This interview with Santhosh Tuppad is part of our series of “Testing Smarter with…” interviews. Our goal with these interviews is to highlight insights and experiences as told by many of the software testing field’s leading thinkers.

Santhosh Tuppad fell in love with computers when he was 12 and since then his love for computers has increased exponentially. He founded his first startup in 2010 and was part of growing the company to nearly 80 people.

In short, he is a passionate software tester, security researcher, entrepreneur and badass in following his heart come what may!


Santhosh Tuppad

This post includes highlights from our full interview with Santhosh Tuppad. The full interview is long and packed with great thoughts.

Personal Background

Hexawise: What drew you into a career in software testing?

Santhosh: I have loved computers since I was 12. My father enrolled me into a computer course and I got to experience Disk Operating System for the first time where I used computer using command-line terminal and also played Prince Of Persia game. And I was addicted to gaming during this phase.

After my gaming stint, I was introduced to the internet and picked up an addiction for IRC (Internet Relay Chat). Here, I met various hackers and used to communicate with them on various channels which were heavily moderated and were invite only. I had to demonstrate my interest in hacking to these folks to invite me to their channel. My first hack was to hack the dial-up network credentials and use them at my home when the internet shop used to close at night. We used to have Internet Packs at those times in India and I had to pay money to buy those: and I did not have money during my teenage years.

Without much ado, let’s skip to software testing part. After my graduation, I did not know what should I be doing (one thing I knew for sure was, anything that I do has to be with computers as I was passionate). I understood that, I cannot settle for anything which doesn’t synchronize with my heart. I was on the journey of finding which becomes part of me. And finally, I enrolled for the software testing course. And during the course days, I could connect my hacking skills (security testing) to software testing. This part of my life is what I call finding bliss.

And the story continued and I started growing in the industry as a tester, international speaker, participant in conferences across the globe, entrepreneur in software testing, keynote speaker, blogger, author and what not.

Hexawise: If you could write a letter and send it back in time to yourself when you were first getting into software testing, what advice would you include in it?

Santhosh:

Oh my dear soul,

I see that you have found yourself in a country where everyone is pressurized to become something else than they want to be. You identified something crucial and beautiful about yourself, that is you follow your heart with patience and kindness and don’t settle for something that doesn’t make you come alive. Like I know, passion is a variable and it may get boring at times; but being bored is just a temporary phase and an emotion which doesn’t mean your passion is dead. So, be rational and decide for yourself while you are kind to others. Accept yourself and forgive everyone.

You are stepping into what you love and I know you are confident about your journey and you believe in it. That’s beautiful.

It may be easy to fall into routine and get into monotony of things in your career. Nevertheless, you know how to sail through things and get out of them to start fresh or continue in a different path. You can swiftly shift based on your visceral.

Grow by following your visceral feelings and have no regrets. Be good at connecting the dots and growing out of them. The beauty of software testing has not been known by the world so well as of today, so work on your skills and demonstrate them to the world and educate professionals and students about the greatness of software testing. It’s not about you or me or anyone, it’s about next generation testers who could help their next generation and their generation to enjoy the fruit of invention which includes software. Let software make the life beautiful and not buggy.

I know that you know about your journey, but I am just saying.

With love, Your other self


Wedding picture of Gina Enache and Santhosh Tuppad in the temple at Bengaluru, India

Hexawise: What kinds of activities do you enjoy when you’re not at work?

Santhosh: I love meditation forms; talking deeply with a friend sitting on my balcony of my apartment; watching documentaries of various types; and conversations about psychology, life and many other topics with my wife Gina Enache.

I feel that educating customers is the key and it takes more leaders to spread the greatness of exploratory testing style to the world through demonstration.

Views on Software Testing

Hexawise: What do you wish more developers, business analysts, and project managers understood about software testing?

Santhosh: I wish that developers, business analysts and project managers understood that it is not low-skilled job which anyone can do. And also wish more of them learned to collaborate across the teams in order achieve the common goal.

At the same time, I also feel that testers should upskill and demonstrate the value they provide in order to gain credibility from those on other teams. I also wish to see them spending time together instead of just seeing their role as limited. Last, but not least; manage conflicts and work as a team.

