Recruiting Agile Testers
When recruiting Agile testers for scrum teams, we aim to have all senior testers, of course! However, we can’t always get what we want and often find ourselves having to recruit the newbies. When I run through my list of considerations and priorities, surprisingly, testing skills are the last thing I look at.
Personality and Communication Capabilities
Testers must have a strong willingness and ability to communicate with other members. For testing with clear specifications and objectives, communication isn’t all that necessary. However, with Agile, that’s quite the opposite. The user story might be blurry at the beginning of the sprint and require testers to make things clear. For this reason and others, there are then more meetings and discussion sessions. Testers have to talk when reporting status and problems in the daily stand up, and must participate in both the planning and retrospective meetings. When executing their daily tasks, they also need to communicate with developers often. Therefore, a tester on an Agile team not only needs good written skills to file defects, but also needs good listening and oral communication skills. Because these skills are so critical to a successful scrum team, personality and communication ability are the first priorities on my list.
Agile teams require self-organizing team members, meaning that they can organize tasks, roles, and responsibilities. As a corollary to that, I think that initiative is a critical trait. In each sprint, the testers should look at what they can do to help the team. At the end of the sprint, testers should find what needs to be improved and take action. Also, it is very important for testers to talk to the team when they find any potential issues or risks even if these issues and risks will not directly affect them.
Agile teams need testers to master multiple skills. They not only have to execute manual testing, but also need specialized technical skills such as automation testing, performance testing, database configuration, etc. This requires a willingness and capability to learn. Some testers want to just go home at 5 pm and this attitude probably won’t cut it.
For recruiting Agile testers, you may be surprised that skills are listed last. From my perspective, if any individual tester does not have proficient testing skills at the beginning of the project, the whole team can work together to help them improve and they can also work on their own. After a few iterations, they can raise their testing capabilities if they are willing to put in the time and effort to learn. Because of this, I believe that skills most likely will not be a problem in the long term. Testers can always learn new skills. On the flip side, personality can be impossible or at least difficult to change, and communication abilities and habits are also hard to improve in a short period. This is why I put the two at the top of my list when recruiting Agile testers for scrum teams.