Are you looking for a new job or want to become a more hirable tester? In today’s episode of Quality Sense, Federico Toledo invites his first guest from the team at Abstracta, Stephanie Gordiola. You may recognize her on LinkedIn as the one who spreads the word most often of new opportunities to work at Abstracta!

“Steph” is a psychologist and English teacher who has been on our team for two years, recruiting, interviewing, and helping to hire software testers from all over, with different levels of experience and areas of expertise. Among other things, she’s helped us to hire 52 testers and counting. Listen to today’s episode if you want an inside look into our software testing recruiting and hiring processes (40% of our team members have been at Abstracta for at least 4 years).

Episode Highlights:

  • What testers should keep in mind when going through the recruitment process
  • The importance of soft skills and how recruiters can assess them
  • Allowing for authenticity and how it enriches a company’s diversity
  • Ways to increase the chances of hiring someone who is a great fit
  • Things you should do every day to get better at a foreign language

Relevant Links:

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Episode Transcript:

Federico:

Hello, Steph. I am so happy to have you here. Thank you for joining our show today. How are you doing?

Steph:

Hello, Fede. Thank you for inviting me. I’m really happy to be here as well.

Federico:

My first question for you is, how did you, as a psychologist, end up working in the software industry and particularly now in a software testing company?

Steph:

Well, as you may know, psychology has quite a wide work field. We have many different things to do and occupational psychology is one of them. To be honest, when I was studying, I didn’t consider working in this field, but once I graduated, I thought to give it a try with a HR course that I tried. And once I started doing it, I thought that, well, it might be quite interesting to do it. I thought that I could do it for a living. So that gave me my first experience, which was in another IT company.

And after that experience, as you know, Nico, one of the Abstracteros, he’s a friend of mine. Nico told me that at Abstracta you were in need of a new recruiter for the team. So I sent my CV, I did all my interviews with Lu, and here I am.

Federico:

Cool. So, you like it so far?

Steph:

Yeah, I really like it because working at Abstracta, I have the chance to do many things, so it’s kinda hard to get bored. When I work as a recruiter, I meet a lot of people and that’s great, but I also have the chance to do other things, participating in different processes. So, that makes me very happy and I’m really glad to be here.

Federico:

Yeah. I am going to mention something that we’ve been collaborating a lot on. It was an idea that came out last year, I think. Steph, you are also helping different teams moderate the retrospective meetings and I think that your contribution in that is amazing.

Steph:

Well, that’s a great experience. It was a very big challenge for me because I had never tried that kind of activity, but it’s been great.

I think moderating retrospectives, as someone from our People Care team, is a great way to also know the team better, the people better, and help them to communicate in different ways to kind of solve different issues that may appear in the different projects. 

So, it’s a great experience as well.

Federico:

So, our main topic today is related to recruiting software testers, because it’s basically been one of your main activities for the past two years or so?

Steph:

Yeah, it is.

Federico:

I think the insights you can share are beneficial for leaders who are recruiting talent or recruiting testers and also for testers who are trying to apply for a position; understanding the processes and the things that psychologists take into account when conducting interviews. I think it’s really beneficial. So can you start by telling us briefly, describing the processes of how you recruit software testers?

Steph:

Yeah, well. I always say to candidates our process might be a bit long, but of course there is a reason for that. It’s because we really want to first know the person that we’re interviewing, but also we want that person to be there because we really want them to be there. You know? So it has a reason for that.

But you know, to be brief, we start by receiving CV’s. If we think that a CV might be a good fit for any of our open positions or maybe for future positions that we may have, we ask them to send us a brief personal presentation which includes a part in Spanish and also a part in English. That way, we can start seeing that part as well. If we think that person might be a good fit regarding our culture, we set up the interview with the People Care team, which is usually with me.

