Feedback For Recruiters

I had a challenge of building a new QA team from scratch. At that time I just joined, and was learning about our products, who our target demographics are and how the release process works, etc. I needed to
find the right testers who would thrive in our environment. This company knows that for a successful software development endeavor they need to have testers as an integral part of their teams, and I appreciated this support.

After finding out what my budget was, I was contacted by the head of corporate recruiting and discussed what my requirements were. I knew that I needed sapient testers, the problem was how to translate that into a language that could be understood by recruiters. What I’ve realized from conducting interviews and making decisions on hiring in my previous job, is that it doesn’t matter how you frame your requirements in a job position, candidates are creative enough to tweak there resumes in order to get a match. My candidate requirements were not a far reach from the stock descriptions that the company already had. I just had to remove all certification requirements.

Once the position was put up across all approved job boards, the resumes started pouring in and true enough the first set of resumes were the creative ones. A lot of them talked about who their company were, but there were no straight answers to the kind of thinking process they got into when testing any given project. Out of the twelve or so resumes, I phone interviewed four and brought one in for a face to face interview and that did not turn out well.

I had another meeting with the recruiters the week after and gave them feedback as to why I ended up rejecting the first set of resumes. The crux of the feedback was that the candidates that I’m looking for need to have the initiative in searching for information, can clearly communicate what they need to test and champion their bugs. That seemed a little too much and ended up giving them a list of simple questions that they can use to quickly phone screen the candidates that match their keyword triggers. Here’s a sample question, “What kind of tests are done to make sure existing features haven’t regressed?”. Easy enough right? Yet about 40% of the candidates missed this one.

After seven weeks, and continuous conversations with the recruiting team I finally got one candidate who I decided to give an offer to. A chemistry major who also happens to have an MBA, that had experience in testing high powered microscopes and voice over IP hardware. By the end of the hiring phase, I asked the primary recruiter to read Jerry Weinberg’s “Perfect Software and Other Illusions about Testing”.

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3 Responses to “Feedback For Recruiters”

  1. Adam YuretApril 4, 2011 at 4:00 pm #

    One organization to whom I had emailed my resume replied instantly with a simple QA exam. It was a one line requirements statement and said “Write as many test cases for this requirement as you can.”

    I knocked out about 10 (I could have done more) and sent it back. They called me 20 minutes later for an interview.

    In the interview I asked them why they send the email test and they told me that far greater half of their respondents are incapable of completing that simple examination. They went on to describe interviewing people who didn’t know what a software development life cycle was. One guy evidently rambled about how he’s working on a machine that can be shot into clouds to make rain and block government spy satellites.

    Filtering your respondents with something simple like that seems like a decent idea.

    I can honestly say the most challenging and fun interview I had was with Jacob Stevens and Jon Bach at Quardev. That audition changed my entire job screening paradigm. I had always done something similar but it was nowhere near as useful. In the future I will always audition candidates before making a hiring decision.

  2. Perze AbabaApril 4, 2011 at 4:21 pm #

    Thanks for the feedback Adam. The whole point to the simplicity of the questions is that it had to be straightforward enough for the HR staff to handle without waxing poetic about what the job really entails. It’s more like a first line of defense before they hand over a resume for us to evaluate.

    The real work starts once the candidate passes the first set of screening and the resume is given to the hiring manager. That would be for another blog post. 🙂

  3. KateApril 7, 2011 at 5:45 pm #

    Thanks for anarticle!
    It was realy useful to read such simple but not obvious things about CVs…