You can say I’m late to the game but for my recent consulting gig I’ve had to use Skype quite a bit. I’ve had an account for several years now but I can’t say I’ve ever had an actual audio conference till recently. Instead of using my precious AT&T minutes to call into 2 hour conferences (ick!), I dial in using Skype- which is free! Actually, only calls to toll free numbers can be made using skype so as long as your virtual conference number is toll-free, you’re golden. Calls to land lines and cell phones can be made but you have to buy calling credits first. Skype totally owns iChat when it comes to AV sessions. The whole experience is very smooth and not to mention, the quality is excellent. If you have a Skype to Skype chat using a Mac’s internal microphone your mind will be blown- I guarantee it. If you’ve ever done an iChat AV session you will notice how much better Skype is. I’m referring to both audio AND video. Also, connection problems hardly seem to happen with Skype. Initiating audio-only and video conference sessions is super smooth and jumping in and out of sessions is very responsive. Anyways, you should check out Skype now.
Since starting up my business, I’ve realized that motivation will be one of the biggest obstacles I will face. Although we’re a team of 4 (plus 2 advisors), it’s sometimes really difficult to keep everyone motivated, especially when a good portion of your employees are ‘part time’ and everyone is still working their day job. Its even more difficult when your products haven’t taken flight yet. There is nothing tangible that we can be held accountable for. Being considered a founding member, there are certain things I’m responsible for. The most important for me is keeping everyone motivated. This weekend I caught the History Channel’s “Star Wars: The Legacy Revealed” and I couldn’t take my eyes of it. While Star Wars is one of my favorite films, I was never a fan of George Lucas persay. However, after watching this documentary, I was completely and utterly stunned by his determination in what he set out to do. He was hands on with every aspect of the film and it definitely showed in the finished product. Years later it is still considered by many as one of the best movie(s) ever made. I think there is something we can all learn for George Lucas, the passion he had for his art, and the way he was able to keep his entire team highly motivated throughout production. Check out the first part of the documentary below:
Quality Assurance. Often considered a luxury at many large companies and a lifeline at smaller businesses can undoubtedly make or break a product. Being able to successfully convey all of your skills during an interview and convince a hiring manager (in a short amount of time) that you are the PERFECT person for a highly sought-out position can typically be very difficult. I’ve so far held two QA positions in my professional career and I’ve interviewed for several others. While I can assure you that I’m not an interviewing guru (since I’ve both been hired and rejected from QA positions), I have collected some tips that hopefully you may find useful.
No experience? No problem!
Actually, no. Software QA jobs are pretty difficult to land. Hiring managers really take their time and usually interview A LOT of people . There are several things that can set you apart:
• Besides knowing the ins and outs of the QA process, knowing some programming languages will definitely set you apart. For those of you doing Mac testing, knowing a bit of unix, applescript, and automator can take you pretty far. I would recommend taking it a step further and educating yourself on a few more sophisticated languages such as C, Objective-C, and perhaps Python.
• Know a web language. I’ve recently discovered that a lot of businesses do not have a proper test tracking mechanism in place. While you can go down the route of setting up a custom filemaker database, however, I would recommend learning a good web language/framework. This way you can set up a good test tracking system that you or anyone else on your team can access from anywhere.
• Knowing someone on the QA team or at the company that can recommend you to the hiring manager will definitely give you a leg up on people who are probably just as qualified as you. Email or call this person and let them know you’ve applied for a job at their company. They may know someone who can put you in front of the hiring manager.
Test this “Mug” questions:
You can count on being asked to test something random. Perhaps something like a mug, calculator, garbage can, or a mechanical pen. You get the idea. Just remember that these questions are asked to see how you think and what your process is in cooking up a solution.
A good tactic for this is to draw upon any experience you’ve had in the past that may be related to the problem you are being asked to solve. I usually combine my past experience with some ad-hoc testing procedures I typically may do. You don’t want to focus too-much on the ad-hoc testing since you will most likely sound like a babbling idiot. Instead, highlight scenarios in your professional career where you may have been tasked with a similar challenge. Find similarities between the two problems and express how your solution worked then and how it can work now.
Always, always, always ask questions at the end of an interview. If when you are asked: “Do you have you have any questions?”, you should quickly assess your performance during the interview. If you’re unsure about your performance during the interview, just ask: “Why wouldn’t I get this job?” I picked this up from a good friend of mine (@tebo), who gave me this tip on a position I was interviewing a while back. I think this is a really good response to the ‘Any Questions?’/this-is-the-end-of-this-interview prompt. If you ask this, you’ll have a better idea of what the hiring manager’s thoughts are. You’ll also probably catch him off guard which is always fun.
If you believe you did well during the interview, ask more questions about the company and specifically the person you are interviewing with. How did they get started at company x? Who will you be reporting to? Just think of stuff to ask. Do not ask about anything about money. That should be the very last thing you talk about.
Hope this helps my fellow QA testers out there.