Wednesday, September 14, 2016

How I interviewed testers

My regular job responsibility is not to do recruitment. Recently, I've had two experiences of recruiting from completely different perspectives. First was one where two companies were considering to recruit me (or I was considering to be employed with them) and of the companies succeeded. The other was an experience to provide professional services to support recruiting. And that is what I wanted to write about.

The case was with a company that had interviewed several people and shortlisted two people that could be appropriate. The two people had gone through the regular interviews with non-testers. I offered to spend 30 minutes with each candidate they thought they would be interested in to pair test and give an assessment of how they approach testing.

My assessment report for the company included an hour of video of screen & us testing together, and a summary of their strong and weak spots as I saw them. We tested the company's application for a pre-selected feature, in a test environment.

I opened the session telling we'd work as a pair with the rule of "I have an idea, you take the keyboard". I had the idea first to introduce them into the application and most of the session I would be the hands, as their ideas mattered.

In 30 minutes, I got to see the testers flow on how they get started with something new. I got to see

  • if they would take notes / model things while testing.
  • if they see bugs. 
  • how they model technologies and focus of testing. 
  • if they were dependent on external answers or could provide theories of their own.
  • if they at the end of the session has ideas for making the testing deeper or if they were ready to move on to other features. 
The interviewing non-testers had little ability to assess this without the guidance. Personally I think having the non-tester interviews first (which were longer than these sessions) was probably the wrong way to do the narrowing down the candidates.

The "cultural fit" people assess in interviews means we often look for people who look like us, talk like us and appear to fit in. But it leads us to choose people who might not fill in the gaps we have. 

And what if the best of testers in the lot never got to the finish line because they were dropped out by people who don't have the necessary knowledge of what testing by someone who knows how to test looks like? 

If I ever again move, I will suggest testing together in my next interview. With or without bugs, you see the way the person models the application and the system, and if nothing else, the recruiting managers would need to get better at recognizing skilled testers. 

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