance Analyst you should have your own set of processes and testing methodologies that you tailor to each situation.
S – Situation – What was going on? Briefly explain the scenario that was taking place. – Try not to spend too much time describing the situation. The bulk of your answer needs to be about you and what you did so keep the situation simple to understand and even simpler to describe. Try to make sure the scenario directly relates to one of the responsibilities in the job you are applying for.
T – Task – What was your role in the action? Most of the time it is best that you are taking an active rather than passive role in the encounter – You are going for a Quality Assurance Analyst role (presumably if you are reading this) so the situation you describe should have you involved with the testing of a product going to launch.
A – Activity (or action) – What did you do? Detail the steps you took and why you took them. – This should take up the bulk of your time answering the question.
R – Result – How did everything end up? Try to use figures if possible (e.g. 99% of issues were resolved in first instance, End user feedback scores went from 4.3 to 4.8, Project failures reduced 50% etc.).
Remember though that the B-STAR technique is descriptive not prescriptive. You do not need to follow this flow strictly, go with what is best for your answers and that will allow you to put your point across and show your experience the best.
What You Should Not Do When Answering QA Analyst Questions
Do not avoid the question.
Do not describe a failure (unless specifically asked).
Do not downplay the situation.
Do not overhype the situation.
Do not say you have no experience with the subject matter.
Do not reject the premise of the question.
Do not have a passive role in the situation.
Do not give a one-sentence answer.
Do not overly describe the scenario and miss the action.
Quality Assurance (QA) Analyst Interview Question & Answers
How Did You Prepare For This Interview?
“I believe that it’s incredibly difficult to overcome a bad first impression. Because of this I always strive to never make one. That’s why for important meetings, or interviews like this, I make a clear plan of what I want to get from the meeting and outline the steps I need to take to achieve that goal.
So when I received the call about scheduling this interview the first thing I did was research your offices. As you are based in an area of town I am not familiar with I drove by here after work one evening just to make sure I knew the way. I also checked Google Maps to see what the traffic would be like at this time. Nothing worse than being late sitting in traffic after all.
I actually have a contact who works in your finance department, Claire, we were colleagues in the place I am currently working. I reached out to her to see if there was anything she could tell me about the interview process. We had spoken before about the company as a whole and how she talks about the company is one of the reasons I applied.
Following our chat I went through all of my work achievements and made sure they fully encompassed everything I have accomplished in my career.
I’m glad I took the time to prepare as I did because there was a lot of traffic so it was good I knew to expect that. Also talking with Claire helped jog my memory on a project we both worked on a few years back delivering a piece of financial software that I believe your company is in the process of deploying.”
Tell Me About A Time You Helped A Co-Worker Learn A New Skill
“I love working in a team. I truly believe that when a team is functioning correctly that it is greater than the sum of its parts. More work just seems to get done than would be if we were working independently. That’s why whenever I see a team member struggling I always reach out and try to help for the good of the team. I also adore the feeling when someone learns something as a result of my help. In a different walk of life I might have been a teacher!
There was one occasion when our company was adopting a more Agile approach to our projects. Moving away from waterfall and into a sprint based delivery approach.
I noticed rather early on that one of my colleagues, Jayne, was not grasping the fundamental idea behind the change and was still trying to operate in a waterfall approach.
I approached my manager to ask if we could support some additional training for the team on Agile so that we could all understand the philosophies. He agreed and we all began taking LinkedIn courses in the afternoons.
I reached out to Jayne during these sessions so that we could share notes and discuss what we had learned. I even offered that we should work together on a project so that we could bounce the ideas we had learned off each other.
That was all it took really. After we delivered a couple sprints in our project Jayne was a full Agile convert. She has actually moved out of the team now and has taken a SCRUM master position in a different department.”
What do you like to do in your spare time?
“I am a big reader of both fiction and non-fiction. I always like to have at least 2 books on the go; one for entertainment – most often some kind of science fiction (I am currently reading the Expanse series) and one for learning. I always like to be learning new things, I find it fun and also incredibly rewarding to learn a new skill. I even find it rewarding when I fail miserably – as I do often – as I always learn something from the experience, I suppose this desire to learn new things and improve is why I was drawn to testing, as I am constantly learning new processes and new systems in order to learn how best to test them.”
What motivates/energises you?