After that, I send them a technical test, which will vary depending on the position. You know, if it is a functional tester, it may be a functional test or if it is a more technical test or whatever. And if it goes well, once we get that feedback, we have a technical interview with one of the leaders, sometimes more than one. Like I said, depending on the type of the position that we have, we’ll have a different Abstracta tester for the interview.

Federico:

You collaborate with other people on the team to do the interviews?

Steph:

Exactly. From the beginning, I think that it’s very important to have the vision of the leaders of the other members of the team. You know, if it is for a specific project, we like to have information about the different tasks that the person will have. So we try to do it as teamwork from the beginning.

Federico:

Great. And I guess it’s also important too, to get to know the people that you are going to be working with, right?

Steph:

Exactly, exactly. So if it is for a specific project that we already have in mind, we try to have the leader of that project in the last interview so that they get to know each other in advance.

Federico:

Perfect. And which soft skills would you consider are important? How do we evaluate them?

Steph:

Wow, yeah. I think that one of the main things that we have to emphasize is communication. You know, not only spoken communication, but also written communication. We start assessing it in the candidate’s CV and in their personal presentation. We see if you’re able to be clear with what you’re saying, with expressing your ideas, also, this is something important, that being able to distinguish between the different contexts, what we call the register. It’s not the same if you’re going to have a call with your co-workers than if you’re having a call with a client, for example. That kind of thing is very important.

I think that it’s also very important to actually enjoy working in teams. You know, I always say not only in the software field, but also in most of the areas where we work. What we do affects the work of others. So I think that it’s very important that we, first, respect that and try to be responsible with that. 

You know, it’s not only your work, but it’s other people’s work as well. And also enjoy it, enjoy working with people, sharing knowledge, learning from others. I think that’s a very important aspect that we need to have when we’re working at Abstracta.

Federico:

Do you remember any particular situation where you found the person you were interviewing showing you this aspect in a good way?

Steph:

I think that it’s something that is hard to explain because once I’m talking with them, I can feel it from the way they express it when I ask them. I’ll say something like, “Okay, so do you like working with people? Do you prefer to work on your own? Tell me about any specific experience that you’ve had…” and when they bring it up, telling me that they really appreciate learning from others and working in a team and solving things together. That’s a good way to know that they are not faking it.

Federico:

Cool.

Steph:

If I have to think specifically about testers, I’d say that attention to detail is important, also being able to manage your time, to get well organized, to have critical thinking, be a true problem solver, that kind of thing. But yeah, I will say that those are the main soft skills, but  not the only ones.

Federico:

Perfect. There are a lot…

Steph:

There are a lot yeah, yeah. But these are the ones that I think are the most important.

Federico:

Okay. And do you have any advice on how to improve these types of skills?

Steph:

What I think may be the first thing to bear in mind is to actually pay attention to them, because sometimes people, not only juniors, I see it also in seniors – focus too much on the technical skills. It doesn’t mean that they are not important of course, but I think that they are kind of easier to learn and to practice. But when it comes to soft skills, I think that the first thing you need to do is to pay attention, like monitor yourself, to see how you communicate with others, how you feel in the different situations that you face at work and also in your personal life.

So you can start seeing it from a different perspective and see where you need to work on. But well, apart from that, I always say that it’s very important to always be open to receiving feedback from others, not taking that feedback as something personal, but just as a way for you to learn and to grow. I think that will help you to work on the other skills that you may need to improve.

Federico:

So then it’s really important to be aware, right? We have to pay attention to how to improve according to what others can advise you, right?

Steph:

Exactly. Yeah. But that’s the first thing, to pay attention to them and to accept that we may need to improve those things, even if we don’t really like to at first. We all have something to improve.

Federico:

I think that one of the most important things in our company at Abstracta is to give new people opportunities. But also it’s crucial to take care of the people that are already working great on the team. 

So, this implies to take care of the culture and there is a quote I would like to read for you, which is, 

“Fitting in is best interpreted as pieces of a puzzle that fit together[…] Fitting in is not about finding people who are similar; it’s about finding those who are compatible.” 

