Test Community Spotlight: 5 Mistakes to Avoid When Hiring Automation Engineers

This post is apart of our Test Community Spotlight Program, where we highlight personal experiences from testers and QA professionals around the world. To participate, apply here.

It’s a pity when companies end up hiring automation engineers who are not a good fit or lack key skills — a complete waste of company’s time and money. It has a ripple effect: an incompetent automation engineer will lead to poor designing, installing, testing, and managing of automation processes. This will have a serious impact on various business processes, leading to a sloppy and inefficient style of working.

Businesses rely on automation engineers to give them a competitive advantage. If the wrong person is put in charge of the automation process, the results will be disastrous. To ensure you pick the good ones from the bad, avoid making these five mistakes when hiring automation engineers.

Let’s dive in:

  1. Focusing only on the resume

A resume is an exaggerated version of one’s previous work. If it’s the only yardstick you are using to select candidates, you’ll never know their actual capability or their lack of it.

Recruiters need to come up with a comprehensive system to assess not just the technical abilities of the candidate, but their soft skills as well (remember, they’ll be working in a team). A quick glance at a resume won’t help you find that.

Use pre-employment assessment tools to evaluate essential skills that will make the candidate a perfect fit for your company — find each candidate’s prowess in the field of automation and their capability to smartly manage teams.

  1. Using recruiters with no technical knowledge

Recruiters with little to no technical knowledge usually look for automation engineers through random searches on job portals. As a result, the candidate selection process is very haphazard, leading to a mix of profiles which might not be relevant to the job description.

Only the best recruiters can find the best automation engineers. Invest in training recruiters in order to hire good talent swiftly.

Here are a few ways to build a world-class recruitment team:

  • Agree on the candidate profile. To avoid the haphazard search for candidates first, establish the profile you require. Recruiters can efficiently zero down on candidates that match the ideal profile.
  • Review interview questions. Do a pilot run of interview questions to find out which ones are offering useful insights and which ones are not. Post-review, create a database where you can keep adding and removing questions for enhancing the interview process.
  • Collect feedback. Document the feedback from candidates to understand their side of the experience; what they liked and didn’t about the interview process. Their two cents will help you shape up a recruitment system that attracts competent automation engineers.

  1. Banking on coding quizzes

Good automation engineers test, great ones code. In recent years, there has been a shift from testers who can code to coders who can test. That’s why determining the coding ability of candidates has become a quintessential aspect of the hiring process.

However, recruiters make the mistake of giving generic coding quizzes to candidates. The problem is solutions are easily available on Google, allowing anybody to cheat their way in.

Instead, create real-life coding simulations which evaluates the candidate’s true coding ability. The idea is to see if the coding standards match the standards of the production code. This will give you insight into whether the candidate can create a testing framework that is simple to understand, easy to maintain, and follows all the internal policies.

  1. Preferring candidates with automation color blindness

Candidates who only see a pass-fail test but cannot explain why there is a difference in test results, won’t add much value to your test automation process. In fact, competent automation engineers simultaneously test and learn.

Exploratory testing, coined by Cem Kaner is an approach where automation engineers continuously use test-related learning to improve their work. It’s not just presenting test results, but investigating the rationale behind a successful or a failed test automation.

As part of your testing simulation, ask candidates to create test log. This will help:

  • Test ideas at the starting point of testing.
  • Analyze the root cause analysis of the problems or faults, if any.
  • Encourage candidates to look for alternatives to test the application.

  1. Building a homogeneous team

Modern-day test automation requires a mix of critical thinking and creativity which can never come from people who have similar thought-processes. It’s only when you have a team with different backgrounds that you’re able to take in every scenario and run tests against them.

Say your application is catered to a wide variety of users: teenagers, millennials and baby boomers. Each demographic will interact with your app in a different way. You can foresee all possible scenarios only when you have a team of automation engineers of different ages.

Basically, bring diversity to your team to improve automation process — here's how:

  • Use AI screening tools. Skip the manual screening which invites biases instead, use AI. It screens the resumes by matching the requirements of the job description and the merits of the candidate.
  • Minority referrals. Hire through referrals from minority groups working in your company. This brings a large number of diverse people in the recruitment process effortlessly.
  • Create a diversity page. Show that your company not only encourages, but also celebrates diversity, instantly attracting talent from all over.

Winding up

The role of automation engineers is something we at Hiver take very seriously. The list of mistakes mentioned come from personal experience (we were new, young, and a bit foolish). We learnt the ropes, and created an efficient recruitment system which helped us get the best talent.

I am sure there are other companies which are still making one or the other mistakes. Hopefully, this article will help them identify and rectify such errors.

By Niraj RanJan Rout

Niraj Ranjan Rout is the founder of Hiver, a powerful email management and collaboration tool. When not working at Hiver on programming or customer support, Niraj likes to play guitar. Niraj can be reached on Twitter @nirajr.

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