Dateline: Sept. 24, 2013
It’s football season and you may have been watching a lot of football lately. On Monday night, we saw Peyton Manning pick the Oakland Raiders apart. Noticeably, he had a cast of stars to help him as well. The Broncos put their team together carefully, just as you should when hiring for your QA team. When we put together a team for a client, we first think of the objective and how to satisfy the client either internal or external. In football, you want to score touchdowns, but for testing, what is a touchdown? And what types of players will help you score touchdowns.
Firstly we look for the right work attitude in all our team-mates. Attitude is probably the most important. We want players that not only work well together, but also have similar values. Values we look for include the willingness to do anything it takes to win. This could mean doing things they were not hired for. It could also include working out of normal working hours. There are many things to look for. These are just a few. Sometimes it may be hard to see these attributes in an interview. For that reason, we always make it clear that there is a trial period, after which either party can walk away. The last thing you want is a quarterback that you draft in the first round that is a cry baby.
Of course, like in football, we want to avoid mistakes and penalties. So, we look for people that have some experience in making mistakes, and for raw intelligence for the ability to learn. We give questions in the interview that challenge their thinking ability. The last thing we want is a player that memorized a few plays and doesn’t know what to do or how to react when confronted with a new situation.
We also look for diversity in background and skills. Obviously you don’t want 10 running backs. But for testing, we look for a variety of people and most importantly acknowledge and embrace the fact that not everyone can be or wants to be a superstar. Nor do we want all superstars. Can you imagine a team with 11 players like Terrell Owens? So, we want a mix of people. We want steady performers who are very stable and will stick with our team (and accumulate deep domain and product knowledge) and not quit and move teams for a few thousand dollars. We also do need some superstars that are real play-makers. This could include people that can solve very difficult configuration issues, or know how to make our automation framework highly maintainable. However, these star problem solvers could be useless with their talents overshadowed if we don’t find defects before they reach production. We also want people that are super dedicated that will work till the sun comes up to find all the defects we can possibly find.
In summary, when putting together your team, think about all the angles and the different types of players you need. Think about the roles they will fill, and how they can help you score touchdowns. Remember that a star receiver is useless unless you have a good quarterback and a decent offensive line.