Hexawise: What challenges and advantages are there to managing an exploratory based, thinking software tester organization (as you designed Test Insane to be) compared to the still common "checking" style software testing organization.​

Santhosh:

Challenges

  • Not many customers understand how exploratory testing can be valuable. And it’s hard to educate them as well because most of them do not want to hear.
  • Hiring is a bigger problem. In my experience, I have trained new testers or made some testers to unlearn their testing way and I have been successful, but it’s hard to scale in my view in the current world.
  • Pricing is something that customers choose over the skills. It’s sad, but true. Most customers appear to be happy with “checking” style organization because their pricing is good for customers. Value based testing still needs to be understood by customers. However, I have been trying my best to talk about good testing (exploratory skilled testing/technical testing) to business owners at conferences I participate in or speak at.
  • Most of the testers have half-baked knowledge about exploratory testing and yet they call themselves exploratory testing experts. This makes it hard for context-driven leaders to see a scaleable model for exploratory testing. Thanks to Ministry of Testing community which is really spreading a great message to the testing world. I appreciate Rosie Sherry, Richard Bradshaw and every CDT member who are working on scaling it up and spreading the right message to the world.

I feel that educating customers is the key and it takes more leaders to spread the greatness of exploratory testing style to the world through demonstration.

Advantages

  • Starting TestInsane (Exploratory Testing and Check Automation Services Company) has also enabled me to bring in a change and demonstrate to the world the worth of good testing and value-based testing that can be done through the exploratory testing style.
  • Experienced testers who joined TestInsane unlearned the checking style and learned exploratory style testing and they are leaders who spread their knowledge and also are happy with their profession.
  • Customers are happy when they see test coverage and have acknowledged that it helps them to make better informed decisions about shipping or not.
  • Recurring business from customers who saw the value
  • The sense of freedom with responsibilities that my team members have. And this is because they enjoy exploratory testing and they perform amazingly. Freedom has always been great, but it comes with challenges. And one of the challenge is constantly learning and adapting based on the context.

I recommend that organizations hire security specialists because you don’t want to just rely on checklist based testers unless they have mastered hacking and have practiced enough to create a mindset of hacker.

Hexawise: Do you believe security testing for software requires testers that specialize in security testing? Certainly some security testing can be incorporated by most software testers, but does the complexity and constantly evolving nature of software security mean that only specialists can provide sufficient security testing?

Santhosh: This is very context specific question. And I am glad that you mention “Certainly some security testing can be incorporated by most software testers” which is true. Most of the software testers can be “Survival Mode” security testers who follow the checklist or guidelines (The Script Kiddie I mean).

However, what the organization needs for better coverage and deeper security testing is a tester who can be an explorer and find security vulnerabilities like a black-hat hacker. I recommend organizations hire security specialists because you don’t want to just rely on checklist based testers unless they have mastered hacking and have practiced enough to create a mindset of hacker.

I believe strongly that we need better security testers who are not just certified by EC-Council (nowadays, anyone can get this certification), but are known for skills and can show it via demonstration. Even in today’s world, we need security specialists if we are serious about software security. Period.

My articles on various topics of security testing provide additional reading on security testing of software.

Industry Observations / Industry Trends

Hexawise: India is a worldwide center for software testing. What risks do you see to that business going forward? What can testers (or testing companies) in India do to protect their market and gain customers going forward?

Santhosh: In my opinion, I don’t see the risk at all in India for these reasons:

  • Overseas companies who outsource testing are happy with bad testing
  • Customers think automation solves testing problems just because they are blind to good testing and they think - "good testing is automation" - which is incorrect. Like I say, automation is a myth. Automation is just a Ferrari (faster), it doesn't solves testing problems by itself.
  • India has more manpower in terms of engineers. Now, this can be a boon or bane for individuals who were pressurised by society or parents to study engineering. However, India has more engineers and that means more manpower.
  • There is nothing that testers need to do until the customers understand the value of good testing which is value-based instead of running the N number of test cases and showcasing some decorated spreadsheets which speak about good/bad testing.
  • Companies are moving towards automation and artificial intelligence thinking it will solve their problems of testing. A big no. I believe that ideas are driven by the beautiful brain. And people believing the myth of AI and automation is not a risk as long as customers are loving them. In short, customers pay for this and people love to make money without educating the customer.
  • There can be a risk if and only if there is any other country which will gain the traction compared to India and maybe show what is good testing in a bigger proportion. And only then there may be a risk for Indian based companies.

