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Terracotta Interview
Questions

28 Questions and Answers by Ryan Brunner

Published March 3rd, 2020 | Ryan has over 10 years of experience interviewing
candidates in the healthcare, public service, and private manufacturing/distribution industries.
Question 1 of 28
What do you consider to be a good litmus test for when you would automate a test process for a new system versus testing manually?
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How to Answer
As your role with Terracotta will look to help further their automate testing processes for new systems, you will need to have a good sense for when automation makes sense and when it does not. Reiterate your sense for this to your interviewer by sticking to the high level response that repetitive tasks, as are common with large software companies, are prime candidates for automation whereas one time test cases are not.
28 Terracotta Interview Questions
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  1. What do you consider to be a good litmus test for when you would automate a test process for a new system versus testing manually?
  2. How do you ensure that you have a healthy work-life balance in your career?
  3. Do you have any unique skills or past work experiences that we can't see on your resume that would benefit the team here at Terracotta?
  4. In your experience in software testing, would you consider yourself proficient in both testing and debugging processes?
  5. What do you feel are the primary features and benefits of the Java programming language?
  6. What is one thing that really tests your patience when dealing with your coworkers?
  7. What SDLC models are you familiar in working with?
  8. What experience do you have in the different types of software maintenance?
  9. Do you have experience working with different CASE tools? If so, what do you have experience with?
  10. What software analysis and design tools do you have familiarity working with?
  11. Do you consider yourself stronger in C++, C#, Java, or Python?
  12. Terracotta embraces an Agile environment. Explain your experience in Agile methodologies and why you think it is important.
  13. What methods do you use to stay up-to-date on the latest trends in tech?
  14. Our cloud computing at Terracotta requires our experts to take proper security measures in their work. What security measures are you familiar with utilizing in a cloud platform?
  15. What unique values can you bring to Terracotta in your user experience design skills?
  16. As you reflect back on your career to this point in your search for a new position, what would you say is your ideal work environment or culture?
  17. Do you have experience in developing white papers as part of your technical writing experience?
  18. Culture fit is important to us at Terracotta. How would you describe your personality?
  19. The next cloud engineer that we hire here at Terracotta needs to be able build a system that can handle a high amount of traffic. How would you test our system's ability to handle large amounts of traffic?
  20. If hired for this position at Terracotta, what leadership skills would you bring to our team?
  21. Give an example of a time that you used a universal design practice in your work as a UI or UX designer. Why was it important to do this?
  22. If you were asked to review a colleague's code that they had written, what key things would you look for?
  23. In your mind, when is monkey testing the most effective in testing new software?
  24. Do you have experience working with data in a cloud computing environment?
  25. What skills do you use to cope with the day to day stress and pressure on the job?
  26. Tell me about a time that there was a delay in the project and how did you handle that delay?
  27. How have you handled obstacles that you've faced during information gathering processes in your time as a technical writer?
  28. If you were confronted with a time where you wouldn't be able to meet a deadline here at Terracotta, what steps would you take when you made that realization?
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15 Terracotta, Inc. Answer Examples
1.
What do you consider to be a good litmus test for when you would automate a test process for a new system versus testing manually?
As your role with Terracotta will look to help further their automate testing processes for new systems, you will need to have a good sense for when automation makes sense and when it does not. Reiterate your sense for this to your interviewer by sticking to the high level response that repetitive tasks, as are common with large software companies, are prime candidates for automation whereas one time test cases are not.

Ryan's Answer #1
"Having been in automation in both manufacturing for many years and now software for the last three years, a common misconception among people is that automation can help improve any situation and that couldn't be further from the truth. The amount of time, effort and resources that goes into an automation process makes it ideal for repetitive tasks and tests that have multiple data sets. If a testing process calls for unique and one time process, it would make the most sense to run that process manually."
Ryan's Answer #2
"I"n my current position, most of the automation testing that I design is in program sanity testing. These automated tests work great because they run on similar systems following changes in code to ensure that no bugs remain in the system. If our group of engineers are working on unique, one off type projects, my automation processes are not utilized."
2.
How do you ensure that you have a healthy work-life balance in your career?
In the fast paced world in software and technology development, heavy work loads and potential on-call duties have created a lot of burnout in professionals. Your interviewer is looking to hear that you are cognizant of the risks of burnout and that you do what is necessary to maintain your own personal health and well being and that of your family as well. While you can use this time to talk about personal interests or hobbies outside of work, try to focus on how these items help keep you refreshed for the work that you'll be doing for Terracotta.

