Wednesday, September 14, 2016

How I was interviewed as a tester

I've been a tester, test manager and again tester for a while. I think I know what I'm doing and I know I have a lot more to learn. I've been a restless soul telling all my employees so far that I will move after two years. Granlund expected me to last a year when I said two. And I stayed four and absolutely loved it.

As four years passed, I started thinking if I however should move. I've looked into two jobs, been offered the two jobs and ended up accepting one of them. The first I passed with a mantra "Quality of Life" - I had a lot of that with Granlund. No stress daily releases, great team and a supporting manager. 5 minute route to work. I concluded I would be a fool to give all of that up. And yet, I did.

For the job I passed, I was very close on accepting it. I went through the whole process of recruiting: meeting the recruiting manager, full day of evaluations with a psychologist, and even spend a full day training the extended team to figure out if I would like to work with them. The last thing was my suggestion, and we had a very nice and wonderful day of testing the company product in a mob format, finding bugs they were previously unaware of.

The reason I did not accept the job in the end was that I felt like the whole process was about finding reasons why I wouldn't be the right person or good enough. The recruiting manager knew of me from a shared past, and the questions I remember him asking were about my bad (past) habits of impatience. The psychologist was assessing how I would complement the team, but also pointed out that my "clock cycle" is fast and people may have hard time staying in my pace. The team training was about me seeing the team and the product, but when it came to the company framing the day, it was about "work sample from me". As if they were the only one making a decision when recruiting!

With the job I passed, I spent a lot of time thinking about what they could have done better. They could have compensated me for the time they pushed me around in recruiting process. Or they could have at least acknowledged that more (unpaid) phases to recruiting might protect them from bad hires, but also from really good ones. They could have made me feel they want me, not only that they could use me if I convince them on their points. They were not the only one needing convincing. And with senior software people, the employers might need to consider their approaches.

The job I accepted was opposite. They invited me for an interview very much the same way as the other, though networks. The first interview focused on figuring out how they can  build a job I would accept. They built the job for me, with a description that did not exist at that point.

I interviewed with the manager for the newly opened position, but our focus was on discussing ideas of what to do in the job. It felt more like an idea sharing session, and my focus was on assessing if I could learn to love this manager as much as I did my current one.

The HR interview seemed like an introduction to how awesome place the company is and how nice benefits they have. Sure, there were some questions on how I approach things and how I manage with the English language.

Then I interviewed with the team. It was a chat about stuff, with focus on "we just wanted to know you test and don't only manage". But I got to see that I would get along with them, just as much as the other way around before I needed to make my decision.

So I took the job. I started this Monday. I feel like I've come home again. I have amazing team, and interesting technical (and people) problems. I know I'm a piece to the puzzle that helps. On day 1, I got introduced to what we're doing. On day 2, I got the test environments up and running. And on day 3, I tested and found bugs; I shared ideas of how I'd want to test things we've created and got acceptance on testability changes; I got careful positive marks that we'd mob on different types of automation soon to bring together unit tests, system tests and exploratory testing because they just won't say no to things that make sense.

I'm feeling extremely grateful that there are companies who approach recruiting like they want to hire, instead of trying to figure out reasons why they wouldn't. The latter sounds a bit like testing: Look for opposing evidence. When there's none, we guess it's time to release.

I need to feel I'm wanted and needed. So for now, I'm just going to savor this. The energy of being wanted and welcome takes me a long way in doing the things I can help with. 

6 comments:

  1. Job interviewing is so stressful! You have my sympathies. I have been on ten on-site interviews in the past sixty days. I am a tester who codes ( 20 years of testing but only 2 years of work experience in Java 7). Everyone is looking for senior coders to fill their automation development roles. Your article is inspiring!

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    1. To get from beginner to advanced quick, I recommend mob programming. Community meetups mobbing with people better than you are a real boost forward. And while learning, you can build relationships with people whose recommendations change the ideas of what their companies should/could be looking for.

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  2. >>> The latter sounds a bit like testing

    The undesirable experience is like testing?? I assume that's not what you meant.

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  3. Yes, that is what I mean. In testing we look for opposing evidence for the good of the product. In recruiting we look for opposing evidence of the people for the good of the company. The difference is in how the opposing evidence is communicated (maybe) but in particular what the target is.

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    1. What I meant is that in the last few years, people, especially agile dev, have been saying that we don't need the negativity of testers. It almost seems as if you are giving the same message, i.e., we don't need to negativity of 'traditional testing'. Instead we should have more of what will work, where is there value, collaboration, etc.

      - Nilanjan (revelutions.com/counterfactuals)
      (can't figure out how to login to the blog)

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    2. I'm saying that the feedback about product can feel negative, especially if there isn't the regular emphasis on the positive too.

      In interviews, they _are_ assessing me. But they still need to make me feel like they want me (if they do) to get me.

      With products, testers are assessing the product. And they need to acknowledge both the good progress and the problems.

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