Here are the risks for a tester anywhere around the globe if they fall into any categories mentioned below (not just India):

  • Falling into the phase of monotony and routine where there is no new learning.
  • Believing that, “If I stick to this company for long time, then I will have job security” (We do not know when things change in this rapidly changing and evolving industry).
  • Not getting to the depth of a problem and also not practicing thinking skills like lateral thinking, critical thinking, cognitive thinking etcetera.
  • Not spending money and time on credible conferences and workshops
  • Not adapting to the new learning and also being rigid by saying I cannot adapt.
  • Lack of passion. There is only survival with lack of passion. If a tester wants their work to be great and satisfying, passion is must. Or else they can only survive and not enjoy what they do. The solution to lack of passion problem could be, creating a passion for the profession by learning OR identifying a passion even if it’s any other profession (This is a context-based advice).

Hexawise: Have you seen a particularly effective process where the software testing team was integrated into the feedback from a deployed software application (getting feedback from users on problems, exploring issues the software noted as possible bugs...)? What was so effective about that instance?

Santhosh: The answer to this is available in this interview in the “Staying Current / Learning” section of the full interview.

The effective thing about that was, both developers and testers got access to the bugs that really matter. And once the fixes started rolling based on the feedback analyzer tool where feedback from users were being used in order to test better, there was improvement in terms of page views, time spent on page and also orders were checked out smoothly and quickly. The company started getting more orders (eCommerce platform) while they had great positive feedback and the when measured monthly feedback statistics, the negative feedback eventually reduced which spoke about “the effectiveness” of using the feedback from users and accommodating in the testing practice for better.

Working closely with programmers/developers is one of the beauties of an effective team. And Agile to me just means human values and these values have to be incorporated in the team. I believe there has to be great training in the companies/teams about conflict management, communication, motivation, solving problems etcetera in order to power up the teams to perform better and deliver better products to the world thereby helping the business move forward.

Staying Current / Learning

Hexawise: What do you look for when hiring software testers? What suggestions do you have for those looking to advance in their in software testing career?

Santhosh: In my experience, I have hired testers based on their attitude only. And some times, I have hired them only for their skills. I have had my own lessons and I have some checklist or guidelines that I follow in order to good testers with mixed ingredients of attitude. Well, the attitude is a tricky part because unlike WYSIWYG (what you see is what you get) editors, humans are not really WYSIWYG. It’s the perception during the interview that one carries about attitude. And attitude during the interview maybe based on best interest of the candidate to get hired. Most of the times it’s manipulation of the attitude which will fade away in months or days or years. I repeat, hiring is really a tricky situation and one can learn only through experiences and eventually grow with good hiring methods.

What do I look for based on my learning experiences in hiring?

  • Technical testing skills - My highest priority is for this. For example: If I am hiring for web application testing, I interview them concepts like web browser rendering engine, developer tools usage, tampering POST requests via Network tab, about HTTP headers and why are they important, depth knowledge about cookies, session management, their unique ideas to test web application and providing them with my own custom buggy web application that I have developed in order to analyse their skills hands-on and finally understand if a candidate can be a better fit for my team. (Note: This example is for a fresh candidate or someone who is 1 to 2 year experienced in web application testing). I would like to say that, I knew more about web browsers, sessions, cookies, tampering, hacking (thanks to my love for hacking when I was 16 and it’s been more than a decade being a security tester. Now, you know how passion is important if you want to do something great and well.
  • Attitude - This has been tricky for me and I am still learning how to hire based on attitude. Based on my experiments, I love to have discussions with the candidate and have transparency and also in the journey, speak like friends because those are the times the candidate opens up and feels comfortable.
  • Knowing the short-term plan of a candidate - Now, this is a checklist to see if I can have a good hire. Nevertheless, I need to see how a candidate performs in real environment once hired. In my experience, both these environments differ very well based on the context. It’s just like a web application or a software performance after being deployed to production/live environment.

