What is a Test Analyst? A test analyst is the last line of defence against errors going live into production. Their job is to competently and rigorously test the product (system, software, process, files, hardware etc.) to ensure that the completed product matches the requirements set forth by the user and the project.
Manual test analysts can expect to receive a salary of around £40,000 however should the analyst be skilled in automation they can expect this salary to increase to an average of £55,000. For our American readers you can expect to receive in the range of $60,000 for manual testing or $80,000 if you specialise in automation.
Competition for testing jobs can be fierce. You should always ensure that your CV is up-to-date, that you keep on top of industry changes and that your interview skills never go rusty.
That is why in this article we are going to look at the Test Analyst interview and what you can do to prepare. Firstly we will look at some tips for the interview itself, then look at the best (and worst) ways to answer Test Analyst interview questions and finally we will round off with some interview questions you can expect to get in your interview.
Ready? Let’s get started…
Test Analyst Interview Tips
Lean heavily on your experience. This applies even if you have never held a Testing position before. A Test 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 Test Analyst 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. Testing 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 Test Analyst 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 Test 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.
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 Test 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, 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 Test Analyst Questions
Do not avoid the question.
Do not describe a failure (unless specifically asked).
Do not downplay the situation.
Do not over-hype 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.
Test Analyst Interview Question & Answers
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 you good at?
“I’m not usually one to toot my own horn but when in an interview I suppose it is a must. I have a few attributes that I am particularly skilled in. I am hardworking – but I guess everyone says that – I am also an extremely quick study as you can see from my qualifications. But my greatest strength that I bring to the table is my experience with this industry. I have been working in this industry for over 10 years and have worked in a multitude of departments across all areas of the supply chain. There is not much about the processes of this industry that I do not know. So you ask what am I good at, I am good at knowing where everything fits together, why certain processes are the way they are, where to look for errors in the software, etc. The knowledge that you can only gain from doing. I will be the person on the team that everyone comes to when they need more information about their work.“
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”
“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.“
In your role as Test Analyst, what do you see as your key responsibilities and deliverables?
As part of your role as Test Analyst on this project, how would you gather appropriate information required to allow you to perform your testing?
What documentation and deliverables would you produce in your role as a Test Analyst?
How do you keep up to date with technological advancements in your field and in general?
Can you briefly outline one of the software diagnostic processes you use from start to finish?
What is your approach to working with a large amount of data?
Can you tell me about two types of software testing applications you use and rate the performance of each?
How do you deal with conflict that arises between members of your team?
What are the different types of software testing?
How do you determine the best approach to testing a new product or feature?
What is your experience with using automation tools for testing?
Provide an example of a time when you identified a critical issue with a product or feature and your solution.
What would you do if you identified a bug but couldn’t determine the cause?
If you were given access to confidential information about a product or feature, what would be your ethical approach to testing it?
Do you have any experience working with open source software?
When performing regression testing, what is the maximum number of previous versions of a product or feature you would test?
What makes you an ideal candidate for this test analyst position?
Which software testing method do you prefer and why?
What do you think is the most important skill for a test analyst to have?
How often do you perform quality assurance testing?
How do you feel about deadlines? – Example answer
“Obviously having a future date that something is due looming over you can be daunting, especially when it is a hard deadline. It is quite easy for people to get overwhelmed and get stressed. But I feel differently. I hold a begrudging respect for deadlines. I appreciate their importance as they force you to provide more structure to your work and can act as a motivator. Without deadlines I feel like a lot of work would just not get done.
To give you an example, last year I was brought in as Project Manager on an infrastructure upgrade project. This project had been ongoing for 3 years with no end in sight. There was no urgency within the team to get their work completed as there was no deadline to meet. Instead the team would prioritise other pieces of work over this project.
Eventually this pushed on long enough that a hard deadline did appear. This infrastructure upgrade became a dependency for another project of mine and it needed to be completed before I could go-live with my project.
Immediately on taking ownership of the project I created a project plan using the new deadline to create a work breakdown structure. Then I spoke with all project team members and stakeholders to advise them of the new deadline and the new plan that everyone was to adhere to.
In the end the infrastructure upgrade was deployed successfully. As a result I was able to deploy my other project on time also. So to circle back to the question I truly believe that deadlines are important as otherwise I do not believe a lot of work would get completed.“
Do you have any questions for us?10 Questions To Ask At The End Of An Interview (And 6 That You Shouldn’t!)