Screening Candidates Via Video – good idea?

I stumbled across this interesting new tool and concept called Ziggeo via the Swiss Miss blog. I’ve seen something similar before; a tool for recording candidate videos and then reviewing them prior to any phone or face to face meeting.

In some respects I can see tools and services like this being quite useful, particularly if you are recruiting for someone who may have to do presentations, webinars, videos etc as part of their role. But I’d suggest caution with adopting something like this in full swing for your recruiting of testers and developers.

Not everyone will feel comfortable recording a video of themselves answering questions. Is it fair to put people under these conditions if they’re unlikely to ever encounter this type of work in the role you are offering? Will you end up losing out on candidates because they don’t feel comfortable? Is being able to record a video of yourself essential for the role you have?

It’s also a dangerous way to let your pre-conceptions and biases consciously or unconsciously play an effect before you’ve even spoken to them. You could find yourself rejecting people who fall in to certain camps before you’ve even got to know them.

Ever hear of the story of how women are more likely to be selected for orchestras if they do “blind” auditions? –  Do you believe you’ll not be party to certain biases when reviewing a video?

You could argue though that the same is true when doing Phone/Skype interviews and even face to face. Yep – there is some element to that, but at least you’re speaking to the person and having a conversation; they have more control over their responses and ability to change your mind.

The text on the Ziggeo page states:

“Have you ever interviewed someone and knew within the first 20 seconds that the meeting was a complete waste of time? “

Yes I have, but then I’ve had my mind changed by these very same people.

Nerves, poor questions, bad interview environments, mis-aligned expectations on both sides can all lead to wanting to reject candidates before you’ve got to know them.

First impressions make a big difference – don’t get me wrong, but so too does the way a candidate answers a question, or the attitude they have, or the connections you might sense during an interview. Much of what you see in the first impressions in an interview might not be the “baseline” or “normal” behavior of the candidate. Only when they relax do you start to see the real person.

Would a video show the real side of someone? Or the side that is nervous, uncomfortable and feeling really uneasy about the whole process?

However I could see this service being very useful for certain roles and jobs, and some people would have no quarms about the medium. I think it’s an idea worth exploring during your recruitment and it could give you some insights and pre-filtering to help you. It could also result in you losing out on good candidates.

What do you think?

Would you feel comfortable recording yourself asking questions?

 

Note: I should also point out that the service is also aimed at people finding room mates, baby sitters etc.

https://ziggeo.com

 

Opposite Views

At EuroSTAR 2012 I got talking to someone who had polar opposite views to mine on Testing and Agile implementation.

Despite his opposite views and the fact I could counter almost anything he said from my own experience I knew deep down inside that he knew he was right.

His solution, albeit not something I would label agile, worked for his clients. He was passionate about the work he does and the people he helps. He held different views, but was contributing goodness to others in the industry and more importantly, he was getting results for his clients.

He was helping people succeed.

No matter what my opinions are there will always be people who hold different opinions, ideas and experiences to me.

In software development there are very few process level ideas and actions that are black and white. It’s difficult to quantify, measure and then compare two different approaches as there are so many variables…like budget, people, product, customers, skills and experience etc.

One approach that works over here, might fail over there.

A lot of people avoid talking to people who think differently to them but I believe that only by opening our dialogue with others who think differently will we truly learn about ourselves and alternative ways of doing things.

Isn’t it in this collision of ideas where true innovation and learning comes from?

I had a lot in common with the tester I met at EuroSTAR 2012. We’ve kept in touch since and despite his continued promotion of ideas at odds with mine we’ve become good friends.

At EuroSTAR he told me that he had found his calling in life.

Who am I to say his calling is worse than mine?

I’m recruiting again. Performance Testing Specialist

Update – This role has now been filled. We are still recruiting programmers though – get in touch.

It’s not very often that I use my blog to recruit testers but I’m needing to reach out for this role.

I’m looking to hire a permanent, full time employee for our Basingstoke office.

Here’s the low down:

I’m looking for someone who lives and breathes performance testing.

