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I am in a critical situation. I have nearly 4 years of experience in QA doing manual and automation testing.

We have a total of 4 testers where I work. I am now the most experienced QA in our company. Our company wants to hire a QA with 6+ years of experience with a focus on manual testing. So our management told me to conduct phone screens and then schedule face to face interviews.

While I have started to take interviews, I am confused about whether I am doing them right because all the candidates have more experience than me. Selecting the right candidate is a very critical decision. Also, I have noticed that some candidates are not really able to answer some simple questions even though they have 6+ exp. in QA. How can I tell whether it's my questions that are too hard or if they simply lack a strong base in QA?

What should I do to address the situation?

  • 6
    Just some food for thought: if no one ever hired people with more experience than them, how would the people with the most experience ever get a job? – corsiKa Feb 5 '15 at 20:28
  • 2
    Possibly of interest is The Workplace, since this seems to be a question applicable to people not just in the QA field, but the general case of a person with lesser experience interviewing a person with more experience. – apnorton Feb 5 '15 at 22:49
  • @corsiKa - Yeah you are right.:) – Helping Hands Feb 6 '15 at 3:56
16

Don't be afraid, finding someone more senior than you is fun, your finding a teammate you can learn from. Do understand X+ years does not mean more senior, experience is something that does not necessarily come with time.

What do you expect from a candidate better then you?

  • At-least same basic level
  • A Senior should be able to teach, might need very good communication skills
  • Give them some functionality to create test-cases for
  • Let them write some plan

Also see:

My personal search criteria are:

  • Smart (Quick learner)
  • Make it happen mentality
  • Good communicator (including social skills and team player)
  • 2
    I would especially highlight the part about not being afraid. Don't let years of experience change your perception of the person you are interviewing. I have made many good hires of people with only a few years experience and have not been interested in people with 20+ years experience. Look for their ability to perform the job, not the number of years doing it. – Sam Woods Feb 5 '15 at 20:24
  • @SamWoods - Yes, exactly..I will do same. – Helping Hands Feb 6 '15 at 3:57
  • I would add one additional criteria - someone that you think that you and the rest of the team will be able to work with - e.g.: there are some people who communicate well that they think everybody around them are a waste of space. – Steve Barnes Feb 11 '15 at 22:33
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    @SteveBarnes I fully agree, someone should fit the team and should be a team player. In software development ego's and loners don't work. – Niels van Reijmersdal Feb 12 '15 at 8:11
6

I'm the team leader of a software development team in a software development company. I work together with 5 to 7 other software developers. I regularly interview people that are more experienced than I am. Also, some of my employees are more experienced than I am (in years and in technical knowledge).

This is what helps me in my role as an interviewer:

  • My personal technical knowledge is high enough to judge if an applicant is qualified or not. My technical skills don't need to be higher than the applicant's; they only need to be high enough to make the judgement: Qualified / Not qualified.
  • I am the interviewer, because the management trusts my judgement.
  • For the team, I'm looking for the best candidates. So I always hope to find someone who is more skilled than I am, because finding talented people is my job and I want to do my job right.

Also I can confirm, that often candidates cannot answer basic technical questions, when put to the test, no matter how "experienced" they are. The few skilled people can answer the questions, so keep that part of the interview up.

I was nervous in my first interviews, too. But it gets better quite fast after some interviews.

  • Thanks you mark to share your real experience..Thanks for advice..It will help me a lot. – Helping Hands Feb 6 '15 at 3:59
5

Just because they have more experience than you, they may not be be a better Tester/QA than you. The phrase "One year of experience repeated n times." comes up because you do see this happen in industry. Thus, your first task during the interview should be to establish that they do indeed have the relevant experience and can present themselves as someone one that knows what they are doing.

Next, remember that a good senior tester is someone that you should be able to approach and asking about something that you have problems with. This is a good time to asking them some testing questions that you have had problems and see how they response and what their reasoning is in their explanation. Have they seen something similar before somewhere else, are they making an educated guess based upon experience.

Finally, another thing to look at is how they approach handling a problem. Give the candidate an example of one of the more esoteric bugs you have encountered and have them walk you through how they would approach the bug. Do they have some insight into the problem that is not immediately obvious?

you can also ask some complicated questions that could be made a lot easier. If the candidate is any good, he / she will not only try to solve the problem, but actually get to the real problem, showing you the flaws in your question. If he / she manages to do that in a polite way without intimidating you he / she is a keeper.

4

I've heard this phrase several times over the years, mostly from startups: "hire someone smarter than yourself". I suspect one element of smarts is experience. You should approach the interview asking, "what could this person teach me?" and if it's the right fit maybe you can teach them something too!

3

It is important that you conduct the interview because you can decide if that senior person will gel in with the rest of the team, work well with them ( and you ) and be a positive force for the team. Having more experience is alright, but working with a team is more critical and needs to be evaluated.

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