Finding the right help...
Since there seems to be much being made about getting employees, on this site and in conversations I have had with people recently, I'll add my two cents about this. I'll try to put it in some kind of order, but its going to be difficult, so bear with me if I go out of order. Since I usually started as the first person in QA it was easy for me to grow the group as I understood completely the space and the work, so I had a very good idea about what skills mattered.
- Getting the people in. Referrals, Referrals, Referrals.
I've never found an easy way to get people in, but the best first option is to use your local resources, co-workers who might have worked with some brilliant QA Engineer in the past or knows someone that may fit into the company really well. If you have been lucky enough to hire some QA staff already ask them if they know people who want to come work with your company, its also a way to check enthusiasm since people who WANT to be there will want to bring in their friends. Most companies offer referral bonuses, or some sort of compensation, for referring people. Also make sure you know where people have worked, if you get an applicant who worked with someone you have on staff, or is a colleague, see what they remember - it may be worth pursuing or not. But take in mind that its one persons opinion.
Although the only other option to this is posting the job on the company site, internet job site or to a recruiter and they all have their drawbacks. When you do it this way, clear time on your schedule to go over resumes, while its been nice to have HR go over resumes, unless you have an HR person who REALLY understands your needs you will either get resumes that don't fit or never see ones that might. In all these situations there are some options.
- HR - meet with the HR person or Rep who will be handling the job, make sure they understand the needs and what the job description is, sometimes I've had Reps who knew Development but not Testing. You get some odd resumes that way.
- Recruiters - they can be annoying, and we've all heard the negative stories, but if they are a good company and you get a good relationship with the company or its Rep they can be good. I always send back my feedback to the Rep after a meeting with a candidate they send, telling them the good and bad and why I reject or accept them. It's helped to give me better candidates, and if a company doesn't seem to get it I drop them, its not worth my time to get bad candidates in. I also go over the experience on the resume with the person, that way I know if the resume has been doctored.
- Company Site Posting - usually a small deluge when the posting goes up, that eventually fades away. This I will usually go through with the HR Rep, because some resumes give you an idea about what the persons communication skills are like and some may have the right skills but not written in a way someone with experience in QA might recognize.
- Internet Job Site - this will be a floodgate opening when it goes up, you may find responses from recruiters on behalf of applicants in this flood as well, keep it all in mind. Again, go over the resumes with the HR rep, but take time for this, as it will not be quick.
- Oh yeah, SAVE those resumes with comments too. I've had cases where I interviewed one person, then in another year got another resume and the name seemed familiar so I checked my files and we had rejected the person as a bad fit and not the right skills. In a year I sincerely doubted the person would change, so we did not bring them in for another set of interviews.
- The initial interview - phone or otherwise
I would always check the past few jobs and ask them to describe in more detail what the job entailed, trying to get an idea of what the person really did on the projects in the past and what their feeling was on the work. Wording on the resume may or may not match what the person really did, and I like to find that out in the beginning, but I also want to make sure the person can communicate effectively. Since QA is a lot of face to face discussions with Developers and others the person you hire must be able to communicate with your colleagues, and without much difficulty. I'm not picking on people with second languages at all, but if in speaking and writing you cannot understand what the person is talking about, especially in regards to a defect report, then no one else will either and it will make work difficult for others. During this interview I asked most of the questions as well, as I am trying to decide whether this person can come in and do the job, if the potential is not there I will not bother, there will be time for candidate questions in the face-to-face.
- The face-to-face
This is when I go into more detail on the job and really try to grill the candidate on experience, skills and test methodology. Depending on the level of the position I may ask more technical questions or just try to find out why the person wants to get into testing for a Junior Position. I also ask for examples, if someone knows how to write SQL I ask them to tell me some commands, how to select from a table, two tables, multiple tables, do a sort - just to make sure they have a grasp of things. There is also The Example. Taking an example of something that is under test, I give some vague description as just ask what they would do. See if it matches what we do, this gives an idea of mind fit. Then there is the Technical Example, something that really challenges them to use their skills, this can be anything from how to test a product to my latest favorite, how do you test a bank of elevators in a building?
- Group Melding. How is the fit?
During the interview process I have some members of the QA staff interview the candidate, this is to determine how everyone will get along, sure we may spend time with the candidate during the interview process and a couple of days after start date, but the day to day interaction will be with the QA staff. If there are going to be issues, find them out now, before you have a serious issue on your hands. Since there is only so much time in the day we broke out the interviews to focus on each persons special skill areas, one person may ask the more technical questions while another may ask the more process related items, use the strengths of your staff to your advantage.
Also I like to ask the same question multiple times, with different people, there should be different answers unless the person has been coached, in which case a warning should go up. It's happened to me in the past. Also figure out a way to end things early, if the process is going then a large warning flag goes up, you may decide to cut the candidate loose, plan for this.
This is always tricky, you want someone in for a short time, with only specific skills but do you really need to do the whole interview process? In a way I say yes, because this person will be there day to day, and if its long term you will get to know them like any other co-worker, in some cases the contract can become permanent so plan for permanence now; it may save you headaches later. But as with regular applicants I send my feedback immediately to the company during the interview process, while it is still fresh in my mind, in many cases the company has responded by sending Contractors better meeting my skills. There have been a few I have hired in the past, some I took on full time, but I had that option in mind on the interview and made sure the fit was good; some have been the best employees I ever had.
There ya have it, and while this has worked for me over the years, use parts on your own and in your own environment, my expectations and needs were probably different than yours. A lot of this is planning and managing the risk, items we should be well familiar with in QA, these are skills you can use in any endeavor, not just the latest project.