Ajoy Kumar Singha
This is my last blog post for this year. In this post I would like to make a point about hiring practice in IT industry specially in testing.

I have been a part of hiring process for my current and previous organizations. I have taken interviews for my project, my client, walk-in interviews and also for fresher hiring at college campus. What did I learn from these interviews? 

Most of the resumes are shortlisted by HR persons and then are sent to us for technical evaluation. Then we talk to the candidate to evaluate him. The evaluation process is generally a set of questions starting from “Tell us something about yourself” to some technical questions about testing/non-testing area. If the candidate is able to answer most of the questions fairly well, we select him or pass on to the next level of interview. If he cannot answer the questions – we simply convey – “You can leave for the day.”

This is a traditional way of evaluating a candidate for a job. Is there a problem in it? I seriously feel yes. Right from the short listing of resumes to offering a job – the system goes through some pre-conceived procedures/filters. I have seen many bad testers passing through these filters easily and many good testers, just because the filter itself is bad-shaped, get rejected.

Bad Shape of filters –
1. Resume Short listing – Resumes are short listed by non-technical people. I don’t know how most of the HR people collect the resumes and hence short list them. My friends’ resumes forwarded by me never got short listed though L. (It is important to have a good repo with HR guys if you want your friends to get a call.)

2. Just in time Hiring – Just in time hiring may sound good to reduce bench strength of the organization. But think of a situation where the person leaving your organization has a particular skill and you do not have a similarly skilled person in bench, you will need to hire from outside. I am not against just in time hiring. I am against initiating the hiring process late. When you know someone has resigned, why don’t you arrange to hire and replace the resigned candidate in the beginning of the notice period? Believe me, 95% of resigned candidates will not take back their resignation. Why try till last date to take him back? If you offer to give him carrots when he resigns, why did not you give that before he had actually resigned? Most of the organization will not allow its employee to leave before they serve their full notice period. But still these companies will want the employees from other companies to join them in short notice. 
Warning – The candidates who can join in short notice are actually fake employees or they are not working anywhere or they are too bad resources. Except, the only situation where he had resigned before your interview process started.
I have even received emails from hiring firms mentioning – “relieving letter not required.” What kind of ethics these firms are practicing? 
If you are forced to hire in short time span – you are bound to recruit bad/fake candidates. So start early.

3. Knowledge of the Interviewer – It is important to judge the knowledge of the candidate. But it is more important to know how much fit the interviewer is to judge a candidate. Bad interviewers just screw up a hiring process and the filters get more bad-shaped. 

4. Questions asked at Interview – If I list down 100 questions for software testing and commonly asked behavioural questions from internet and if I can remember them all, then I think I can clear most the software testing interviews that happens now a days. All I have to do is get someone who can give me answers for those questions and I will have learn like a parrot. I can just repeat the sentences in front of the interviewer and get the job. 

5. Candidates with Certification – Passing an IT certification exam is easy. Please read my post “Investigation on Certification”.  I am not saying certification is bad. I am saying certification has just become very easy and I know few guys who have never tested any software and still they cleared certification exams. It is high time we thought of other methods of certifying people. So don’t just believe that having an IT certification makes someone a good candidate for the job.

Need for a better hiring practice-
What are things that we can do as industry thought leaders in testing? (Sorry, I am not a thought leader yet in testing or any other industry. I am just a follower of good practice.) This is what I suggest – if you care to agree.

1. Follow a hiring practice that companies like Moolya follows. Ask candidates to test an open source product and send the test report. Brilliant process. What you will get is real tester with real result. Bad apples automatically get filtered out. However, this method will need discipline and ethics from the hiring organization. Also you will face challenges as a large service based organization to reach out to more number of candidates. Walk-in type of interview will need more planning and resources. 

2. Do not care about what is written in resume. Do not care about what certificate they have. Do not care about what educational background they have. Just care about if they can really test. Clue – Good testers are thinking heads. Challenge them with problems. See how they have solved problems in real life. 

3. See how passionate the candidate is about testing. Is it just another job (money earning machine) or he really thinks about testing? Ask him what he wants to do in testing or what he has done in testing. 

4. Do not discriminate people from another industry. Do not just throw him out just because he is from BPO, Medical sales or HR background. I am a Mechanical Engineer and had worked for a year in chemical industry before moving to full time testing. If you think I have done something in testing, then every other guy from other industry has a potential to do magic in testing. 

5. Do not discriminate people with gaps. We tend to filter out people who have gap period between two jobs. Investigate why there is a gap. I have seen many female testers who left their jobs because they got married and they had a kid to care about. Now that the kid is grown up, they can join back testing job. They face lots of challenges in even getting an interview call. I understand that those who have not worked for last few months/years may not be as smooth in working as compared to those who have been working continuously. But a passionate tester can ignite the passion anytime. You just need to give them a chance.

6. Do not ask lots of definitions during the interview. Do not care about skills which can be trained. Only care about skills/traits that cannot be trained. Attitude, interest, motivation, commitment, vision – these can be changed but it takes time. Think what you want – a person with full of definitions or someone who wants to learn and can be moulded to do good testing. However, do check if the candidate knows about coding if you are hiring a white box tester for example. Special skills are important too.

