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Candidate interviews should include/have a debugging test

11 Oct

I had some experiences where some QA folks are not that quick or sharp at debugging problems in web applications, and automation test failures. Granted you should be intimately familiar with the application to better debug it, or with the automated test framework to know where and what failures happen.

But finding failure then tracking it back is a general principle that’s not that hard to do if you practice and do it enough. And in automation test failures, the exceptions or error message stacktrace is good starting point to backtrack against the test code. Combined with rerunning the test (in debug mode or not) and manually observing what happens, you can get an idea and track down the failure. But I’ve seen some folks not quite get the hang of it at tracking down the exact failures to an automated test. Or how to find further details of a failure when testing manually (by monitoring the AJAX, HTTP calls, or the javascript console logging of errors).

So it got me thinking that a “debug” test in an interview is useful for interviewing candidates. Purposely build or create a broken website/application and have the candidate find the cause or at least details to the failure than just that they seem something is broken functionally or visually in the UI (find out more why it is so). And for test automation. Same thing, purposely have a test that tests against old/obsolete functionality requirements that have since changed and/or a test that is valid but website/app is broken, hence test fails. Then have the candidate debug the test failure to figure out why the test fails.

Such questions will be useful in seeing how th candidate fares in actual work when debugging is needed. Or for QA candidates & manual/exploratory testing – to ensure the candidate can look into details on the failure and give that to the developer rather than just say I can reproduce and here’s what I see visually, I have no idea what might be causing failure underneath, you take a look.

What are your thoughts on this?

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