I need someone to come in and take on our performance testing. You’ll inherit a great structure, environment and set of tests. You’ll be expected to run with it, improve it, change it, demand more kit if needed, build out more scenarios and have our test rigs running 24/7.

You’ll be expected to be pro-active in finding bottlenecks, performance concerns, scaling challenges and fail/over recovery issues. You’ll be expected to work with our scrum teams to performance test new features. You’ll be expected to benchmark existing scenarios/usage patterns.

You’ll be expected to automate as much of the setup, tear down and reporting as you can.

You’ll be expected to automate performance test runs off the back of successful product builds.

You’ll be expected to understand the performance of the system, interpret the results and articulate the outcomes to different audiences within the business. These will be high level coverage reports, component level reports and of course the nitty gritty performance metrics of the system under test.

You’ll be expected to perform a high level of exploratory performance testing and ask tricky questions of the product. You’ll be proactive in seeking out information on live operations and modeling this in your testing.

You’ll be expected to mentor and coach other people in the art of performance testing.

You’ll be expected to maintain and improve the test rigs. You’ll inherit a number of impressive environments but you might need to change them, improve them or expand them.

You’ll be expected to provide guidance on which tools are best to use with the understanding that we typically prefer free or Open Source. You’ll know about jMeter, monitoring systems such as Nagios, Cacti and NewRelic and environment virtualisation such as VMWare.

You’ll know about techniques and mechanisms to expand your testing capacity (like BlazeMeter and utilising Amazon Cloud services for example)

You’ll follow the industry news and trends, in fact – I’d like to think you’re setting these trends.

You’ll share your passion and knowledge within the business and your drive to seek out better customer experience when using our product will be infectious.

You’ll like to try new things, experiment and push the norms of performance testing. You’ll need to be able to code. Cleanly. And quickly.

You’ll need to be able to solve very tricky problems. You’ll need to know a lot about databases, networks, user experience, exploratory testing, communicating complicated/complex information and of course, performance/load testing.

In return you’ll get to drive forward the performance testing at NewVoiceMedia. You’ll get to work in a friendly and learning focused environment. You’ll get to work with a great team focused on releasing great software weekly to our customers.

You’ll get to work in an environment that encourages learning, personal development and creativity. We have ShipIt days, dedicated learning time, coding and testing katas, a large library and the opportunity to attend (and speak) at conferences. We’ve even got a chill out room with Xbox and table football.

If you feel you are suitable for the role then in the first instance connect with me via email:

jobs@thesocialtester.co.uk

but please read this:

  • Even if you don’t have all the skills and experiences listed above don’t be shy from applying – but only if you’re quick to learn,  want to learn and want to challenges yourself. Attitude and aptitude are important
  • No agencies please
  • There is no need to include the ISTQB/ISEB logos on your CV
  • This job is based in Basingstoke, Hampshire.
  • This role is a permanent position in the UK hence you’ll need to be eligible to work in the UK.

We are also recruiting for programmers too.

T-Shaped Testers and their role in a team

Stick with it….it’s a rambling long essay post.. and I may be way off the mark.

I’ve never been comfortable with the concept of a separate test team and associated “phases” of testing. I spent about 8 years working in these environments and kept struggling to answer questions like:

  • “Why are we involved so late in the project?”
  • “Why are there so many obvious bugs or flaws?”
  • “Why does the product not meet the spec?”
  • “Why do we always follow these scripts and assume the product is good?”
  • “Why don’t we use the questioning skills of tester’s earlier in the process?”
  • “Why are the tester’s skills in design, organisation and critical thinking not valued at the end of the cycle?”
  • “Why do we have some specialist testers, like performance testers, but a load of other testers who just do ‘any old functional script’?”
  • “Why does everyone keep complaining about this way of working, but do nothing about it?”

And a whole load more questions along the same lines.

These questions are common in the industry, check out any forum or conference and you will find many similar questions being asked, and a plethora of tools, services and consultants willing and able to solve these problems.

It’s taken me many years and much analysis to come to an idea about testing that I feel more comfortable with, and in truth, it wasn’t even my idea, but I’ll get to that bit.

The more people I speak to about this, the more I realise that others feel comfortable with it to. Comfortable because they are operating in these contexts, or, more crucially, would love to operate in a context like this. Of course, some don’t agree and many simply don’t care…but that’s another post.

I believe that finding bugs is just one aspect of a testers role.

I don’t think finding bugs is just the responsibility of the tester either.

I also believe that testers should use their skills in other parts of the project cycle, whether that cycle is two weeks or two months or two years.

The idea I am presenting here is the T-Shaped people idea. It’s not mine, I believe Tim Brown (CEO of IDEO) coined it in the 1990s to describe the new breed of worker.

If you imagine the letter T being a representation of a person’s skills (or as a role as I like to use it). The vertical part of the T represents the core skill or expertise. In testing I would naturally suggest this is the core skill of testing (of which there are many variations, and sub-skills). The horizontal part of the T represents the persons ability to work across multiple disciplines and bring in skills and expertise outside of the core skills.

The more I talk to people about T-shaped testers the more I hit a nerve with people. It really does seem to sum up the growing number of testers in the community. Those who are skilled testers, yet are skilled in a number of supporting domains.

Many of my peers in the community are T-shaped testers. They excel at their specific element of testing yet they bring in skills from other areas, or they use their skills to fulfill other roles within the business.

In start-ups or fast moving companies the ability to work across multiple disciplines has some obvious benefits.

One person capable of fulfilling a few roles reasonable well seems like good value and a good asset to delivering value. Even in traditional environments with more structured roles T-shaped people can be found serving multiple roles.

However, a lot of the time people don’t see themselves as contributing to something outside of testing (i.e. fulfilling other roles), or bringing other skills they have to the role. Some simply don’t have the opportunity.

Some great testers in the community fulfill other roles within their business. For example, without naming names:

  • There is a great test manager I know who is also a support manager.
  • There is a great tester I know who is also a product owner.
  • There is a great tester I know who is also a scrum master.
  • There is a great tester I know who is also responsible for market research for the company.
  • There is a great tester I know who also does all of the hiring interviews for **every** role.
  • There is a great tester I know who also runs conferences, sells advertising, builds his own product, markets his own product and consults to big clients. (how many different skills do you need to achieve that?)

These are just some examples. There are countless others.

Then there are those who are testers but have supreme skills out of work that aren’t utilised in their main role. We have musicians, artists, designers, writers, mechanics, engineers, carpenters, social media advocates, printers, net-workers and anything else you can think of that someone might do out of work. Could a company not utilise and encourage the use of these skills to help solve business problems? Of course they could.

Sadly, many people (not just testers) are pigeon holed in to their role, despite having a lot more to offer.

As a short side story I was ready to leave testing a few years back, mainly due to being unable to answer the questions I posed earlier. I was thinking “Is This It?”. What about the skills I had and the passions outside of work? Why can’t I use these? What job could I get that does use them? Would I have to re-train? Why are my other skills ignored in the work place? Then I found blogging, consulting, agile coaching, systems thinking and ultimately people management and it all fell in to place…..Anyway – I digress.

I believe that testers, actually – anyone, can contribute a lot more to the business than their standard role traditionally dictates. The tester’s critical and skeptical thinking can be used earlier in the process. Their other skills can be used to solve other problems within the business. Their role can stretch to include other aspects that intrigue them and keep them interested.

With Acceptance Test Driven Development, Test Driven Development and a whole host of other automation approaches comes the need for testers to be involved earlier but crucially, not so tied down later in the cycle running confirmation checks. Exploration, curiosity and intrigue are what drives testers in these environments. The checks are taken care of, what remains is to understand what the product actually does and provide insights in to risk, uncertainty, user experience and the markets (customer, end user, competition, industry) expectations of the product, plus the stuff we might not have thought about earlier.

They can help to discover what the product is meant to be, not just give judgment on whether it meets the requirements or not.

Finding bugs is what we do, but I don’t believe that this should be an end goal. Bugs are a side effect of discovering more about the product…maybe.

I believe everyone has the capacity to do a lot more towards the goal of shipping great products outside of their stereotype role. It’s something we’ve embraced here at NewVoiceMedia.

We have testers who write product documentation, are scrum masters, are building infrastructure to support rapid release, are taking ownership for security and compliance to standards, are presenting the development process to customers, are visiting customer sites to research how people are using the product, are writing social media content, are devising internal communication strategies, are doing agile coaching, are creating personas and are using their natural skills and abilities where they are best suited to help move the business forward.

We’re still working on the balance between roles and expectations, and the balance shifts, typically in response to the market.

Don’t get me wrong. Many people don’t have this opportunity but if you’re in a position to make changes then utilising your wider skills and the skills of those in your team could be a great approach to solving problems.

This is clearly not restricted to testers either. Programmers, product owners, support, sales, accounts etc etc – everyone is a T-Shaped person, or at least has the potential to be T-Shaped.

I think the future of testing is going to be a future of both specialists and generalists. There is always a need to have specialists in security, performance, accessibility etc, but there is also a need to have generalists; testers who can fulfil a number of different roles across the organisation whilst still maintaining a core skill of testing.

Being a T-Shaped person means having skills that can be useful across other domains. Having T-Shaped tester roles means encouraging testers to fulfil a number of roles. Learning the skills needed, or already having the skills in place (i.e. already being a T-Shaped person) means people can either slip straight in to the role, or they may have to seek out learnings, coaching and mentoring. And that’s where good management, teams and community engagement can come in.

I’m exploring around this idea right now, but I know already that T-Shaped people gives me a really good model to describe the testing and testers I feel comfortable with. The testing that I feel suits me, the companies I seek out and the markets I work in.

I believe testing is more than finding bugs; it’s about exploring the product, discovering what the product needs to be, discovering the market needs (i.e. A/B Testing), discovering what the product actually does, working out whether the product is suitable for the context of use, questioning the process, improving the process, helping to design the product, improving the product, helping to support it, helping to promote it and ultimately working with the team to deliver value.

And all of the above might explain why myself (and those peers who appreciate or demonstrate the T-Shaped model) find it so hard to recruit great testers (for our contexts), yet other managers I speak to can find “good” candidates at every street corner.

We demand more than just testing skills. We demand many other skills that complement a testing mindset. Skills that help us deliver value.

Of course, these are just my thoughts based on testing in my context. You’ll work in another context and appreciate other skills. At the moment this is just an idea, and like all ideas, it might be wrong. But I thought I would share it anyway.

 

Image courtesy of : http://www.flickr.com/photos/chrisinplymouth

We are all on a journey

At some time or another we all lose sight of the fact that each and every single one of us is on a journey.

Life is a journey. Your careers and jobs are just one part of that bigger journey.

 

 

  • Some people take more control of this journey than others.
  • Some people have more opportunities to take control than others.
  • Some people are further along their journeys than others.

There are many factors that affect the journey you are on.

These could include some of the following:

  • Your personality
  • Your location
  • Your cultural background
  • Your mindset
  • Your boss
  • Your company
  • Your family
  • Your desires and needs
  • Your passion for the job
  • Your peers
  • Your awareness of the industry
  • Your mentors
  • Your heros
  • Yada yada

The list goes on, and on, and on.

Some people are more open to new ideas, new challenges and new opportunities. This often gives them a wider choice of potential paths.

 

This opens up great opportunities, but it can also open up choices which are hard to make.

Some people are further behind on their journey than others. That doesn’t make them “rubbish” or “stupid” or “not part of our group”. It just means they are on a different path, are in a different place on a path and maybe they haven’t yet reached a similar path choice that you have gone down.

10 years ago I was on a path of scripted testing, no exploration and all of this in a waterfall death march environment. I’ve heard people say recently, that testers in these environments are “rubbish”…….really? Why?

I’m a better tester now for sure, but I’ve never considered myself “rubbish” – I’ve just gained wider insights and more experience from the paths I have chosen (or been forced down) in my career and life.

Some people choose alternative paths for a variety of reasons. That’s their choice, not ours. They may want different things from their careers. They may want different outcomes. They will have different personalities than we have.

Some people follow career paths that don’t seem logical, that wind and dip and move backwards.

 

In the end though, they too are on a journey. And that messiness and sporadic direction of travel may suit them well.

In the testing (and wider development community) we are all too quick to assume that someone is rubbish, or inferior, simply because they are on a different path, have not had access to the opportunities we may, may not show any interested in progressing beyond “enough” and may not even be aware of alternative routes they could take.

The work someone did a few years back is often still deeply associated with that person, even though their current work may actually be very good. Work some people do now may be of the same standard that we ourselves may have been doing 4 or 5 years ago.

We’ve grown and taken paths which lead us to now, they may do the same too. In 4 years time they may be doing the same standard of work as we are doing now.

Don’t get me wrong. There are testers who are better than others in certain environments. Or achieve higher marks using whatever yardsticks for measure you are using. There are testers I would hire and who I wouldn’t. But there are also good testers who are right for one context and not for another.

There are testers who, with the right help and support, could become outstanding testers. There are good testers who may not get that help and support…..

There are many routes and paths through our testing careers. The path you choose will not be the one I choose. And that’s ok.

It’s easy to point at someone else and say they are rubbish because they work in X way, or don’t have X skills.

It’s harder to acknowledge the reasons why they are at a certain point on their career journey, to establish whether there really is a problem with them being there (or even if it’s any of your business) and then to support, help and share to guide them down a path they want to go on.

Are certifications relevant?

I know many readers of my blog would suggest I’m a hater of certifications for Testers.

That’s simply not true. Despite my ardent fight against them I am pragmatic enough to realise that getting a job often requires getting a certification. And putting a roof over your head often trumps principles and ideals.

I also believe that a certification course, delivered by a competent tutor who has bucket loads of skills and experience, can be very valuable.

I just don’t like what they have come to symbolise in the market place. I don’t like how you DO NEED A CERTIFICATE to get a job (in most cases).

Where did it all go wrong?

I’m not here to bash Certification schemes. Use your own judgment and experience on whether you think they give you insights and learnings or not.

Instead I’m going to ask you a question:

Are certifications still relevant?

  • I don’t believe they have succeeded in making people competent Testers. This is evident from the number of certified people on forums and LinkedIn asking “What is Testing?” or “Tell me how many Tests I should have for X feature!” or “why is testing so boring”.
  • I don’t believe they have succeeded in creating a universal language with which to talk about Testing. This is evident from the fact most Testers don’t know what “action word driven testing” is or what a “Software Failure Mode and Effect Analysis” is OR the fact that I call it a Test Case you call it a Test Script. The big question here is “Do most Testers care outside of their own company and context?”.
  • I don’t believe they have succeeded in promoting the value of software testing to organisations and business. I still come in to contact with a vast array of companies who don’t test, don’t appreciate testing and don’t understand what value testing can bring.

So are they still relevant?

There was a time before the Internet when you had very few places to go to obtain Testing knowledge, training or awareness. When I started out I went to the British Computer Society, a few well known books and the ISEB foundation. The ISEB crowd certified me. I still kept Testing as I had before. I just felt slightly more hire-able.

Only when I reached out to the wider community online did I find a place to soak up information and ideas about testing. I started sharing ideas. I started to meet people who thought the same way that I did. I started to feel like Testing was actually interesting. I started to find people who didn’t talk about standards, didn’t speak in platitudes and marketing pitches and didn’t push certifications at me from all angles.

When access to information is restricted or impossible those that hold the information have the power. If you wanted that information you had to pay. If you wanted to see what the “industry” thought was a good standard, you had to pay to find out, and then pay even more to be accepted.

Social networks and the “digital revolution” has made that information (and a much broader selection of ideas too) available to the masses. Having to pay for access to information is becoming rare.

Yet we still continue to pay for certifications.

We’re no longer paying for the content; almost all of that is available online, for free.

We are no longer paying for the training as it’s possible to sit the course and pass without in person training. (There are also a vast selection of excellent paid and free courses available online and in person outside of the certification schemes.)

I believe the masses* are paying for the right to say “I have a certificate!!!!!”

In a sea of people all shouting “I have a certificate!!!!!” why would anyone pick you?

