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Last modified: June 21, 2016
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Hiring for effective test teams

I had to put together a test team which made me think about the types of people required and their roles. It’s hard to judge how a candidate will behave in a team during an interview. In future, I will require candidates to take a test to gain insight into their personalities. It can be very easy in a mad rush to fill seats on a test project and to lose sight of the fact that people’s characters can be used as tools for optimum performance. I,ve found that with a little patience and many more interviews, there is always someone better suited than the last person. Disclaimer: I write from personal experience, I’m not formally educated in social, behavioural or human sciences. I will use the words character, nature and personality interchangeably without consideration for the finer differences, as described by above-mentioned fields of study.

This is an over-arching classification and all the personality types can exist in any of the classes. The empirical description of an A-class tester is someone with a passion for testing. They are self-driven, motivated, and do everything they can to further their understanding of testing. They will stick with trusted industry practices when there is chaos, simply because they have experience of the practice adding value. They will try new things in an attempt to better their work. An A-class tester may be driven by career aspirations or a real, consuming interest in testing. A B-class tester doesn’t have the passion of the A-class tester, but he delivers nonetheless. They are competent, reliable team members, with value to add, and a genuine interest in what they do. With the correct leadership they can be inspired into A-class testerhood. This group is often in testing by accident, or because of career growth decisions within an organisation. Coming into testing from a business super-user function, soon to leave testing for a middle management position, or to become a business analyst. The description for these individuals is just-passing-through. It takes extreme commitment and a strong will for this class of tester to become A-class testers.

I want to refer to an article by Lloyd Roden of Grove Consultants. Lloyd discussed 4 types of testers, knowing your team in this framework, and how to get the best out of your team. Included in the article is a test questionnaire to help classify team members it is done after the style of the DISC profile. It is focused on finding good candidates while sifting through resumés. She also wrote an outstanding piece on the classes of testers that I discussed. She has more interesting resources on her blog, including a very clever interview question for testers. Comments, remarks, opinions, and critique in this piece are expressly the view of the author of the piece, and do not necessarily reflect those of the editorial board of Test Focus, its staff or its publishers.

Things like integrity, honesty and responsibility cannot be determined by any of these tests. It’s likely that no person will fall a 100 % into any pigeonhole. There are grey areas, borderline cases and overlaps. If you keep these profiles in mind while selecting team members, know what you are looking for and do some sort of test, the difference in results can be remarkable.