Hexawise: What software testing-related books would you recommend should be on a tester’s bookshelf? What blogs would you recommend should be included in a software tester's RSS feed reader?

Santhosh: The first book I shall recommend is “Lessons learned in software testing” by James Bach, Bret Pettichord and Cem Kaner.

Here is the list of books that I love in testing,

  • Testing Computer Software by Cem Kaner
  • The Black Swan - By Nasim Taleb
  • General Systems Thinking by Jerry Weinberg
  • AmIaBug.com - Online Book by Robert Sabourin
  • Showing Up - Book by Olaf Lewitz and Christine Neidhardt
  • The Psychology of Software Testing - By John Stevenson
  • The Web Application Hacker's Handbook: Finding and Exploiting Security Flaws - By Dafydd Stuttard and Marcus Pinto (for security testing aspirants)
  • The design of everyday things - By Don Norman
  • And many more books. (follow me on twitter if you need any specific book suggestion as I cannot flood this post with so many books)

Blogs that I follow and recommend for a tester:

Hexawise: Have you incorporated a new testing idea into your testing practices in the last year? Will you continue using it? Why? / Why not?

Santhosh:

The problem statement: When I was working at Tesco on a testing engagement, I happened to see that Tesco website had a feedback form with rating system, checkbox options and radio buttons which is used to collect feedback from its users. As part of my testing activity, I love to speak to cross-functional teams in an organization and extract the information that can help me test better.

So, looking at the feedback forms I wanted to know how is this feedback processed by the test team in order to improvise their testing by learning from users feedback. I approached the Test Manager and asked him, “Hey! Are we looking into the feedback from users so that we can improve our testing practices?” to which his response was, “Santhosh, that’s a very good question I hear for the first time and sadly we do not use it because there are thousands of feedback responses and we are confused on what to focus on. Only our customer support looks into it to address the issues and we don’t really use the feedback system to learn and better our testing”.

The Solution: In a week’s time, I along with my friend developed a feedback analysis system (a web based application) which could consume the feedback in a *.txt format and then reveal the feedback in organized and intelligent way. Basically, the application we developed sorted the information in a readable format and categorized the feedback.

The surprising factor was, developers also started to use the tool as they cared about the quality of their code. This was an amazing success of how cross-functional teams can work together and develop something to achieve a desired common goal.

Since then, I personally work on developing such tools along with my programmer friends in order to do better testing. This phase I call as, “Success by collaboration and being creative”.

See the full interview for screenshots of the tool they developed and more information.

Profile


Gina Enache (my wife) and I in Germany

Santhosh Tuppad fell in love with computers when he was 12 and since then his love for computers has increased exponentially. After his graduation (Santhosh puts it this way, “Somehow, I graduated” J), he worked as software tester in one of the organization in India and he quit because he was bored with the work he was doing. After that, he started his first startup in 2010 and was part of growing the company to nearly 80 people. Alas! He got bored again in his first startup and also he was not happy. He made a choice to quit and started his second startup. He is going to start his next startup soon. He says, “Getting bored is a sign of something new to be started and it excites me”.

In short, he is a passionate software tester, security researcher (Started as unethical hacker and transformed to ethical hacker for good), entrepreneur and badass in following his heart / visceral come what may!

Social Media Contacts: Twitter: @santhoshst

LinkedIn: Santhosh Tuppad

Facebook: santhosh.tuppad

Skype: santhosh.s.tuppad

Related: Testing Smarter with James Bach - Testing Smarter with Ajay Balamurugadas - Testing Smarter with Alan Page

By: John Hunter on Sep 25, 2017

Categories: Career, Exploratory Testing, Interview, Testing Smarter with...

Hexawise is hiring a senior consultant to help our clients improve their software testing processes and results.

Job description

Your mission will be to help Hexawise’s clients achieve dramatic improvements to their software testing efficiency and effectiveness. To do so, you will be providing consulting, training, and implementation support services to ensure that our customers are successfully achieving their business objectives using our test optimization and test automation SaaS solutions and are progressively expanding their usage of our tools.

Your testing expertise will make you uniquely qualified to share best practices and recommendations with existing and target customers. Your customer expertise will make you uniquely qualified to advocate on behalf of Hexawise customers and influence internal strategy and provide leadership to the overall activities of Hexawise’s professional services.