 

* There are some people I meet who sit the certification courses as just one part of their continued learning…not the only part of their learning.

Social Media alone will not get you a job

Judging by the swarm of testers trying to connect with me on LinkedIn recently it seems no-where is now safe from those who want a job.

99.9% of those who try to connect with me have never had a conversation with me (in the real world or digital). I see the same thing on Twitter, where I have less control over who follows me and also on this blog, where I delete a huge number of comments from people wanting a job.

It seems many testers are falling in to the simplistic trap of believing that social media will get them a job. It’s not surprising when there are a number of companies, individuals and organisations who are pushing social media (in the Testing world) as the way to land a job.

It’s easy to see why people would sign up for Twitter, follow some people in testing and then directly ask them for a job.

Social Media alone will not get you a job. Social Media, in a simplistic sense, is a communication (and publishing) platform/channel. It’s a way of networking, communicating and distributing content. Social Media may get you connected to people with jobs, or put you in front of people who are hiring, but you’ll still need the skills to see the application through (unless of course the hiring manager is not assessing you on anything). You still need your thoughts, ideas and the ability to articulate these clearly. Social Media alone won’t help you there.

(Note: I do know of some examples where simply turning up to the interview would get you a testing job, but I don’t really consider that testing, or a proper job.)

Here’s some thoughts on why I believe the message is too simplistic.

  • Some companies may see an active social media user as a drain on resource. After all, you should be working instead of tweeting…right?
  • Some companies may see an active social media user as a risk. “What are they going to say that could get us in trouble?”
  • Some companies may see active social media users as a boon. After all, their business may benefit from the thought leadership, experience or free marketing. They may even be working in the social space and demand people who understand and “get” social media.
  • Some testers wield their social presence with great skill and attention, yet aren’t great testers, but great marketeers.
  • Some testers wield their social presence with great skill and attention and are amazing testers, and great marketeers.
  • Some testers don’t wield their social presence well, and are bad marketeers.
  • Some testers sign up to social channels because they think they should and do nothing spam others.
  • Some testers sign up to social channels because they think they should and have no interactions, followers or conversations.
  • Some testers use social media as a platform to sell services and goods.
  • Some testers use social media to communicate ideas and further their skills and thinking.
  • Some testers use social media to build communities.
  • Some testers use social media to destroy communities.
  • Some testers just don’t get it and stay away.
  • Some testers are afraid of social media. Their personalities don’t gel with the public display of thoughts and ideas, yet they can be incredibly talented.
  • Some companies hire very well without social media.
  • Some companies go straight to their social channels for hiring.

I probably know someone who fits all of these, and a whole load more categories too.

I know a great tester who recently landed an amazing job and she isn’t on any social networks. Not even LinkedIn.

I know testers who are on social networks and actively connecting, but they can’t get jobs. They lose out to better candidates.

I know of some testers who have been offered a job directly through Linkedin without even being interviewed.

 

It’s too simplistic to say that getting a job requires you to be on a social channel and it’s too simplistic to say that being on a social channel will get you a job. It’s clearly not true in either case.

What get’s you a job (apart from “jobs for the boys” mentality) is proving to yourself, your peers and the hiring manager that you can do the job.

Social Media is no different to networking in person at Testing events, presenting at conferences and offering training services to build a wider network.

 

Getting in front of the hiring manager is easier with more connections, but these don’t have to be online through social channels. Many testers operate very well indeed and that’s purely from the old fashioned face to face networking.

Networking has been the key to getting a job (especially in hard times) for years, and it’s true that Social Media makes that’s easier now for the masses. But any hiring manager worth their salary should be recruiting for the person and their mind, not the number of social channels they are on.

