Five Steps to Getting the Testing Job You Want

April 25, 2024

Kristin Jackvony avatar
Kristin Jackvony
Kristin Jackvony is a Principal Engineer for software testing at Paylocity.

She's the author of two books, The Complete Software Tester: Concepts, Skills, and Strategies for High-Quality Testing and Logical Fallacies for Testers by Kristin Jackvony.

Check out her free YouTube course Monday Morning Automation designed to teach manual testers the basics of test automation.

I’ve been in the software testing business for nearly fifteen years, and during that time I have interviewed dozens of candidates for testing jobs. I’ve seen it all: from the candidate who interrupted me every time I asked a question to the candidate who was so good I said we’d be insane not to hire her. So when I was asked to contribute a blog post to, I thought it would be a great idea to share what I have learned about getting hired as a software tester! Here are the five steps to making the best possible impression.

Step One: Know what kind of job you want

To quote Ben Stein, “The first step to getting the things you want out of life is this: decide what you want.” Testing positions are more varied than they were twenty years ago. What kind of position do you want? Do you really enjoy manual testing, but hate writing code? Do you love to code but find manual testing boring? Or do you love the variety of doing both? When you are unemployed it can be tempting to apply to every available job, regardless of the type, but this will only result in frustration, either because you won’t be qualified and won’t get the job, or because you will get the job but it won’t be the right fit for you. Figure out what kind of job you want, and then apply to only those positions that match what you are looking for.

Step Two: Have a good resume

Your resume is the first thing that a recruiter will look at when you apply for a job, and the people who will be interviewing you will also be reviewing your resume. So, it’s important that your resume send the right impression. Keep the following tips in mind:

  • If you have an Objective at the top of your resume, make sure it matches the position you are applying to. I have sometimes seen Objectives that say the applicant is looking for a software development position when they are interviewing for a software testing position. When I see this, I immediately assume that my testing job won’t be right for them.
  • Include keywords that match the words you see in the job description. If the description says the candidate should have experience with Selenium and Postman, make sure you include “Selenium” and “Postman” in your resume.
  • Make sure that your resume is free of typos and formatting errors. I once saw a candidate whose resume said she had “great attention to detail” with a dozen typos. Needless to say, she didn’t get the job.
  • Include metrics wherever possible. Statements like “reduced the number of service calls due to bugs by 50 percent in six months” make a really great impression. The recruiter or interviewer can see how you’ve made a difference through your work.
  • Be honest. Do not claim to have expert knowledge or significant experience when you don’t have them. I once interviewed a candidate who claimed to be a SQL expert on his resume. When I tested him, it became apparent that he couldn’t write a simple JOIN statement. He was not hired.

Step Three: Prepare for the Interview

It is very exciting to be invited for an interview, but that only means that you have impressed the recruiter. You now have to impress the interview team, who will most likely be comprised of software engineers and testers. You can prepare by doing the following:

  • Research the company. If someone asks you, “Why do you want to work for our company?” you should have a good answer, NOT just “Because I need a job.” Being excited about what the company does will make a good impression.
  • Brush up on your skills. Hiring an engineer is a significant investment, which means that the hiring team will likely be asking you technical questions. If the job requires JavaScript and MongoDB skills, make sure to review those skills so you’ll be ready when the technical questions arise.
  • Prepare good questions. At the end of the interview, you will probably be asked “Do you have any questions for us?” Having questions shows that you are excited about the job. Make your questions specific to the company, not generic questions like “What is a typical day like with this job?” For example, if the company sells a product, you could ask “What payment system do you use for your customers, and how do you test it?”

Step Four: Ace the Interview

Now that you have prepared for the interview, it’s time to make a great first impression. You can do so with these tips:

  • Arrive early, whether your interview is virtual or in-person, because being late to an interview can cause you to lose the position. If your interview is in person, allow yourself 50% more time than you think you will need to get there. If you live in an area with high traffic, allow yourself twice as much time. For a virtual interview, test out your camera and microphone beforehand, and log into the interview five minutes before the start time. This will give you time to fix any technical issues.
  • Dress appropriately. While most software companies take a fairly casual approach to their dress code, you should dress in business attire when you are interviewing. I once saw an applicant appear for an interview in a t-shirt, shorts, and flip-flops. He did not get the job.
  • Don’t talk too much. It’s easy to babble on when you are nervous. While it’s important to let the interviewers know who you are and what your skills are, try to be succinct with your descriptions. I once asked a candidate “Tell us a little bit about yourself”, after the other interviewer and I had each given a 30-second introduction. The candidate spoke for 20 minutes without a break!
  • Talk through hard problems. If you are given a technical question, such as a whiteboard challenge to solve, and you don’t know what the answer is, don’t sit there quietly with a scared look on your face! Talk through the problem. Share what you know. Make some guesses. The interviewers aren’t expecting your answers to be perfect; they want to know how you think. If you can show them how you reason through a difficult challenge, they will be more likely to want to work with you.

Step Five: Write a thank-you note

In all my years of interviewing, I’ve only received a handful of thank-you notes, yet they are so easy to write. Begin by asking the recruiter for the email addresses of your interviewers. If the recruiter can’t disclose the addresses, simply send your thank-you emails to the recruiter, and ask the recruiter to forward them to the recipients.

In your thank-you note, thank the interviewer for their time. Mention something about the company that you found particularly interesting. List the reasons why you think you’d be a good fit for the job. Then state how much you would like to work for the company.

If I had two candidates of equal talent interview for the same job, yet one sent a thank-you note and one did not, I know who I’d hire!

I hope that you have found these suggestions helpful. They are all very simple, yet taken together they can ensure that you have the best possible chance of landing the testing job of your dreams.


Here are some resources that might be helpful for further learning: