How to find a good tester?

In case I haven’t spruiked it enough yet, we’re currently looking for a new tester here at Campaign Monitor. From previous hiring experience, I know that it’s tough work to find a good tester, especially here in Australia. Writing job descriptions is something I’ve always found a bit difficult. Luckily, this time around I’ve had a bit of help from Anne-Marie.

I didn’t actually think it would be this hard, because it is actually a genuinely good job. Personally if I could pick any testing job in Sydney it would certainly be this one, hands-down. It’s a good product, great people, a really beautiful office, heaps of benefits, flexible hours, a great salary and certainly enough challenging work to keep a good tester interested. And how many places in Sydney will offer you a private office and free lunch every day? So I thought this should be a pretty easy sell, but it turned out sales is a bit harder than I thought.

The job title
I initially set the job title to “Test Engineer”, following the vague logic that “Engineer” was an attractive title to technical types, and perhaps it would attract some developer-testers to the role. I’ve also heard the job title “Software Engineer in Test” used quite often, which the cynic in me suspects is a way to get around the misguided idea of technical testers not being “real” software engineers. But I can see the appeal in the title.

Anyway, after some thought I realised that the coding expertise of the candidate was not as important to my team as the ability to test and analyze the software. We have two automation specialists here in a team of three, and our automation stack doesn’t have a very high maintenance cost, so if our third tester can help out that’s great, but not essential. What we really need is somebody who can help with the exploratory testing of new features, and who is capable of shaping a risk-based test approach around the context of each feature in order to test it effectively and efficiently.

So “Test Analyst” is a much more suitable title. Given the amount of responsibility, control over the test approach and experience required for the role, “Senior” seemed like an appropriate prefix to that job title. In addition, one tester told me that the position was less appealing to her as an experienced tester, because it was not a senior role. So even though “Senior” seemed a bit redundant to me in a team of three testers, I guess it holds some weight.

The appeal
For some reason, it hadn’t initially occurred to me that I would need to make this role appealing to testers looking for a challenge. It took Anne-Marie to point out to me that my job description was boring for me to realise that I would probably not even apply for my own advertised role. I don’t like generalising from self, but I thought that if I want to hire somebody like myself, I should write a job advertisement that would appeal to me, as a job seeker. So I thought, what would I be looking for in a testing role?

- An interesting product to work with
- A variety of different testing challenges, to keep me interested
- Influence over the testing process itself
- A pleasant work environment with good people
- A nice big automation stack to tinker with

So I revised the first paragraph to not be about what I want in a candidate, but what I could offer a good tester in terms of an interesting job. Then I went on to briefly explain the kind of candidate that would appeal to us. I hadn’t even mentioned the private office, free lunches and other cool stuff, so I put that in too.

The bullet point list
Bullet points are great for this kind of thing, right? My initial bullet point list included such boringness as “Experience writing test cases and bug reports”. I guess I was just trying to “widen the net” by making such a general statement, but it made it look like a very basic, unskilled role. Which is crazy, because actually we’re quite selective and we want somebody with excellently awesome testing skills. So I expanded the bullet point list to show more specific points.

The extra homework
So now that I’d made this job look much more appealing, and decided to advertise on the employment feeding-frenzy that is SEEK, we needed a better way to whittle down the applicants. My company used a very innovative approach to hiring our latest designer. It’s difficult to use the same approach for hiring testers, mainly because I don’t think testers have quite the same online presence as designers do. But it was interesting to see that the best designers would put a bit of extra work into their applications for the role.

So we figured that if we ask for a little extra effort in applying, we could weed out those who weren’t really interested and those who didn’t read the description. As well as this, it’s a good opportunity to get an impression of the candidate’s testing skill.

So, after all that, this is what I came up with. The only way to tell if it’s effective or not is to put it out there and see what happens. So that’s what I’ll do. Incidentally, if this sounds like the job for you and you are able to live and work in Sydney, Australia (no sponsorship or relocation, sorry!) then I would love to hear from you.

Senior Test Analyst

As a senior member of our test team, you’ll be helping to shape our test approach, as well as testing new features and improvements for Campaign Monitor. At its simplest level, Campaign Monitor is a web application used for email marketing and analysis. However, dig a bit deeper and you will find that it is a complex system that offers a variety of different testing challenges. Some primary testing concerns are usability, security, performance, load, cross-browser compatibility, third-party integration and mobile devices, to name just a few. Testers are involved from design right through to implementation and release, making this a challenging role that will suit any tester with a special interest in improving software from day one of the development cycle.

Our ideal tester understands that there is always another question to ask; that nothing is exactly what it seems to be; that there are no absolutes in software. Here at Campaign Monitor, we are constantly evolving the way we work. Our testing processes and approaches are definitely not set in stone, we need someone who is able to reflect, adapt and improve with us.

We love people who are passionate about what they do and about improving how they do it. If you’re motivated by continuous learning and improvement, then we can give you the tools and support that you need. We’ll also give you your own private office, a machine built just the way you like it, free lunch every day and flexible work hours.

Ideally, we would like an experienced tester who can read and write C#, or a similar language. This is because we maintain automated test suites written in C#, and it would be great to have another hand on board to help us maintain and improve it. However, we will definitely consider exceptional candidates with little to no programming experience. But basic knowledge of HTML and CSS is a must.

Required skills:

  • Ability to create and define a test approach for any given context
  • Skilled at analyzing a product for testing, using a number of different oracles
  • A good understanding of metrics and their use in project analysis
  • Adept at writing robust test cases that stand the test of time
  • Ability to write clear bug reports quickly and concisely
  • Capable of establishing a good rapport with developers and other team members
  • A history of amazing coworkers with your bug-finding wizardry

And here’s the technical stuff:

  • At least basic knowledge of CSS and HTML.
  • Bonus points: Ability to write code using C# or similar language (such as Java).

We’re also a very social bunch at Campaign Monitor, so you’ll need to have a fun personality with great communication skills and be prepared to accept a ping pong challenge at a moment’s notice.

To apply, please send the following items to trishk@freshview.com:

  • Your resume
  • A cover letter
  • A document outlining how you would go about testing one of our recently-released features, Worldview
  • 4 thoughts on “How to find a good tester?

    1. Great. Thank you for sharing this post. I just wanted to know if an Independent Software Testing company or an outsourced software testing would be a right choice for better quality.

    2. Hi Lisa, I’m probably not the best person to ask. You could try asking a similar question on http://sqa.stackexchange.com/, but I’d suggest rewording the question. Those folks will be more helpful if you tell them the nature of your project and ask which option would be more suitable.

    Leave a Reply

    Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

    You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>