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Hiring + recruiting | Blog Post

How to Hire a QA Engineer

Todd Adams

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QA engineers need to have strong analytical and problem-solving skills and a high attention to detail. This article will guide you through how to hire a QA engineer, including what to look for in candidates and sample interview questions. 

By the end of this article, you will be equipped with the knowledge of how to hire a QA engineer for your company. Let’s get started.

What is a QA Engineer? 

A QA engineer, or quality assurance engineer, focuses on ensuring that software and hardware products meet quality standards. In addition, they are responsible for identifying defects in the systems they are testing and finding ways to improve their performance, usability, and reliability. 

QA engineers not only test new products but conduct maintenance on existing ones as well. As a result, many tech companies are constantly looking for QA engineers to help them evaluate the usability of their products to serve their customers better. 

Larger businesses with various complicated systems often have team members with specialized tasks delegated expressly for QA engineers who attend to multiple issues within their industry, such as financial services or medical technology.

Why Are QA Engineers Essential to Software Development?

Quality assurance engineers are essential in developing software as they conduct tests and evaluate the results. This ensures that the end product is reliable, user-friendly, and bug-free. 

QA engineers focus on detecting issues early on during development and maintain quality control over changes made to existing code. In addition, they help prevent system breakdowns by ensuring each release follows established benchmarks, thereby reducing future maintenance required. 

Through their role in testing, they can provide invaluable feedback to developers regarding how a product works from an end-user perspective, allowing for more accurate modifications and enhancements before going live. 

With these dedicated professionals playing such a critical role in software development, the process would be much more efficient, leading to higher costs and lower levels of customer satisfaction.

Skills and Qualities That Make a Great QA Engineer

Being a QA engineer requires various technical, soft, and interpersonal skills to ensure success. It is paramount for a QA engineer to be attentive to detail when it comes to examining data models, requirements, specifications, and business processes. 

First and foremost, QA engineers need to be adept at programming, particularly the language in which the test automation framework is written. Ideally, they’d have a good understanding of the language the codebase is written in, like Node.js, Python, or Java.  If building a web application, they’d have a good understanding of web technologies like HTML / CSS, Javascript, React, Vue.js, and more.  This will allow them to write efficient and effective automation scripts within the framework they’re using.

QA engineers should fundamentally understand the principles of software testing, including the concept of the testing pyramid.  The testing pyramid is a framework that details the level of automation test to ensure testing coverage at every level of an application.  The testing pyramid is represented as a pyramid because width of the pyramid indicates the number of tests required to have coverage.  The height of the pyramid represents the “level” of the application, where the base directly interacts with the product code.  As you move up the pyramid, the number of tests decreases but the complexity of systems integrating and working together increases.  The types of tests are:

Unit tests:  unit tests are executed directly in the product code, testing the application at its lowest functional level.  

Integration tests:  the middle of the pyramid indicates areas where areas of the platform begin to work together across data layers, services, APIs, etc.

End-to-end tests:  end-to-end tests typically model the perspective of a real user, exercising the entire complete application as a real user would.

They also should have deep knowledge or test automation frameworks. There are lots of frameworks in the automation ecosystem depending on your product.  Web application testing frameworks include Selenium, Cypress, Playwright, and Smart Bear, while mobile app testing frameworks include Appium and Espresso.  Visual testing frameworks like Percy and Applitools help test front-end rendering.

Exemplary communication skills are essential for the identification of issues as well as the presentation of findings in a straightforward manner. Further amplifying their capabilities would be previous experience working on various operating systems and using test automation software. 

Sample Interview Questions for QA Engineers

When hiring a new quality assurance engineer, it is essential to ask the right questions. Asking the right questions lets you determine if the candidate has the required skill set and technical knowledge to succeed. 

Below are some essential interview questions to help you find the right QA engineer for your team. 

What methods do you use for creating and executing test cases? 

This question helps evaluate a candidate’s ability to create compelling test cases and execute them efficiently. It also gives insight into their understanding of different types of test cases, such as unit, integration, system, regression, etc., as well as their ability to identify which type of test case should be used in each situation. 

Describe your process for debugging errors. 

Debugging is integral to any QA engineer’s job, so this question will help assess a candidate’s ability to troubleshoot errors quickly and effectively. It can also provide insight into how they approach debugging issues with different levels of complexity.  

How would you rate your communication skills?

Communication skills are essential when working with other departments, such as engineering or product management. This question will help evaluate a candidate’s ability to communicate verbally and in writing effectively with other team members or stakeholders throughout the development process.  

Explain how automation testing helps improve quality assurance processes. 

Automation testing is a critical skill for QA engineers due to its ability to reduce manual labor and increase accuracy when performing tests on large amounts of data or complex applications.  It also allows for scalable testing processes as the surface area of your codebase grows.  Automation testing is table stakes for QA engineers today.

Have you ever encountered challenges while developing automated tests? If yes, what was your strategy for resolving them? 

Automated tests come with challenges such as false positives or incorrect results; this question allows candidates to demonstrate their problem-solving skills by sharing how they overcome these challenges when developing automated tests in past roles or projects. 

What strategies have you implemented to ensure all application requirements are met before release? 

This question allows employers to evaluate whether candidates possess strong organizational skills while evaluating application requirements before releasing them publicly; it also provides insight into how they prioritize tasks within the development cycle. 

How do you collaborate with developers, product managers, and other stakeholders to ensure that quality standards are met?

QA engineers work in a tightly integrated team, working with developers, product managers, designers, and release managers to ensure high quality products are released.  Strong collaboration with those stakeholders is critical to ensure an effective team dynamic and high-quality releases.

Tips for Onboarding and Training New QA Engineers

Once taking the plunge to hire a QA engineer, it’s time to shift to onboarding and training. It’s essential to provide them with enough information to get up to speed while also conveying the expectations your organization holds.

Define the Scope of the Training

The first step in onboarding and training new QA engineers is to define the scope of the training. What topics will be covered? How long will the training last? What resources will be needed? Answering these questions will help ensure the training is focused and efficient.

Create a Training Plan

Once the scope of the training has been defined, it is time to create a training plan. The plan should detail what topics will be covered, when, and what resources will be used. 

It’s important to remember that not all new QA engineers learn similarly, so the plan should be flexible enough to accommodate different learning styles.

Choose the Right Trainers

Choosing suitable trainers is essential to ensuring that new QA engineers receive the best possible training. The trainers should have extensive knowledge of the topics that will be covered and should be able to communicate effectively with trainees. 

Provide Hands-On Training

In addition to lectures and other didactic methods, it is essential to provide new QA engineers with hands-on training. This could include giving them access to a test environment where they can practice their skills or opportunities to work on real projects under supervision.

Evaluate Progress Regularly

Finally, evaluating Progress regularly throughout the onboarding and training process is essential. This will help identify areas where trainees struggle and may need additional support. It will also allow trainers to adjust the course material if necessary based on feedback from trainees.

Wrapping Up

A quality assurance engineer plays a vital role in any software development team. QA engineers are responsible for identifying and tracking software defects, coordinating testing efforts, and reporting test results to stakeholders. 

While the specific skills and qualifications required for this role may vary from company to company, there are certain qualities that all great QA engineers share. 

By keeping these qualities in mind while you hire a QA engineer, you can identify candidates with the potential to excel in this critical role.

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