“Success is what energises me. This is why I prefer project testing roles. The ability to say that a project has been successfully deployed is what drives me during the more mundane run of the mill day-to-day activities. Recently I was able to close the book on a 30-month IT infrastructure deployment. This was a project that had been completely re-scoped 3 times just during the time I was attached to the project. But knowing that the project would eventually be deployed is what drove me throughout.”
What are your weaknesses?
“I have never worked with <insert testing tool or software> before and I see that it plays an integral role in your organisation. I have worked with <insert other testing tool> before and from what I hear it lacks a number of features present in <testing tool>. I look forward to the opportunity to use this new tool as I hear great things about it, I have also found a crash course online that I would look to take to get up to speed as quickly as possible…should I be offered the job”
Describe a situation when you were responsible for other team members learning a new skill?
“I’m a big believer in learning new things. I’m the person on the team who is always first in line whenever new training sessions are available for the team. I just think that the more you know the better you can produce.
There was one occasion where a training seminar was held for a new software that had been introduced within our department. The core functionality of the software was the same as what we used already so we were told that the seminar was voluntary.
I of course went along. And while a lot of the features were the same – as was expected – there was some new advanced functions that I thought could be great for our team.
I spoke to the training lead after the seminar and he sent me across some documentation and guidance on the new functionality. I studied through all the documents and realised that if our team was trained on this new reporting methodology that we could save quite a bit of time each week.
I positioned this to my manager who was delighted with the idea. And the next week I trained all of my team in this new skill. Some were reluctant at first because there was an element of coding involved – we needed to use SQL queries for the reports, but once they got the hang of it they were amazed at how much could be done.
The results were immediate. Our team was getting work done in twice the time. Time spent manually pulling reports was no longer. Some of the team went even further and started to develop more and more complex reports that would never have been possible without knowing this new skill.“
What QA process do you use in your project and why?
What will be your criteria for hiring team members?
What do you think is the best approach to start QA in a project?
What soft/people skills should a QA Manager have?
What is a bug?
What is bug leakage and bug release?
Explain the steps for Bug Cycle?
What is the difference between severity and priority?
What is the difference between Quality Assurance, Quality Control and testing?
When should QA start?
What is the QA testing life cycle?
What is a test plan?
What does a test plan include?
What would you include in an automation test plan?
What is a Test Strategy?
Are test strategies and test plans the same document?
What do you think are some advantages of manual testing?
What is the difference between functional and nonfunctional testing?
What did you do in your last project?
How do you prioritize when you have so many tasks?
Tell me about your most difficult project.
What are important characteristics for leaders in QA?
What do you think is the most important test metric, and why?
What is the difference between the QA and software testing?
What are the automation challenges that SQA(Software Quality Assurance) team faces while testing?
What is data driven testing?
What is Agile testing and what is the importance of Agile testing?
What is Ad Hoc testing?
Explain what should your QA documents include?
Tell me about a time when you have identified an opportunity for improvement within your processes?Interview Question: Tell me about a time when you have identified an opportunity for improvement within your processes? – Answer Tips
Tell me about a time you worked well as part of a teamInterview Question: Tell me about a time you worked well as part of a team – Answer Tips
How does your current job fit into the overall business?Interview Question: How does your current (or previous) role fit into the organisation’s wider goals? – Answer Tips
Tell me about a time when you had to make a decision without all the information you neededInterview Question: Tell me about a time when you have had to make a decision using only limited information? – Answer Tips
How do you handle disagreements within your team?Interview Question: How do you handle disagreements within your team? – Answer Tips
Tell me about a time when you have challenged the usual way of doing thingsInterview Question: Tell me about a time when you have challenged the usual way of doing things – Answer Tips
Tell me about a new skill or qualification you have learned over the last 6 months?Interview Question: Learn Something New – Answer Tips
What new skills do you hope to learn over the next 6 months?Interview Question: What new skills do you hope to learn over the next 6 months? – Answer Tips
Have you ever had to work to an extremely tight deadline? How did you navigate that?Interview Question: Have you ever had to work to an extremely tight deadline? How did you navigate that? – Answer Tips
Tell Me About A Time You Improved A ProcessInterview Question: Tell Me About A Time You Improved A Process – Answer Tips
Do you have any questions for us?10 Questions To Ask At The End Of An Interview (And 6 That You Shouldn’t!)