Ryan's Answer #1
"As I am passionate about my career as a UX designer, I am also passionate about my family. Any moments outside of work are spent coaching my kids traveling baseball teams in the summer months and then spending as many weekends as possible on the ski slopes. These activities help keep me active, physically fit and keep my mind centered on what it truly important in my life when work weeks get stressful."
Ryan's Answer #2
"Having watched many of my senior colleagues over time suffer from work burnout that has caused marital issues and health issues, I make it a priority to maintain a healthy balance between my work and my home life. My free time is spent in the outdoors with my wife, whether that be on the lakes and rivers fishing or biking around town. I consider myself fortunate to be considered for a position here at Terracotta because I know that you put a focus on your employees maintaining this healthy balance because the organization realizes how important this is to be productive."
3.
Do you have any unique skills or past work experiences that we can't see on your resume that would benefit the team here at Terracotta?
This question is providing you the opportunity to potentially set yourself apart from your competition for this position. To do just that, it will be important for you to make sure that the unique skill or experience that you discuss matches with a critical need for Terracotta and the position that you are interviewing for. Whether you talk about a unique skill or experience, your research on this job will prove vital in your ability to make sure that it impresses your interviewer.

Ryan's Answer
"In my current role as a data engineer, I have gotten the opportunity over the last five years to work with clients in many industries. One of the industries that I've worked most closely with has been the private insurance industry. This experience and my gaining of insider knowledge in the insurance industry would benefit me greatly if brought aboard the team here at Terracotta."
4.
In your experience in software testing, would you consider yourself proficient in both testing and debugging processes?
As a reputable provider of software, Terracotta relies on their software testing engineers to both test and debug their products when necessary. Make your interviewer aware that you are knowledgeable on both processes by briefly explaining each process as you've worked on them in the past. Then, talk about your openness to working both testing and debugging processes if hired for this position.

Ryan's Answer #1
"Yes, I definitely would consider myself proficient in both testing and debugging software. My current role that I've held for four years since graduating from college has exposed me to both processes. In testing, I use known conditions and predefined methods to test for expected outcomes to find errors within the system. I utilize testing prior to new software rollouts. The debugging process happens to already released software that has had issues and comes with unknown conditions and unpredictable outcomes. In this process, my goal is to find the cause of the error to fix it efficiently and effectively to roll an updated program back out to end users."
Ryan's Answer #2
"While a majority of my career has been focused on software testing, I am very familiar with debugging processes as well. If hired for this position, I would take the time to focus on debugging processes to bring myself up to speed while being able to hit the ground running on testing processes."
5.
What do you feel are the primary features and benefits of the Java programming language?
As a company that utilizes Java, Terracotta and your interviewer want to make sure that you have an understanding of the Java programming language and they do so by asking this question. Obviously a language packed with unique features, talk about the features that you can speak the most knowledgeably about and tie your direct experience to.

Ryan's Answer
"When I started working with Java three years ago, the first huge benefit was the fact that the Java syntax was based on C++. At that time, I had a great working knowledge of C++ and my transition to Java was absolutely seamless. The other amazing feature that I've come to appreciate with Java is how robust the memory management is in exception handling and automatic garbage collection."
6.
What is one thing that really tests your patience when dealing with your coworkers?
While on the surface this question may seem like your interviewer is trying to get you to talk negatively about a situation, it is really more of a test to see what can potentially drive you crazy on the job in a team atmosphere and how you handle those situations. In your answer, be honest about your pet peeves when it comes to coworkers and do so in a positive light. Then, expand on your answer by talking about how you handle those situations.

"As a person that values diversity and differences of opinion in the workplace, there aren't many things that grind my personal gears when it comes to my colleagues. The only real true test of my patience is a coworker that doesn't pull their weight in a team effort. When I've been in this situation in the past, I first seek to learn if the issue is a lack of training or knowledge. If it is, I take the necessary steps to help my colleague get on track. But if I find that it is due to a lack of effort, I talk to the person immediately in a professional manner. The sum is only as good as the effort of all of its parts and a team efforts requires everyone's maximum effort."
Ryan's Answer #1
"As a person that values diversity and differences of opinion in the workplace, there aren't many things that grind my personal gears when it comes to my colleagues. The only real true test of my patience is a coworker that doesn't pull their weight in a team effort. When I've been in this situation in the past, I first seek to learn if the issue is a lack of training or knowledge. If it is, I take the necessary steps to help my colleague get on track. But if I find that it is due to a lack of effort, I talk to the person immediately in a professional manner. The sum is only as good as the effort of all of its parts and a team efforts requires everyone's maximum effort."
Ryan's Answer #2
"Having been raised in a rural farm setting, I have always been a stickler for being on time and holding meetings to set lengths of time. While watching people show up late for meetings has bothered me internally because of how I am wired, I don't let it bother me on the exterior. We are all very busy in our lines of work and showing up a few minutes late is only normal from time to time."
7.
What SDLC models are you familiar in working with?
As a software engineer, you are very familiar with the software development life cycle. For this question, your interviewer is looking to hear what models you have worked on in the past. While there isn't necessarily a right or wrong answer to this question, try to show your flexibility to working with different SDLC models by bringing up your past experiences. Then, show you have knowledge of different models like the waterfall model or agile model. It is also a good idea to use this question as an opportunity for you to learn more about Terracotta by asking your interviewer which model they work off of.

