Mozilla – 2014

Neat. An open source company. I had been missing that.


After the day of interviewing at Apple, I had dinner with a good friend who I first worked with at Cygnus. After discussing the individual interviews, he asked if I were interested in working at Mozilla, the non-profit responsible for Firefox. He and I had worked on open source software at Cygnus, and Red Hat, so I was intrigued. He mentioned that his former boss at Cygnus, a truly great manager, was the head of QA, and that we had another couple of friends who worked there as well. I told him I would look at job listings when I got home.

I applied to five positions, and used his name as a referral. However, Mozilla told me that nobody was interested in any of the five positions I applied for. My buddy then told me that I should contact our mutual manager friend.

I managed to get that guy on the phone. We caught up a little bit, and then I told him that I had had dinner with our friend, and that he had expressed interested in my applying to Mozilla. VP of QA friend told me I should email this other manager, who, in the interest of not getting lost in all of the different people I talked to, I will call Cliff. I sent Cliff an email right before the winter holidays, and waited to hear.

Right after the holiday, Cliff put me in touch with a hiring manager on the Firefox OS team. Firefox OS was Mozilla’s attempt to write a phone operating system, whose apps were all based on HTML5/CSS. They were ramping up automation testing. I talked with that manager, and things seemed to go well.

The next person in line, a few days later, was a veteran QA engineer. We talked about testing methodologies, and the like.

I then talked to an engineer that I had worked with at Cygnus/Red Hat. We talked about strategies for automating testing. He described to me a rig he built to test the camera phone made out of Lego Mindstorms. That was fun.

Phone screen #4 was another veteran QA engineer. He asked me the following:

“You have 2 bugs that you think should prevent shipment. You are about to go into the final release meeting. How do you break the news?”

I basically answered that it was a situation which should have never happened. The only time this should happen is if the bugs were found less than 5 minutes before the meeting. If there are bugs in the product that serious, they should already have been discussed by management, and a decision should have already been made about them. Bringing it up in a meeting like this does nothing but alienate everybody from you. It might get the bugs fixed, but it might also get you fired. I don’t want QA to be a Product Prevention department; we are all trying to ship good software here.

We then scheduled an interview session in Mountain View at Mozilla headquarters. I had six interviews scheduled that day. My old friend who played with cameras grilled me about Python. The guy who asked me the above question asked me to find problems in some Javascript code. I don’t remember much about the other QA interviews. The last interview was with a Director of Engineering, a person who had joined Mozilla when it first spun out of Netscape and had worked his way up.

We had a good time. He asked me to do a programming whiteboard. I came up with the naive solution in about 10 minutes. I spent a long time making several performance improvements, analyzing complexity as I went. We discussed hash tables and GUIDs. We discussed C++ vs Java, and everything vs. Javascript.

This interview was scheduled for 45 minutes, but he talked to me for at least one hour and fifteen minutes. At the end he said,

I have one last question. Dev, or QA?

I had to pause a minute. Then I answered:

I am interviewing for this QA job. I know it’s there, and if I get an offer, I need the job. Is there a dev opening? Would it prolong the interview process?

He said:

Yes, it would.

I continued.

Assuming I did a good job for a couple of years, how hard would it be to transfer to a software engineering roles?

He responded:

That happens all of the time.

And so I told him that I was going to continue to apply to this QA role.


I was interviewing for several jobs at once during this time. I am going to wrap up the results of these in one post, after I discuss them all.


3 thoughts on “Mozilla – 2014

  1. Pingback: Google – 2014 – Recruited by Tech

  2. Pingback: War of Attrition – 2014 – Recruited by Tech

  3. Pingback: Google – 2015 – Recruited by Tech

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s