JURGEN APPELO

Is there anything that you have learned that helps to recognize when someone is compatible with a company and with a team and therefore with the culture?

Steph:

Yeah. I think that could really make a lot of sense for how we work at Abstracta, like our vision of the team. I think that it’s very important that people understand that we don’t want them all to be the same. But what we do want is, being who they are, that they find a way to add value and to continue helping, creating that culture that we are building, right? Our culture of cooperation and also friendship, if you want to call it that.

I think that you can be whoever you want to be, but what is not negotiable for me and for us at Abstracta has to do with respect, with how you treat others and the level of commitment that you have for your work

If you really understand the value of that and the importance of adding value to what you’re doing, if you understand that and if you did. I think that what we want people to do is to find a way to add value while being who they are. You know, we don’t want everyone to be all the same.

I think that diversity is very rich at Abstracta. We’re all very different and I think that makes it what it is, but the important thing that we all have in common is that we really appreciate sharing with others.”

STEPH GORDIOLA

Federico:

Yeah. I think we work typically eight hours a day, so we can’t be faking it [pretending to be someone we are not] all that time.

Steph:

No, that would be too hard.

Federico:

Yeah, Exactly. So another question related to part of the process. Maybe after we hire someone, have you noticed some people adapting better than others? Maybe have you adjusted your recruitment process in order to find better potential fits according to that?

Steph:

Yeah, it has happened. I mean, I always say that even though we do have many tools to kind of predict behavior and to actually meet people and see how they are, we don’t really see them until they are in action, once they are working in their context, working with the people, that’s when we actually see how they are. And sometimes it happens that they have more difficulties than others maybe because it’s their first job experience or maybe due to different personal reasons.

I think that what has made a big difference here is to work in teams with Lucia, who is another member of the People Care team. As you know, Lucia has been working at Abstracta for more than five years. So she has a very deep knowledge of the team, of the culture, what to expect, even across the different projects. So [she and I] work a lot together, especially when we have some cases where we may find it more difficult to recruit. And I think that that has helped us a lot to have a more complete view. It doesn’t mean that it’s not going to happen, when a new hire doesn’t adapt well, because that’s what happens when you work with people. You don’t know what’s going to happen, but I think that we have made better choices and we are still working on that.

Federico:

What message do you have for a Junior Tester, who is possibly listening to this podcast and thinking about sending his or her resume to recruiters. Do you have any advice?

Steph:

Well, first of all, I’d say I know that it sometimes might be frustrating to look for a job. I always see in LinkedIn, many posts of people saying that they’ve applied for many, many jobs and they didn’t even get a single reply, which I know that must be very frustrating. So, first of all, don’t give up, it might be a long process, but if you continue training and if you believe that you actually have the skills, like I always say, eventually someone will believe in you and they will give you the chance to be part of their team.

But never stop learning, that’s what I would say. If you have some free time, now that we have many online resources, try to use them. Continue learning, start doing a lot of networking, especially with LinkedIn. Have [your profile] updated and have a lot of connections with people in the field, recruiters and also other testers. And yeah continue trying until you have that chance. I would say that.

Federico:

For sure. Steph, you’re also an English teacher. We typically have most of our clients in the United States and in other countries where we communicate in English. My question is, how do you evaluate the English skills of the candidates?

Steph:

Well, like we mentioned in the first question, we ask first for a brief personal presentation. A written presentation, where we ask them about past experience in English. And after that, during the interview, we have a conversation in English. That conversation will depend on the level of the candidate, right? If it is very basic, we ask very simple questions and that’s it. If the candidate shows that they have a quite good level of English, we continue with more complex questions.

Federico:

And is there any particular way you recommend candidates to improve their level of English?

