Recruiting for testers – a hiring perspective

In recent times I have been heavily involved in hiring testers. This is includes fine tuning the hiring process, screening CV’s, interviews, take home exercises and so forth. It also includes spending time with recruiters. I have found two aspects of hiring interesting and we’ll look at one vital component of the process in this post.


I have found recruiters fall into two categories – those that listen and those that don’t. I have met some very good recruiters who have gone out of their way to build a rapport before trying to sell me their wares. I have appreciated this as I have found that they’ve listened to what we were after (our ‘requirements’ if you will) and we got to know each other better. This is important as testing (and the tech business) is about people after all. An example of this is when I recently spoke at a testing conference in Melbourne, Australia (ATD2K16) – three people from the same recruiting firm came to support me because we had established a very good relationship before hand!

Conversely, I have had the (mis) fortune of dealing with recruiters who seem to want to push their candidates onto you as if you owe them a favour! This is a big no-no for the simple fact that the recruiter has not bothered to connect with us and attempts to push their agenda as opposed to listening to what we require.

So with this in mind, here are so dos and don’t s (from a hiring tester perspective).


  1. …take time to know the person(s) involved in the hiring process (preferably a decision maker)
  2. …take time to build a rapport with that person, be interested in the hirer before you talk shop
  3. …understand who the hiring client is – I have had recruiters know that I align with the context driven school of testing and they have attempted to understand what that means.
  4. …understand the requirements. For example, dropping the phrase ‘context driven testing expert’ onto a CV is going to get scrutinised closely (especially if you a context driven test shop and you call yourself an expert). I had this happen and the credibility of the recruiter (in my eyes) took a hit.
  5. …get a feel for what testing is and some of the challenges testers face. This can useful when empathising with the client
  6. …note that when clients are asking for technical skills that doesn’t automatically automation
  7. … know that good communication MOSTLY means good comprehension (not just the ability to talk or write)
  8. …keep in touch periodically – I appreciate a quick call or email at the appropriate time
  9. …find out something interesting about the candidate and put in the CV. I like finding out what makes person stand out (for example community service or blogs they write or talks they’ve given)
  10. …do provide a cover email or cover letter that summarises the candidate. This usually provides more context than a CV and is extremely useful


  1. …try and circumvent the hiring process as this can become annoying (unless you’ve already got a good rapport with the hirer)
  2. …litter buzzwords throughout the CV and hope that the client will miss it and assume that the candidate knows what they are talking about
  3. …be pushy – things will happen when they happen (its not like hiring teams look to make things really drawn out, complicated and slow). And we do understand the need for timely feedback
  4. …try and make us feel guilty for your candidate NOT making the grade. Despite what you think, that particular person just did not meet our requirements
  5. …assume you know testing if you haven’t worked as a tester – theory and real world experience are two different things
  6. …assume certification makes a difference – it usually doesn’t. Experience counts for more
  7. …think that because a CV has the necessary skills listed does not mean that person is a “fit”. A CV is only one reflection of the potential candidate
  8. …think that we would give answers or hints to about any tests that we may perform. We’ve run them enough times to know if a candidate has done good work or not.
  9. …think buying a hot chocolate makes us friends (but it might help)
  10. …spam us with CV’s – quality trumps quantity especially when the CV’s are not what we are after!

Whilst most recruiters have been (in the main) generally good, there are always the exceptions. Most do a good job and they help take most of the pain out of hiring. I appreciate those recruiters who look to do what’s best by us and not what’s best for them. They spend the time to build a rapport and they find ways to support.

Next post I will discuss hiring from the perspective of interviewing.

Brian Osman

About bjosman

Principal Consultant at OsmanIT

4 thoughts on “Recruiting for testers – a hiring perspective

  1. To explain to recruiters what kind of people I am looking for I play the T-shirt game (how many holes has this T-shirt got ( This exercise explains far better what I am on about than me brabbling onabout who I want. And recruiters tend to really get it! 🙂

    Another pet peeve are bad and/or boilerplate CVs. This is your most important document in your work career (your degree pales in comparison!) so how much time and effort are you spending on getting it just right? As an interviewer I can see that. And I actually give bonus points for really putting yourself out there (but I am certainly an exception). Which is also an issue with recruiters because most will have filtered these CVs out or told people to do (boring) XYZ CV.

  2. Brian ,

    Enjoyed your post – I agree with a lot of what you have written and believe that screening questions, tests and Case Studies assist both technical hiring manager’s and recruiters get better results.

    Thank you for sharing. Look at my profile for article about targeted cv’s.

  3. A very insightful post.

    I think that people sometimes forget that they are hiring an actual human being instead of another resource that can be used to get the work done faster.
    Society and the workplace today are both very emotionally charged and people find that it is much easier to work with others who are more relate able to themselves as It promotes a more positive environment where teammates and co workers will help each other achieve success much more willingly when they share common interests.

    Thanks for sharing.

  4. Pingback: Testing Bits – 7/10/16 – 7/16/16 | Testing Curator Blog

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