Webinar: Hiring professional testers

I recently started a discussion in the STC forum around hiring testers and hiring processes and must do’s and don’ts as the interviewer. A very similar summary as below exists there too, but I added some learnings from the process.
Huib advised me he was doing a webinar on the subject – so here are my notes and thoughts from the webinar. Maybe they will help some people out too.
Further discussions around the topic will have been held here after the initial webinar.
Based on my leanings from the webinar and the discussions on the forum and twitter I put together our first tester hiring pack and we had many application in no time at all to sift through. We did find the right person in the end and this webinar really helped.
Another tip I got internally from a colleague was to do phone interviews and be ruthless in those. Ask specific “must pass this question” questions and set yourself how many they must pass to be invited to the next stage of your hiring process.
This was hard but so worthwhile. I would have wasted mine and potential candidates time if I had not done this.

Webinar: Hiring professional testers:

Initial advice:
Look out for testers by profession vs professional testers. EDIT: This is so true. I had never even thought of this and it is not hard to spot who is who. So just ask questions if it is not obvious from someone’s CV and soon you will know who is a professional tester vs one by profession.

Check through CV properly and prepare relevant questions – let candidate tell you what they think is important about their career.
Consider asking for a cover letter – shows if candidate understands what the company is looking for, demonstrates something about them and also how they think they will fit in.
EDIT: One of the cover letters we received mentioned nothing to do with the job itself but only the person’s idea of where they want to go and what they had achieved. As a tip, always related your cover letter to the actual job ad and try to make an impact with concrete examples.
Do not be afraid to be very specific in the ad. Be very clear who you are looking for to attract the right person. Ask what is your problem you are solving and what do you need exactly to solve this problem.
You will be looking for the right mix of knowledge, skills, experience and attitude, so why not define the right mix specifically.
EDIT: I actually found this really difficult as I did not want to alienate inexperienced testers. We got a real mix of applications though, especially from different industries, so it was a successful ad to an extent. Next time I will stress having experience working in an agile environment more (if the ad was for the same position again).
A test challenge. If you want to hire a tester ask them to test something. Actual testing is just as important as thought process. Perhaps a more complex test could be sent home asking for a test strategy/issue report/exploratory test report/questions for stakeholders.
For me I would want to test the written communication. EDIT: We actually performed a live test in the end and I was amazed how much it told us about the way the candidate may approach a testing task or problem. I highly recommend this.
To see how someone works a life test could be performed during the interview, asking the candidate to talk through their thought process.
Outcome of these tests can show the strength and weaknesses of a candidate and how much mentoring they would need.
Test examples:
Test this brick – do they ask for mission statement? What is the brick for? What use cases am I testing for? Testing for purpose and context!
Requirement and Specification document – How do they match and how do they not? Add in relevant application. how do they match now and how do they not? Based on the documentation are there bugs?
Not important what a tester does but how! Do they collaborate – ask questions, think outside of the box?
Interesting questions/Ideas based on Huib’s 18 Heuristics:
How do you learn? – not important how but that they do.
What is testing to you? Do you have a testing paradigm and can you explain it? EDIT: We used this question and it was interesting to get the answers. This very much varied depending on experience of the person.
Need to consider the testing context – for who? What matters to stakeholders? Does the candidate consider the bigger pictures? What is the mission statement?
Testing is a human activity involving the solving of complex problems
“Software development and testing is a team sport! Only together do we create awesome products!”
Aware of fast paced environment – things can change at any moment and be different to how we expect them to be – does the candidate embrace change and is on their toes to find the differences?
Is the candidate aware of more than one testing approach? Different approaches will find different types of issues and there is no best practice but only good practices for the current context.
Estimation = negotiation – What needs to be tested in what time frame? What are the resources available for testing? What are the risks and the important areas to the stakeholder? Can the candidate communicate risks to the stakeholder and understand that 100% test coverage is never possible?
Uses testing tools wisely – knows when test cases and documentation is appropriate for the context in question. Is the documentation of value and will it be read?
What adds value?
Always learning and adapting to new ideas and processes.
Does the candidate have courage? Can they refuse to do bad work and communicate the risks of doing bad work adequately?
Is the candidate curious by nature? Do they have examples of going beyond the obvious to learn more, be it in private or work life?
Do they have good interpersonal skills that match the current team or are skills that will benefit the team ie. introvert and extrovert
The testing and technical skills need to be adequate for the job role. For example testers in some companies need to be a lot more code savvy than in others. What is the hiring problem you are solving? EDIT: I would use this question as the next start for writing an ad. It is great to focus on a certain skill set and make sure they tick at least 4 out of 5 must have boxes.
Is the candidate a perfectionist scared of making mistakes or do they embrace mistakes, wanting to learn from them?
Are they enthusiastic and willing to share their knowledge and ideas?
Extremely important as it is a small team and we are aiming to all learn from each other.

Another comment from myself to end on around certification. Nowhere on the ad did we state the ISTQB to be a must have or mention it at all. This led to some lazy applicants who really led with the certificate and kept pushing this in their conversation. When questioned if they knew of the controversy in the community around certification or why certification is good vs bad they didn’t know what to say. So certification doesn’t only make lazy hiring managers but also lazy applicants.


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