Your job will encompass a diverse set of responsibilities. You will be a highly valued member of the Hexawise team, reporting directly to the CEO.

Responsibilities: Existing Clients

  • Develop strong operational relationships with clients’ project teams and stakeholders to maximize customer satisfaction and seek additional service opportunities.
  • Provide training and implementation support during initial product implementation followed by project-specific consulting, and ongoing adoption support.
  • Contribute to increase revenue throughout the post-sales lifecycle: increase product utilization; identify and close new consulting business within existing accounts; and minimize churn.
  • Offer guidance to clients during launches of new products, features, and/or service offerings.
  • Lead project-specific consulting engagements, and provide test optimization and test automation guidance to Hexawise implementation initiatives.
  • Return important customer insights to the Hexawise team, with the goal of influencing internal strategy and securing the success of our customers.

Responsibilities: Target Clients

  • Clearly explain the benefits and limitations of combinatorial test design to potential customers using language and concepts relevant to their context by drawing upon your own “been there, done that” experiences of having successfully introduced combinatorial test design methods in similar situations.
  • Develop tailored rollout strategies which include integration of Hexawise Optimize and Hexawise Automate into client processes.
  • Define and present comprehensive training and consulting proposals that will enhance Hexawise adoption and keep customer churn extremely low.


Matt Dengler in Japan
Pictured: Matt Dengler, a Hexawise consultant who recently traveled to Japan to help an insurance client design more thorough sets of software tests.

Requirements:

  • 3-5 years of experience with software testing, preferably with an IT consulting firm or a large financial services organization
  • Ability to master the functional capabilities, methodology, and use cases of Hexawise solutions in order to advise customers and promote best practices
  • Excellent communication and interpersonal skills, with the ability to persuasively communicate recommendations, thoughtfully answer tough questions, effectively champion customer needs, and overcome organizational inertia
  • Industry acumen, with knowledge of current software testing trends and an ability to converse with customers at a detailed level on pertinent issues and challenges and describe to clients where Hexawise fits into the competitive landscape of software testing solutions
  • Ability to travel regularly (likely to be no more than 40%)
  • You must be eligible to legally work in the USA.
  • Working from our offices in Durham, NC would be highly preferable. We might consider remote working arrangements for an exceptional candidate based in the USA.

Learn more about the position and apply.

By: John Hunter on Aug 23, 2017

Categories: Career, Customer Success, Hexawise, Software Testing

At Hexawise we aim to improve the way software is tested. Achieving that aim requires not only providing our clients with a wonderful software tool (which our customers say we’re succeeding at) but also a commitment from the users of our tool to adopt new ways of thinking about software testing.

We have written previously about our focus on the importance of the values Bill Hunter (our founder's father) to Hexawise. That has led us to constantly focus on how maximize the benefits our customers gain using Hexawise. This focus has led us to realize that our customers that take advantage of the high-touch training services and ongoing expert test design support on demand that we offer often realize unusually large benefits and roll out usage of Hexawise more quickly and broadly than our customers who acquire licenses to Hexawise and try to “get the tool and make it available to the team.”

We are now looking for someone to take on the challenge of helping our clients succeed. The principles behind our decision to put so much focus on helping our customers succeed are obvious to those that understand the thinking of Bill Hunter, W. Edwards Deming, Russel Ackoff etc. but they may seem a bit odd to others. The focus of this senior-level position really is to help our customers improve their software testing results. It isn't just a happy sounding title that has no bearing on what the job actually entails.

The person holding this position will report to the CEO and work with other executives at Hexawise who all share a commitment to delighting our customers and improving the practice of software testing.

Hexawise is an innovative SaaS firm focused on helping large companies use smarter approaches to test their enterprise software systems. Teams using Hexawise get to market faster with higher quality products. We are the world’s leading firm in our niche market and have a growing client base of highly satisfied customers. Since we launched in 2009, we have grown both revenues and profits every year. Hexawise is changing the way that large companies test software. More than 100 Fortune 500 companies and hundreds of other smaller firms use our industry leading software.

Join our journey to transform how companies test their software systems.