Steph:

Yeah. I always say that the main thing and what makes a big difference is to try to consume as much English as you can. In your daily life, listen to music in English, try to watch shows, movies, videos in general, tutorials, everything you can in English. If you still need to use subtitles, have them in English, so you can start associating sounds with words and stuff.

I will also suggest if you have people around you who are also practicing English, for example, at work, try to have an English day or some day where you have meetings in English, where you can practice, not only comprehension, but also pronunciation. You know, speaking or in some cases, if you can practice some writing. I’ve heard of people who play online games with people from other countries and they interact.

If you’re into video games, that might be also a good option for you. And so I also recommend you to follow a different English Institutes. For example, Inc. and Bike are a couple organizations that teach English at our company, for our team. For example, Inc has a tip of the week where every Friday, they usually share some different vocabulary, maybe some words that we usually mispronounce and we have no idea of that or different slang words that are common nowadays. And we may not know how to use it, and it’s quite funny. So in general, I will say that, try to add some English to your daily routine every day.

Federico:

Yeah. There is another thing that is connected to something you mentioned before. I think networking is great for many things. And now with LinkedIn and so many professionals around the world, it’s really easy to connect with someone and jump on a call and have a small conversation discussing the last tool you tried, or that you’re looking for a position or asking for advice to others, because people typically accept this kind of invitation and we are all here to help each other. 

Steph:

Yeah, don’t be afraid to kind of expose yourself to that because that’s how we learn, right? If you never try, you never know. That’s what they say.

Federico:

So I’d like to know what habits do you have in order to improve productivity? Paying attention to the small things that we do every day, we can improve our productivity and with that, our use of our time. And that’s connected even with our happiness.

Steph:

Yeah, totally. I think that’s something that I’ve been trying kind of recently, it doesn’t have to do specifically with tech, but I think that it works for everyone which is meditation. It’s great because there are different types of meditations, depending if you want something long, something shorter, if you want to focus on your body, on your breathing, or if you want to be doing more around compassion.

But I think that it’s a great tool. First of all, for you to train your brain, to be more present, in the moment to start, kind of managing your thoughts. Sometimes it happens when you’re working right, that you start having different thoughts and you stop doing what you were doing, because you remember something else. By meditating, you start kind of training your brain for that, for being mainly more present and also to reduce your stress, to reduce your anxiety. Nowadays most of us have a lot of pressure in our daily lives. It’s great to take some time for yourself, some kind of self care and give yourself time for that. It will also have an effect on your daily work. So I totally recommend it.

Federico:

Yeah, for sure. It’s really, really important to pay attention to ourselves, also what our body and mind are trying to tell us, right?

Steph:

Totally, yeah. Don’t forget about yourself.

Federico:

Yeah. Do you have any book or maybe a podcast or YouTube video or something to recommend our listeners to pay attention to?

Steph:

Well, related to this that we were saying about meditation and paying attention to ourselves, I totally recommend you the podcast, The Everything Else, by Mercedes Remedi, the Director of Inc. and Vera Babat, our Chief People Officer. I think that it’s a great way on the one hand to practice your English, your listening skills, like with this podcast, but also it’s a very, it’s an interesting way to reflect on things that we may not think about, so often regarding soft skills, they talk about communicating better, being more connected with ourselves and with others. I totally recommend that podcast.

Federico:

I see. Is there anything else, do you want to invite our listeners to?

Steph:

Yes, of course. Like I said, we are always willing to meet new people in Abstracta, it doesn’t matter if we have a specific position open or not. So if you feel that you would like to work with us and you think that you might be a good fit, please send us your CV. We have different places where we can receive it. We have an email that is [email protected]s. You can also reach out and view positions from our careers page. And you can also reach out to me on LinkedIn so we can make a connection and start seeing what we have in mind.

Federico:

Amazing, Steph. Thank you so much for your time and telling us about recruiting software testers. It was a pleasure.

Steph:

Thank you for that. It was my pleasure.

Federico:

Right, right.

Steph:

Bye. Bye.


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