Dawn Cannan is a software test evangelist who has been working to integrate testers as members of software development teams and improving the working relationships between testers, developers, and everyone else for the past 9 years. When not speaking at testing and agile conferences and user group meetings, she spends her time working in the open source community on the .NET version of SeleNesse, a plugin making it possible to create Selenium tests in FitNesse. She also writes actively, publishing articles and posting to her blog at passionatetester.com. Dawn is a DZone MVB and is not an employee of DZone and has posted 8 posts at DZone. You can read more from them at their website. View Full User Profile
Hiring misses: When we turn someone down for the wrong reasons
Filtering through hundreds of resumes can be a daunting task. Some
people use recruiting agencies to help them filter the obvious misses,
some go through all of them manually (I tend to fall into the latter
group). Since I've recently been filtering through resumes again, I am
reminded of a time when I learned first-hand just how much I missed out
on when I didn't hire someone for something that today, I would find
It was 2007, and I had just gotten a
job with a local nonprofit, starting their QA department from scratch
(they had *zero* testers before me!). I sat across the cubicle aisle
from a guy, let's call him Steve. Steve was a DBA, somewhat systems
guy, overall smart guy. On my third day, we were all across the street
at the pool hall playing pool at lunch time, when Steve finally decided
to out me. He looked at me and said something like, "Okay, I waited
until your third day. You don't recognize me, do you?"
I am sure that I spent a few seconds (felt like minutes), trying to
figure out who the heck he was. Why should I recognize him? ("Oh jeez,
did I go on a *date* with him?!?!")
(out of sympathy for my obvious flailing around a bunch of people I'd
only known for 2.5 days), he said, "You interviewed me at (company x).
Obviously, you didn't hire me."
I interviewed this guy and didn't remember him.
"Oh, God, please tell me I was at least courteous and professional with
you about it." (Not that I would be anything but....)
laughed and said that I had been (Thank *goodness* for that!), and that
he had been lacking in scripting skills. There was much joking about
the incident for a while (I told him he was lucky, that I had done him a
favor, that the company had since gone under.)
the next year and a half, I had the opportunity to work closely with
Steve. I got to know the way he thought about the world, the way he
approached problem solving, the way he thought through everything that
he did, and the pride he took in his work. We spent many long hours and
late nights working on problems together. We had a blast doing that,
of course -- calling in pizza, having fun, coming up with private memes
("red is bad, makes angry grr"). It wasn't long before I realized just
how dumb I had been for not hiring him when I had the chance. To this
day, I'd sacrifice a lot to convince him to come into testing (he likes
this DBA thing), and I'd hire him in heartbeat, without hesitation, any
where, any time.
And I didn't hire him because he
didn't have enough experience with scripting (something I could have
taught him in a few days, likely....).
realize that it's probably rare that people end up later working with
someone they chose not to hire after an interview. Even rarer, I think,
is compounding that with learning that they would have been a
To this day, I think very
carefully about what skills I choose not to hire over. I talk a lot
about looking for the "testing mindset", and I feel that there are very
few skills I cannot teach someone in a reasonable period of time. In
fact, when I think of the kind of people I look to hire, their
inquisitiveness and desire to learn usually mean that they can learn
technical skills in a fairly short time (certainly a lot shorter than
trying to teach someone with all of the technical skills I need to be
inquisitive and have a desire to learn!).