I was surprised by the comments I received on my Stickyminds article last week. Then I read Brian Marick’s insightful Tester who can script and I may have the words to describe my surprise and concerns.
I was surprised by the people who commented that they were looking primarily for personality fit and cultural fit. I don’t see how to hear enough answers on a phone screen to really judge personality or cultural fit, unless the answers are so far out of bounds that it’s easy to to tell. I’m not clairvoyant, and I bet there are people who can fake personality and cultural fit on a phone screen. I’ve certainly run into people who talk a good line on the phone screen and look like different people in the job interview.I was concerned by technical managers not looking for technical things in a phone screen. ‘Cause it’s easy to probe for technical skills in a phone screen. Brian’s article gave me some insights as to why. His point #2:
I would think less of a tester who was unwilling to learn those things(testers learning a little programming). What’s interesting to me is that everyone I consider a reasonable tester would agree with me. Programming sticks out (to me) as somehow being treated specially: it’s a burden many testers think they should be exempt from.
So here are the lessons I learned from this column:
- Some managers are not putting enough emphasis on a tester’s ability to perform technical work such as programming.
- Maybe because of this, or just because of personal preferences, they don’t screen for the ability to perform technical work.
- This causes a homogeneous group, certainly a candidate for a second-class testing group.
While it might be tempting to learn more about a person’s fit with the group, use a technical phone screen to screen for technical abilities. (Don’t forget the dirt-bag phone screen, but that’s not a substitute for a technical phone screen.) There is no point interviewing someone in person who doesn’t have the technical skills to perform the job — no matter how nice a person the candidate is. That’s why asking technical questions in a phone screen helps you create a diverse, capable group of people.