Ryan's Answer #1
"During my training in software engineering and in my early career, the waterfall model was the standard. In this model, each phase of the development process happens in a set order and projects using this model are easily managed. But over time, as the development projects that I have led have become more complicated and intricate, I have implemented the spiral model. This model has allowed the ability of end users to give feedback early on and often during development and helps to build a more customized product to our customers."
Ryan's Answer #2
"In my current position with XYZ Company, my department utilizes the agile model in development life cycle. Since our products are so tailored to the needs of our customers, we get a working product very early on in the process and then I work hand in hand with customers to fine tune the software moving forward. It is a very effective model that has built a great reputation for our software among customers. I also have familiarity working with the iterative model and it has similar advantages to the agile model. If I were hired here at Terracotta, can you expand on what models you use here in your software development life cycle?"
8.
What experience do you have in the different types of software maintenance?
As a reputable company, Terracotta takes their software maintenance processes seriously and your interviewer is looking to hear that you are familiar with the four different types of software maintenance. Talk to your interviewer about any work you have done in the past with corrective, adaptive, perfective and/or preventative software maintenance. Use specific examples and make sure that your interviewer walks away from your conversation knowing that you understand the importance of proper system maintenance.

Ryan's Answer #1
"Being familiar with all four types of software maintenance, my most used method of maintenance in my current role is corrective. Based on bug reports from end users, I work through coding and logic issues to resolve issues in a timely and effective manner. In the maintenance I perform, I never hesitate to pick up the phone and contact customers to hear first hand about what they are experiencing. By doing this, they feel like they are an important part of the process and it reflects well on me and my organization."
Ryan's Answer #2
"In my current role, I'd definitely say that a majority of the maintenance work that I do is adaptive maintenance. Working in banking software that is used around the globe, I help perform system maintenance for changes in currency on a pretty regular basis. This work requires research and talking with end users to help adapt the programs for their use. If hired here at Terracotta, I also have experience performing perfective, preventative and corrective maintenance on software as well."
9.
Do you have experience working with different CASE tools? If so, what do you have experience with?
The world of software engineering has greatly benefited from advancements in computer aided software engineering tools. Because Terracotta is at the forefront of the industry, your interviewer will be looking to hear which tools you have experience with. Make sure not to concern yourself with providing a correct answer here, but rather focus on your flexibility to learn new aides when needed while explaining what you have experience with.

Ryan's Answer #1
"In my current role, I regularly utilize both diagramming and web development tools. The diagram tools assist our software projects by outlining the system data and components in a graphical form for us and this saves us a great amount of time while also being very reliable. The web development tools greatly help me visualize site changes that I am making because I don't have a deep background in web development. If hired for this position, I'd look forward to learning other CASE tools for prototyping, quality assurance and maintenance."
Ryan's Answer #2
"During my career and in my experience with CASE tools, most of my experience is in the lower CASE elements that focus on coding and testing the software after initial development. CASE tools have certainly made life as a software engineer more efficient and effective and I'd look forward to learn any new CASE tools if hired for this position here at Terracotta."
10.
What software analysis and design tools do you have familiarity working with?
As a software engineer for Terracotta, your interviewer wants to hear that you have experience in utilizing tools that you make you more proficient in your work. Dig back on your past experiences and talk openly about your experiences with the different analysis and design tools that are available to help you be better in the work that you do. In the end, make sure that your interviewer understands that you are proficient in the use of these tools and open to learning and using new tools as well.

Ryan's Answer #1
"As my career and experience in software engineering has grown over the years, I've come to really appreciate and utilize these tools that are available. A great example of this would be my recent education and use of Structured English for designing insurance claim software for a large auto insurer. The simplicity of the structured decisions in the program were a perfect example of a program that could utilize the tool and the end product ended up very functional for our customer."
Ryan's Answer #2
"I have great working knowledge in creating and reading data flow diagrams. To help with both our own sales staff and with customers, DFD's have been super helpful and I consider myself very proficient in creating them. I've also recently been introduced to decision tables to aid in product testing. I was working on a new system that involved some very complicated business rules and the decision table helped outline everything perfectly for our testing."
11.
Do you consider yourself stronger in C++, C#, Java, or Python?
Before your interview, do some research to understand what tech stack Terracotta uses so you can best prepare and highlight your expertise. If you aren't as strong in one of the skills you feel is necessary, be sure to explain how you've used it and how you are growing your knowledge to become better. Be sure to be honest in your answer, as the company will likely test your strengths.

