The story of how QA social security in Toptal failed

I did not find any useful information on the Internet about the details of the interview in Toptal. I share my experience. Perhaps this will greatly increase the chance of getting into the “top 3% of freelancers” for someone.

Catching flashbacks
Catching flashbacks

Shortly about myself

QA engineer. 12 years experience. I test, automate, manage, freelance.

Introductory about the stages of social security in toptal

  1. approval of your CV + questionnaires

  2. short interview for knowledge of english

  3. test task of 27 questions: ISTQB theory, two coding tasks, one SQL query

  4. technical interview with a tester (theory and practice)

  5. Further, according to rumors from Toptalovites, you need to work for three weeks every day for free for 6 hours on a test project.

  6. According to the same rumors, the cherry on the cake is the final social security for the analysis of the work done.

If you successfully passed all the stages, you get the right to look for a job on the Toptal exchange. If you sorted everything out within 20-30 days and then promptly found your first project, they will give you a $500 bonus.

My experience

I signed up for this adventure without knowing any details. Didn’t prepare for anything. I did everything aimlessly and watched where it would lead me.

I had an updated resume that I used to apply for jobs. He sent him. + filled out the questionnaire. The questions were from the series: why did you decide to come to us? What are the benefits of freelancing? What are the downsides? What is the most important thing when working remotely?

My application was rejected immediately. They said to come in half a year. Official reason: there will be no project for you.

After a couple of weeks, the managers changed their minds and contacted me by mail. They said that they want to introduce me, as there are projects. We were asked to complete the questionnaire again.

Filled out. A familiar letter immediately returned: to come in half a year.

I angrily texted my manager. He scolded their inadequate processes. The manager apologized. Fixed everything. I was assigned the first social security.

I would like to note the moment that the applicant will constantly be urged in an unpleasant frame of communication. Like, if the candidate does not choose a slot for the next three days, then Toptal will lock the account for half a year.

If a person is late for a second for an interview, it will be a failure and he will be given a penalty.
The accompanying context of the emails gives the impression that the candidate is being treated like garbage. And the process is absolutely mechanical and without life. Based on the reviews I googled, this impression is massive. I have not seen this with competitors.

I pass to the second stage. Video call screening for English proficiency was ridiculous. She spoke to me in a fluent American-looking European. Zero interest. She chattered her lines while reading from the screen. The accent is completely understandable.

I said “hello” once, “uh-huh” three times, “from google review” once. The latter is the answer to the question “how did you find out about Toptal?” “Bye-bye” (bye-bye) flew away into silence. The woman on the other end of the line quickly disconnected, not even appreciating the parting phrase.

Next is the test task. It takes place without screen recording, camera, voice. A unique link arrives www.hackerrank.com. It cannot be used twice. So a test run to see all the questions and get ready will not work. You press start. Enter your details: first name, last name, etc.

The timer starts for 90 minutes. The task consists of 27 questions. Everything is ISTQB. There are also two coding tasks. You can code in your usual language (in my case, it was Java 8, they didn’t bring a fresh one).

A little less than a year ago, my girlfriend successfully passed the Foundation Level. Helped solve problems. From memory, she answered only a couple of questions. This is me to the fact that you need to prepare for the theory “according to their rules” as for the ISTQB exam and memorize everything. If you did not pass the exam yesterday, you are unlikely to answer without preparation.

I also fumbled the screen to my colleague through the cart. Smart person! Plus, there were friends in the chat room on the safety net. The collective mind, using the spurs of istqb and Google – mastered.
Looking ahead, it was impossible to use anything except the head. I will be asked further on the technical security service that I used during the surrender. I was stupid: I confessed that I have printed materials on ISTQB. I looked at them.

They replied that it was not possible. Like, Internet resources and any other resources, including printed spurs, are prohibited. But since I myself confessed, then they will forgive me.
The results of the test, by the way, are kept secret. I tried to knock out at social security. Didn’t share.
Examples of questions and answers to them that we have generated, I attach.

