Why is it so difficult to find good testers?
Who would have believed that it would be so difficult to recruit decent test automation staff?
I have now been looking for someone to beef up my automation team for over 3 months and only just found someone who is worth hiring. I have not been looking for someone out of the ordinary; at least I don’t think so. I have been looking for someone who is experienced in test automation, minimum of 3 years, has written automation frameworks and who has a reasonable idea of testing principles. QTP experience was desirable, but the key attribute was ability to automate. Salary would not be too much of a problem for the right person.
I have had over 60 CVs to go through, about 20 telephone interviews and face to face interviews.
Firstly, the CVs. Many people putting themselves forward for automation roles have only used capture/replay. This surprised me as I had the, obviously mistaken, belief that the days of doing only capture/replay had gone years ago; it appears not and the old myth of capture/replay being the way to automate seems to be alive and well. And some of the salary requests were outrageous. Many CVs were from software testing consultancies or outsourcing companies and the level of knowledge displayed by these people was woeful which only went to strengthen my opinion that software testing consultancies and outsourcing companies mainly body-shop and are only interested in placing people not skills. But, I digress. Many CVs came from people who had just arrived in the UK from India, which has given me the impression that there is quite a few migrants coming this way; which was interesting but most of the skills were not up to the mark and the CVs were, generally, quite badly written – although, having said that, the person I am going to hire has only just come to the UK from India.
Secondly, the interviews. I find telephone interviews useful to weed out the obvious no-hopers and people who do not tell the whole truth on their CVs. Being an interviewee over the phone is as difficult as interviewing over the phone, but the number of people who just could not communicate over the phone was staggering. The ones I got in for face to face interviews faired not much better. I don’t much like tests in interviews, but for an automation role, a very brief test was given, to write a short VBscript to solve a common problem (finding one item from one array in another array, finding the maximum of three numbers) and I was amazed at how many either could not do it or got it hopelessly wrong – one candidate even wrote the “VBscript” in “C” and that was wrong! There were some that had blagged the telephone interview that soon came unstuck. Most had (or said they had) the ISEB foundation certificate and could not answer simple questions that ISEB poses.
Thirdly, the recruitment agencies. I was explicit in my requirements, I even provided some sample questions with expected answers for them to ask candidates before I even got to see the CV. However, the agencies persisted in sending totally unsuitable CVs and people who could not answer the sample questions – not one single agency has been good that we have used.
But the thing that really makes me think about this whole exercise is that there are a lot of people out there who don’t know how to do a testing job and/or an automation job. They have been working, most for over 3 years, doing a testing job. The skill level is, therefore, low. No wonder that some people think anyone can do testing. It saddens me and I wish I knew how we testing professionals could change that.