As a project manager at XBOSoft, I, as well as many of the other managers here, interview candidates on a daily basis. Because it is really critical in our business “How to hire software testers” was the main subject in our recent staff meeting where we discussed what kinds of criteria or characteristics we look for when hiring to make sure we were on the same page and to share ideas. My top desirable characteristics included:
- Communication skills: To be a good test engineer, communication is a “must” skill.A tester needs to communicate with different people to understandassigned tasks, requirements and system features. Also, he needs to express his ideas to others to make sure they are on the same page. Without enough communication, the tasks can sometimes go in almost the opposite direction. Communication is an integral part of team work. A tester needs not only to gather information from others, but also deliver right information to his audience. For example, giving advice is a part of tester’s responsibility. A tester should think of the context and targeted listener or audience when communicating especially when the audience is not familiar with the topic. When talking to a candidate, besides evaluating if he can explain things logically, I will also ask him to explain something that I am not familiar with to test if he can express his ideas clearly.
- Confidence and candidness: I often ask some questions which are beyond the candidate’s previous experience. Some candidates will try to cater to my question and answer superficially (even wrong). But sometimes, the candidate will reply: “Sorry, I don’t know the answer to your question (Or I know little about this). My knowledge focuses mostly on xxx.”I like such candidates that are honest about what they don’t know and confident about what they do know. A confident tester is more willing to take on challenges and responsibilities. When you want an important or difficult task done, you want to assign it to a person with confidence.
- Learning from experience: “What have you learned from your previous work?”“What is the greatest improvement you have made during these years?” For these questions, I want to know if the candidate is cognizant of the value of their experience and therefore learns from it. A test engineer will test many different systems and use different tools in his career. Being able to understand the value of the experience they have gained in related systems and tools so that they can it apply to new challenges can greatly shorten the time needed to get up to speed.
Some of my colleagues focused on technical skills and technical abilities, but as you can see, my list has more personal characteristics rather than skills. Tools can be learned in a few months, but honesty and the innate ability to learn cannot. I’m sure that “how to hire software testers” will be an ongoing topic in our staff meetings as our services must start with the right people.