Hexawise office

Description: VP of Customer Success

In the Weeks Prior to a Sale Closing

  • Partner with sales representatives to conduct virtual technical presentations and demonstrations of our Hexawise test design solution.

  • Clearly explain the benefits and limitations of combinatorial test design to potential customers using language and concepts relevant to their context by drawing upon your own “been there, done that” experiences of having successfully introduced combinatorial test design methods in multiple similar situations.

  • Identify and assess business and technical requirements, and position Hexawise solutions accordingly.

Immediately Upon a New Sale Closing

  • Assess a new client’s existing testing-related processes, tools, and methods (as well as their organizational structure) in order to provide the client with customized, actionable recommendations about how they can best incorporate Hexawise.

  • Collaborate with client stakeholders to proactively identify potential barriers to successful adoption and put plans in place to mitigate / overcome such barriers.

  • Provide remote, instructor-led training sessions via webinars.

  • Provide multi-day onsite instructor-led training sessions that: cover basic software test design concepts (such as Equivalence Class Partitioning, the definition of Pairwise-Testing coverage, etc.) as well as how to use the specific features of Hexawise.

  • Include industry-specific and customer-specific customized training modules and hands-on test design exercises to help make the sessions relevant to the testers and BA’s who attend the training sessions.

  • Collaborate with new users and help them iterate, improve, and finalize their first few sets of Hexawise-generated software tests.

  • Set rollout and adoption success criteria with clients and put plans in place to help them achieve their goals.

Months After a New Sale Closing

  • Continue to engage with customers onsite and virtually to understand their needs, answer their test design questions, and help them achieve large benefits from test optimization.

  • Monitor usage statistics of Hexawise clients and proactively reach out to clients, as appropriate, to provide proactive assistance at the first sign that they might be facing any potential adoption/rollout challenges.

  • Collaborate with stakeholders and end users at our clients to identify opportunities to improve the features and capabilities of Hexawise and then collaborate with our development team to share that feedback and implement improvements.

Required Skills and Experience

We are looking for a highly-experienced combinatorial test design expert with outstanding analytical and communication skills to provide these high touch on-boarding services and partner with our sales team with prospective clients.

Education and Experience

  • Bachelor’s or technical university degree.

  • Deep experience successfully introducing combinatorial test design methods on multiple different kinds of projects to several different groups of testers.

  • Set rollout and adoption success criteria with multiple teams and put plans in place to achieve them.

  • Minimum 5 years in software testing, preferably at a IT consulting firm or large financial services firm.

Knowledge and Skills

  • Ability to present and demonstrate capabilities of the Hexawise tool, and the additional services we provides to our clients beyond our tool.
  • Exhibit excellent communication and presentation skills, including questioning techniques.
  • Demonstrate passion regarding consulting with customers.
  • Understand how IT and enterprise software is used to address the business and technical needs of customers.
  • Demonstrate hands-on level skills with relevant and/or related software technology domains.
  • Communicate the value of products and solutions in terms of financial return and impact on customer business goals.
  • Possess a solid level of industry acumen; keeping current with software testing trends and able to converse with customers at a detailed level on pertinent issues and challenges.
  • Represents Hexawise knowledgeably, based on a solid understanding of Hexawise’s business direction, portfolio and capabilities
  • Understand the competitive landscape for Hexawise and position Hexawise effectively.
  • A cover letter that describes who you are, what you've done, and why you want to join Hexawise.
  • Ability to work and learn independently and as part of a team
  • Desire to work in a fast-paced, challenging start-up environment

Why join Hexawise?

salary + bonus; medical and dental, 401(k) plans; free parking and very slick Chapel Hill office! Opportunity to experience work with a fast-growing, innovative technology company that is changing the way software is tested.

Key Benefits:

Salary: Negotiable, but minimum of $100,000 + Commissions based upon client license renewals Benefits: Health, dental included, 401k plan Travel: Average of no more than 2-3 days onsite per week Location: Chapel Hill, NC*

*Working from our offices would be highly preferable. We might consider remote working arrangements for an exceptional candidate based in the US.

Apply for the VP of Customer Success position at Hexawise.