They were asked to prepare a detailed project for the technical social security with customized libraries for API and UI automation.

At the social security service itself, I was met by an old sofa, on which an Indian sat down with a laptop on his lap. The Asian was interested (or rather the questionnaire that he read and filled out) in my location, my experience, the questions from the previous questionnaire were duplicated (see the first stage).

-Where are you now?
-And how did you find out about Toptal?
-Why did you decide to join us?
-And how many years in freelancing?
What do you like and dislike about freelancing?
How many years have you been testing with your hands?
-And how many years have you been testing with autotests?
-Did you manage the team?
How many years have you been testing mobile phones? What about hands? What about autotests?
-What is your favorite framework?
-And from scratch, the project was deployed for automation? And on what framework?
-What is your favorite programming language?
-What libraries do you use in this language?
What is your experience with load testing? What tulles did you use?
– Were there any difficulties in completing the test task?
-What sources did you use? googled?
-Was it difficult to solve practical problems?

In general, the questions are much simpler than for a junior tester. All this happiness goes on video. The screen is not written yet. My interviewer, by the way, was a couple of minutes late. I began to doubt the relevance of the link. Rechecking – I managed to connect to it from the same browser twice.

Further practice. I fumble the screen. Hindu shared a link to a page with text. On it in English (your cap) is the most elementary task of UI automation and a timer of 10 minutes. You can ask any questions about the assignment.

In the assignment, they ask you to write a YI test:

  • open web page by link.

  • go to dropdown.

  • check that there are more than 25 values ​​in the dropdown.

  • handle the popup window.

  • then sort some table by age.

  • make sure that the first value in the sorted table is a person aged (if they are 65 years old, if they are younger, if they are older, it doesn’t matter)

But there is a nuance. I was banned from using Google. Which didn’t bother me at all.
But other than that, they banned watching any code. Even his own in an open neighboring class. You need to create an empty class in the IDE and write everything from memory. For me this is a problem. The last time I wrote a YUI auto test was a little over a year ago. For 10 seconds of a pause, the decision did not come to mind. I had to play by their rules.

I spoke about this difficulty to my interviewer. To which he said that there are no such rules and exceptions. The timer has started.

Having created a new empty class, I understand that without all the annotations the framework needs, I will get a NullPointerException.

Write something from memory – I don’t remember a damn thing. :)) I ran through my head about the necessary code to solve the problem. I understood what gaps in this code I will miss without peeping. Tried to whip up something. But he gave up.

On this social security ended. They sent a familiar letter: come back in six months. And they promised a penalty for re-registration.

In general, it is easy to go through this thorny path if there is information about how it will go. And, of course, it takes time.

Gather friends and solve together the test – easy. Learning a couple of lines of your code OR writing them in a physical notebook and putting them in front of the laptop is elementary. Having an idea about social security – you can easily prepare and cope!

If you want to apply: include up to 10 years of automation experience in your resume (if you don’t have one). Write in the questionnaire that you are only looking for a full-time position. And you will definitely be screwed over. Full-time automators are now Hot Position. And then, I suppose, it will be possible to search for projects in any direction.

My personal impressions: too long. Work for free for several weeks for an unguaranteed $500 – thank you. Very cold attitude and communication. Interviewers unemotionally reading questions would be better replaced by AI.

Spending a month of your expert time on this is not logical. It is more efficient to invest these resources in training. Or spend time looking for a cool project off the exchange. Or work for a UG project and exchange hours of life for money.

But, the decision is made by everyone. If you try your luck – good luck. After reading this post, you will definitely do it!

If there is someone who successfully passed the technical interview, tell us about the next steps in the comments. About the search for the first project. Interesting!

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One Comment

  1. Hi
    Thanks for sharing your experience.
    Maybe one question, perhaps do you have the link of the page where you were performing the live automation test task?

    Thanks a lot
    Have a nice day

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