Ryan's Answer #1
"In my last company, we had a bit of an outdated tech stack and used C# and .NET. I found myself fully immersed in those technologies, but had a strong desire to learn more and become more familiar with modern technologies and how I can apply that in my career. That's what has me so interested in this role. Over the last year, I've taken courses in Java and C++, which I noticed you prefer. I've become proficient in the skills and in side projects, applied my increasingly strong knowledge. I'm probably strongest professionally in C# as that has been where my experience lies, but my passion and dedication is on the Java and C++ side, as I feel that's the more modern alternative. I'm excited about the possibility of applying that knowledge in a role at Terracotta."
Ryan's Answer #2
"I am motivated and excited about this new opportunity because it will challenge me to grow in my (X) skills. I love soccer and enjoy spending time with my teammates. I am interested in continuing my education by studying (Y) to further my career."
12.
Terracotta embraces an Agile environment. Explain your experience in Agile methodologies and why you think it is important.
The interviewer would like to understand the depth of your knowledge in Agile. The interviewer would also like to know if you work well with team collaboration, are responsive to stakeholder needs, and can work well with team defined milestones. Give a specific example of your experience.

Ryan's Answer #1
"The majority of my experience has been in an Agile environment. For ten years I have been personally responsible for leading agile teams, and I have helped define team goals and milestones. This approach is important to me as I see how Agile methodology helps employees deliver better products in less time. In my current role, team productivity increased by 34% once we introduced an Agile environment, and our on-time project rate skyrocketed another 18%."
Ryan's Answer #2
"I especially want to work for Terracotta because I have friends who have worked here before with really positive feedback on their experiences. I am looking for a positive work environment where I can stay for a long time to come."
13.
What methods do you use to stay up-to-date on the latest trends in tech?
With technology constantly changing, employers want to know that they are hiring people who are committed to learning and growing. Be sure to explain to your prospective employer how you stay up-to-date and how you're committed to growing your knowledge as your industry grows. They want to know that they're investing in someone who is also investing in themselves.

Ryan's Answer #1
"I have leveraged a number of sources to stay up-to-date on my knowledge, including LinkedIn Learning and industry sites such as TechCrunch. I'm also active on Github where I'm able to work on projects to grow my knowledge. Quora is a place where I lend my knowledge to others and also read about topics I may not be fully versed in, or want to learn more about. Technology has really benefited me in learning more about technology and that excites me about what the future holds for further learning and development."
Ryan's Answer #2
"I am newer to my financial services career and have worked very hard to develop a strong portfolio this past year. Currently my portfolio is worth $$. What size of portfolio would I be responsible for at Terracotta?"
14.
Our cloud computing at Terracotta requires our experts to take proper security measures in their work. What security measures are you familiar with utilizing in a cloud platform?
As with any server or database storage, unique security risks are posed to organizations that have moved their data and applications to the cloud. At Terracotta, part of your role will be to ensure that all security measures are in place with the organizations data in the cloud and your interviewer is looking to hear that you are familiar with diagnosing security risks and taking action to prevent them with this question. Talk about your knowledge of the different cloud service providers and other security measures that you are familiar with taking in your work.

Ryan's Answer #1
"For me, the planning stage of the cloud deployment process really sets the groundwork for security in a project. In my current role, each project adopts a cloud framework that suits the project the best. This framework is the base for our security measures in the cloud. From there, I always look to utilize a cloud service that encrypts our data and take all measures to steer away from storing sensitive information within the cloud. Last, as with any project, I help implement strict testing measures to check on the security of our cloud operations."
Ryan's Answer #2
"In my current role, the biggest security risks that we face are loss of sensitive data and malware infections. To take all security measures possible, our first plan of attack for security is to ensure that all of our data is backed up locally with electronic copies of data. To prevent malware in all ways possible, we have implemented a strict password strength policy and we install anti-virus software in our own equipment and recommend that customers do the same as well."
15.
What unique values can you bring to Terracotta in your user experience design skills?
While your interviewer has shown confidence in your technical abilities to succeed at Terracotta as a UX designer, this question is helping them gain insight into your ability to see the big picture in the work that you do. As you think about the unique personal values that you would bring to the role, try and paint a picture of your work tying to the end user and how you can help make it more productive, enjoyable and satisfying for them.

Ryan's Answer #1
"I have really taken pride in my ability to add value to the business needs of the customers that I work with. During any design project, I take the time to work with end users to find their wants and needs out of the program. Then, as I create the UX design, I keep their needs at the forefront and do anything possible to exceed their expectations."
Ryan's Answer #2
"As you can see from my resume, I have formal training and experience in user experience research and I know that this would benefit the work that I would be doing here at Terracotta if hired for this position. I pursued this additional training in my career because of my passion for the customer journey in the programs that I design."
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