Social channels and social media can help you amplify your thoughts, build your network, generate content and communicate with those who can get you jobs, but your skills and experience will be what ultimately separates you from others.

http://www.forbes.com/sites/lisaquast/2012/05/21/recruiting-reinvented-how-companies-are-using-social-media-in-the-hiring-process/

http://www.forbes.com/sites/lisaquast/2012/05/21/recruiting-reinvented-how-companies-are-using-social-media-in-the-hiring-process/

http://www.smartcompany.com.au/hiring/048837-the-legal-dangers-of-hiring-through-social-media-2.html

http://www.chicagotribune.com/features/tribu/ct-tribu-facebook-job-dangers-20120117,0,1257938.column

http://www.therecruiterslounge.com/2011/09/26/be-careful-when-using-social-media-in-hiring-decisions/

http://www.quarles.com/employee_social_networking_dangers_2010/

http://www.inc.com/guides/2010/04/social-media-recruiting.html

http://mashable.com/2012/02/11/social-media-recruiting-tips/

http://steveradick.com/2012/05/27/seven-real-ways-you-can-use-social-media-to-find-your-next-job/

http://socialmediatoday.com/fixcourse/564760/3-social-media-mistakes-you-dont-know-youre-making

 

Look behind the screen

The other week I found myself in an exquisite room with a group of like minded testers talking about testing. Exploratory Testing to be precise.

I’m not sure whether I’m allowed to spill the beans on why we were all there, so I wont..just in case.

Suffice to say though I was with some of the most interesting minds in the UK with reference to Testing. Throughout the day I jotted notes and took away a tonne of actions and things to research, but one statement from Steve Green (of Test Partners fame) really struck a chord with me.

We were talking about hiring testers and what traits/skills a good exploratory tester has.

Steve gave a great example of how many testers he meets are stuck looking at the screen and running tests to check/verify/test the capabilities and elements they can see on the screen. This is fine, for some.

For Steve though, he looks deeper than this.

He prefers people who look at the screen and then beyond it.

Behind it, under it, away from it.

 

For example, what happens to the overall system when I click X?

How is Y working?

What happens if I tweak Z?

I thought about this comment a lot and wondered whether this was actually an example of the difference between Black and White (or pink, grey, blue, tangerine, Alizarin crimson, black olive or …) box testing.

However, I think it runs deeper than this. I think that looking behind the screen is more about curiosity and intrigue (and therefore great testing?) than it is knowing about what the internal system should do.

It made me think hard about the different traits we all look for in a Tester and the words we use to describe these testers.

It was an illuminating day. I learned a lot.

What makes you less interchangeable?

I was told a really interesting story the other day about a company who remove all obvious identification from CVs during recruitment.

It works a little like this:

  • They get the CVs for an open job position.
  • Someone who is not doing the active hiring removes the candidates name, any company names (of past and present companies) and other personal information from the CV leaving just a set of skills, extra curricular activities (although social space names/handles were hidden) and supporting information.
  • The anonymous CV is then forwarded to the hiring team.
  • The team then review the CV with less bias and prejudice (or at least that is the aim of this process).

To make sure they were discussing the right candidates they would tag each CV with a unique reference number which was tied back to the actual candidate. It worked perfectly for them and they found that each candidate was reviewed on their merits and skills alone, not by any bias or prejudice in the mind of the hirer based on their name, age, sex or other personal information.

This company reported a much higher success rate for hiring. More “A” players were hired and less “bad hires” were brought in. It sounds like an interesting process.

But it got me thinking about the sea of conformity that is happening in the Testing community.

Let’s say 100 testers applied for a testing job and the above system was in place.

  • Would each CV be distinct enough?
  • Would the hiring manager be “floored” by any single application? Or down hearted by the sameness of each candidate?
  • What would be on your CV to make you stand out in the process?
  • Why would your CV be chosen?
  • How would you “win” during the CV review stage, rather than waiting until the interview? (believe me, I know many Testers who submit below standard CVs and aim to do the “wow” during the interview..but what if you don’t get to the interview?)
  • Would all applications (and therefore Testers) be interchangeable?

If the system had a bug and you got somebody else’s CV, would it be vastly different to yours? If yes, how? If not, is that not worrying?

In a sea of conformity the only way to escape is to be different.

  • What are your strengths?
  • What differentiates you from the rest?
  • What makes your application stand out?
  • What makes you less interchangeable?

Update : As Stephan pointed out in the comments…would you want to work for a company that hires this way? 🙂