gregbo (gregbo) wrote,

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Apple phone screen

Not one of my better interviews, but I'll just post some highlights for the benefit of anyone who wants to know what a QA interview is like (specifically, for a Safari web browser testing position).

  • Asked to explain what I meant by some words I use to describe myself in the summary section of my résumé (the section right underneath the header containing my addresses and phone number). Tried to give convincing examples, but in general I feel funny talking about myself in that manner.
  • Asked about several projects I'd worked on. I had started to feel somewhat uneasy, so I didn't express myself as well as I do when I'm just talking to someone casually.
  • Asked to explain how I would handle approaching a developer with a bug I found but they couldn't reproduce. I wasn't really prepared for this question so I said I'd try meeting with the person with a sample of the bug in question and would involve the developer's manager if that didn't work.
  • Asked what types of testing I generally do. I think the interviewer was looking for specific terms, but none really came to mind, so I told him I didn't know the specific terms. He said it was ok to use general descriptions. Then I remembered some of my work with the eXtreme Programming (XP) at my last job, so I described the method of how we'd either get a bug report from a client or discover one in house, write up a story for it describing the problem and the desired functionality, submit it to the developers, verify that the bug was fixed, and close the story. Emphasis is on the member of the test group acting as a proxy for the client to make sure the bug fix meets the client's expectations.
  • Asked what a buffer overflow attack was. At first I didn't remember. I started to describe it a couple of times but stopped myself stating that I wasn't explaining it properly. Finally gave an explanation that was not the best possible one noting how the attacker can write past the end of allocated memory into locations where environment variables can be modified or a command can be executed.
  • Asked something about trust analysis. It sounded like the guy wanted information about covert channels, but I couldn't think of the name, so I tried to give an explanation of how some processes might not be able to communicate directly with one another but might be able to read something like the /tmp directory where they could pass information to each other via it. I used the word "signaling" instead, which is ok (according to Wikipedia) but not as good as it could have been.

I'll just note here that I didn't actually apply for this job. When the recruiter first contacted me and told me about the job, I told her that I didn't have that type of experience and that I was really looking for a network software development job, like the Bonjour project. She told me that she wasn't the recruiter for Bonjour. She also said that the guy who interviewed me had asked about me, so I figured I'd just give it a chance. However there seemed to be somewhat of a mixup because the interviewer seemed surprised to be getting someone whose primary focus was on development rather than testing. Of interest to some is that even with this knowledge, he put me through what he called "the QA interview process" (paraphrased) which suggests there is some kind of template for some candidates.

Anyway, to me this is more proof of when I answer questions incorrectly or poorly, it's a matter of not having done something in many years so I just can't describe it as accurately as someone who's been working on that type of project more recently. It's also an indication of a mismatch, in this particular case, but in my own defense I didn't apply for this position.

To relate this to dancing, Gita and I worked on more of the hustle routine last night. Some of the names she uses to identify the patterns are different than the names that were used when I first did the routine seven years ago. Also, the patterns don't all feel familar to me because they aren't ones I usually lead. In fact I was discussing this with another dancer friend of mine before my lesson. He had to take some time off from dance to take care of his mother. He's now starting to get back into it a bit and is finding it difficult to recall some things that came easily to him before he had to stop. Before his mother became ill he won several competitions and was considered one of the top dancers in the studio. So it is reasonable to expect that people will have trouble doing things they haven't done in at least a year, such as dancing or software engineering.

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