Four Tips for Assembling a Great Test Team
I was once privileged to be part of a “software test dream team,” a team that both management and development alike appreciated. As a founding member of the dream team, working for a manager with team-building talent, I was privileged to see how the team came together because I got to be in on the interviews and selection process.
What I learned was that you may not be marrying the folks you hire, but you are tying your success in with theirs. So it’s vital to be thorough in evaluating potential recruits and to hire slowly.
Ask questions during the phone interview that allow the interviewee to demonstrate that he’s done his homework. Many people apply for testing jobs that they aren’t fully qualified to do. Some people can be taught, but you must distinguish between those who will commit to learn and those who will give only minimal effort to the job.
If the interviewee can’t tell you even the Wikipedia-definitions of basic terms related to the job description, she hasn’t put much effort into preparing for the interview and probably won’t perform any better working for you.
Ask for a demo of skills during the in-person interview. If you need someone who can pull data out of a SQL database and the candidate claims to have this ability, give the interviewee a marker and have her write queries on a whiteboard. If the new hire needs to script or code, give him sample code and ask him to explain the methods, objects, or functions. This lets you assess the candidate’s technical ability versus his confidence.
Demo your product during the interview and pay attention to how the candidate reacts—and interacts. Engaged candidates make logical comments, ask pertinent questions, and respond to statements you make. Consider this a sample of how they might interact with product managers or developers during a sprint-planning meeting.
Understand that personality is a double-edged sword. Nuances of personality are often evidenced throughout an interview process. A candidate with strong programming ability may be great at diving headlong into tool development but might lack finesse in dealing with project managers.
Another candidate may flourish with details but miss the big picture. Having a diversity of minds often generates creative solutions in testing, so be open to hiring a variety of people. But, before putting an offer on the table, weigh the impact their personality will have on the team and the job you need to accomplish.