Testing is not everybody’s cup of tea. It requires thinking. Passionless testers will get bored in few years of testing. Choose good people for testing, not just another job seeker. Today, testing is not regarded as a class one job in IT industry. ‘They’ think testing is a low skilled job. You know what I meant by ‘they’. 

It will take time to convince everyone to change their hiring practices. Thanks to Pradeep and Santhosh. Moolya has started the trend. Others will follow. Let us make a New Year resolution – to uplift the image of software testing professionals by adopting a good hiring practice and not to be the same as what other bad recruiters are doing. Do you support me?

I promise to offer my free professional help to organizations who want to change their current hiring practice and adopt new better practice. Write to me.

I have used ‘he’ in this post to mean the “3rd person singular” gender. ‘He’ here is just a pronoun meaning both he and she. And I do not intend to discriminate male and female. 
15 Responses
  1. shilpa Says:

    nice post. I hope hiring managers read this.


  2. Anurag Says:

    Nice one.Good eye opener for HR managers.


  3. Hi Ajoy,

    Moolya will be successful in recruiting good employees not just because they have two reputable & excellent people at the helm, it's also because the way they sell themselves as a forward thinking, fun, exciting company to work for.

    I disagree that their strategy will work for everyone, in fact it would only work if the company can sell themselves to potential employee's like Moolya have.

    Remember to hire excellent testers you have to sell the job to them as much as you as a company have to ensure you're hiring the correct people.

    The vast majority of top class testers are happy in their current jobs & if they're not they are looking elsewhere for that special company that will let them influence their working process with their ideas. That's your opportunity to entice these people, they'll not come simply because you want them to spend 30mins to an 1hr showing why they should hire you prior to an interview, you need to sell your company just as much to them to get them to invest that time wanting to join you.

    Very nice post, thanks for sharing.

    Cheers,

    Darren.


  4. Rajiv Says:

    Excellent post, i hope this will change the hiring process.


  5. Nice post, thanks for sharing.

    I agree with Darren that a company needs to sell itself just as much as the candidate does, and not just in the advertising but also during the interview process. I have heard of many people rejecting job offers because the people conducting the interview seemed unprofessional or unapproachable.

    An interview should be used to find out if the candidate is going to be suitable for the role. I doubt many roles require full knowledge of ISTQB definitions and yet they are frequently used to filter applicants. When conducting an interview I have always asked the candidate to demonstrate skills and even better, actual examples of how they would do the work. Use role play, open questions and try to move into a more conversation based interview to get the candidate to relax and actually show you who they are.

    If you can get the recruitment right then you are half-way to a great test team.


  6. Jahaan Says:

    A very important and very insightful post from technical recruitment perspective.

    Great!

    jahaan


  7. Very nice work!! HR ppl should read this and think about the new hiring process, not only by HR ppl but also its very importent to Technical ppl who take part in hiring!

    _HM


  8. chanderkant Says:

    Hi sir,

    I m truly agree with u.., hope that the previous trend will change as the year change...nd happy new year..chander kant saini.


  9. Nishi Says:

    nice post sir


  10. very nice post Ajoy... U have represented the true picture of nowadays hiring process..


  11. mp tyagi Says:

    Hi Sir,
    very nice post for HR to recruiting well employees.
    thank's for sharing


  12. Chandandeep Says:

    nice post sir.HR ppl should think about this.hope for best.


  13. Bernice Says:

    Ajoy, This is excellent and is right on. I am also a hiring manager and it can be challenging to assess testing skills and abilities. Many candidates are out of college and are not really sure what we do as testers. So part of my process is educating them and then trying to figure out if they are a fit. I do have a sample, real-life problem I present candidates; however if they do not have testing experience they typically cannot provide much feedback.

    I am refining my interview approach as I learn more from all the wonderful blogs from people like yourself willing to share information. I find hiring a tester the most difficult job to fill.

    Thanks again for the article! Bernice


  14. Saket Says:

    Ajoy,
    I'm not a IT guy but i think the hiring practice that you have suggested is great one. This process is good when you want a person who can give direction to a team and who can think for a team but in today's IT scenario you also need people who can do the rote work which a real thinker would not want to work on. The hiring process needs to define what kind of person you need. If you need a person who can give direction, give break through solutions then you need to hire a person as you suggested but if you need a person who is expected to work on exactly the same stuff everyday without giving a though then hiring a thinker would be suicide for the firm. you need all kinds of people in a team. 10% are leaders and thinkers, 20% are opinion makers who understand the leaders and thinkers but are not thinkers themselves. these 20% are people you need to make the rest 70% work on rote jobs. The percentages would vary according to the task that needs to be completed but you need all three kinds.
    Regards
    Saket Pofali


  15. Kosha shah Says:

    HI ajay.
    Nice post.
    U r right.Our hiring process is not proper to find good employ.Every where process is started by HR.Hr of company is only interested to know that about our self ,our organization ,our salary packege but not our technical skill.& almost every interviwers ask lots of definations related to softare testing in interview.I think from that we are not using 20% of defination in our real life testing.If u r able to give answer then they will pass u.even i have experiance that some of company make examinition paper like ISQTB .they covered all quetion related to ISTQB in that.if u r able to give answer for that then they will hire u.I think this is not gud way.Many skilled testers are not able to do this.But they have very good logical skill ,analytical skill ,writting skill ,inovation skill.