By: John Hunter on May 12, 2016

Categories: Hexawise, Career, Software Testing, Lean, Customer Success, Agile

The process used to hire employees is inefficient in general and even more inefficient for knowledge work. Justin Hunter, Hexawise CEO, posted the following tweet:

The labor market is highly inefficient for software testers. Many excellent testers are undervalued relative to average testers. Agree?

 

The tweet sparked quite a few responses:

inefficient-job-market-tweet

I think there are several reasons for why the job market is inefficient in general, and for why it is even more inefficient for software testing than for most jobs.

 

  • Often, how companies go about hiring people is less about finding the best people for the organization and more about following a process that the organization has created. Without intending to, people can become more more concerned about following procedural rules than in finding the best people.

  • The hiring process is often created much like software checking, a bunch of simple things to check - not because doing so is actually useful but because simple procedural checks are easy to verify. So organizations require a college degree (and maybe even require a specific major). And they will use keywords to select or reject applicants. Or require certification or experience with a specific tool. Often the checklist used to disqualify people contains items that might be useful but shouldn't be used as barriers but it is really easy for people that don't understand the work to apply the rules in the checklist to filter the list of applicants.

  • It is very hard to hire software testers well when those doing the hiring don't understand the role software testing should play. Most organizations don't understand, so they hire for software checkers. They, of course, don't value people that could provide much more value (software testers that go far beyond checking). The weakness of hiring without understanding the work is common for knowledge work positions and likely even more problematic for software testing due to the even worse understanding of what they should be doing compared to most knowledge workers.

 

And there are plenty more reasons for the inefficient market.

Here are few ideas that can help improve the process:

  • Spend time to understand and document what your organization seeks to gain from new hires.

  • Deemphasize HR's role in the talent evaluation process and eliminate dysfunctional processes that HR may have instituted. Talent evaluation should be done by people that understand the work that needs to get done. HR can be useful in providing guidance on legal and company-decided policies for hiring. Don't have people that can't evaluate the difference between great testers and good testers decide who should be hired or what salary is acceptable. Incidentally, years of experience, certifications, degrees, past salary and most anything else HR departments routinely use are often not correlated to the value a potential employee brings.

  • A wonderful idea, though a bit of a challenge in most organizations, is to use job auditions. Have the people actually do the job to figure out if they can do what you need or not (work on a project for a couple weeks, for example). This has become more common in the last 10 years but is still rare.

  • I also believe you are better off hiring for somewhat loose job descriptions, if possible, and then adjusting the job to who you hire. That way you can maximize the benefit to the organization based on the people you have. At Hexawise, for example, most of the people we hire have strengths in more than one "job description" area. Developers with strong UI skills, for instance, are encouraged to make regular contributions in both areas.

  • Creating a rewarding work environment helps (this is a long term process). One of the challenges in getting great people is they are often not interested in working for dysfunctional organizations. If you build up a strong testing reputation great testers will seek out opportunities to work for you and when you approach great testers they will be more likely to listen. This also reduces turnover and while that may not seem to relate to the hiring process is does (one reason we hire so poorly is we don't have time to do it right, which is partly because we have to do so much of it).

  • Having employees participate in user groups and attending conferences can help your organization network in the testing community. And this can help when you need to hire. But if your organization isn't a great one for testers to work in, they may well leave for more attractive organizations. The "solution" to this risk is not to stunt the development of your staff, but to improve the work environment so testers want to work for your organization.

 

Great quote from Dee Hock, founder of Visa:

Hire and promote first on the basis of integrity; second, motivation; third, capacity; fourth, understanding; fifth, knowledge; and last and least, experience. Without integrity, motivation is dangerous; without motivation, capacity is impotent; without capacity, understanding is limited; without understanding, knowledge is meaningless; without knowledge, experience is blind. Experience is easy to provide and quickly put to good use by people with all the other qualities.

Please share your thoughts and suggestions on how to improve the hiring process.

 

Related: Finding, and Keeping, Good IT People - Improving the Recruitment Process - Six Tips for Your Software Testing Career - Understanding How to Manage Geeks - People: Team Members or Costs - Scores of Workers at Amazon are Deputized to Vet Job Candidates and Ensure Cultural Fit

By: John Hunter on Jan 14, 2014

Categories: Checklists, Software Testing, Career