Why I Recruit Based Upon a Belief System

Recruitment is very time consuming and also very difficult in my experience. It’s a bit like buying a house, if the right house isn’t on the market when you’re looking, do you just “settle” for the next best thing or do you drop out of the market and come back later? Unfortunately, when we’re recruiting it’s usually because we need some NOW!

I’ve recruited hundreds of Testers and Test Managers over the past 25 years and have developed several tools to assist me along the way. Behind these tools is my inherent belief that we can teach someone technical and business skills, but we can’t teach them how to be. How to be is usually what matters most when being with other humans. During my later years (since I turned 45) I have applied a rule to my own job searching and that simple rule is that I have to “like” the people I am working with. So, the obvious question is “How do you work out if you like these people”? For me it’s quite simple – I listen to and watch how the people interviewing me respond to various questions and answers that I provide. It usually takes me less than 5 minutes to decide this, so the rest of the interview is about enjoying the chat or working out how to close it down.

When I’m the one doing the recruiting I use my “A to Z of Beliefs” to determine whether I want someone on my team. This list is not cast in stone and I usually share it with my management team so that we can massage it for the specific company or project. The way it works is that we look for specific qualities in the people we are interviewing and if they possess more that 80% of the qualities we believe are important then we offer them a job. Obviously some qualities are more important than others and therefore we usually prioritise the “Top 3” and make sure these three are always present.

You may question some of the beliefs listed below, but as I said these are my beliefs in relation to what is important in creating an effective software testing team. So, here is my current “A to Z of Beliefs” that I recruit to:
Bravery (in making decisions)
Daring (to be different)
Family & Friends
Healthy Lifestyle
Justice (for all)
Knowledge (the quest for learning)
Love (for one another)
New Ideas (open to)
Understanding (of others)
Xcellence (yes, I know that’s a slight cheat)
Youthful (in attitude, not necessarily years)

This approach has worked really well for me in both assessing prospective employees and employers. I’ll be very interested to hear your thoughts on this approach and list.

Dateline: March 12, 2013; Melbourne

2 thoughts on “Why I Recruit Based Upon a Belief System

  1. Hi Colin
    Thanks for sharing your thoughts. Very useful as always.
    I am wondering if you could give me more insights on how differently you approach to recruit Permanent staff to Contractors to consultants as i believe people apply for each of these roles/employment types have different drivers, ambitions and goals and it is very important to judge their suitability for the employment type. From my experience i have seen people who have excelled as contractors have only showed mediocre performance as permanent staff.

    I am interested to know whether you have any tool or technique that you use to determine the suitability of the person to the type of employment.

    Thanks in anticipation.

    • Hi Niranjan,

      Thanks for your kind words and thanks for the question.

      In my experience and based upon my own preferences, I do not believe in discriminating between permanent, contract or consultant staff. The reason for this is that I expect everyone to contribute in the same way, no matter what their employment status. My thinking behind this is based upon the fact that I have worked in all of these modes and I NEVER function differently based upon my employment status. If you intend to work as either a permanent employee, a contractor or a consultant your work ethic (and your belief system) should be the same, otherwise you end up not being true to yourself and that never works. Therefore, my Belief System checklist is no different no matter what type of team member I am looking to recruit.

      As an addendum to my article this morning, I should add that of the 100’s of people I have hired over the years, to date I have only made one misreading of a potential candidate and this was after referring the person for a second and third interview because they were borderline and we were ” desperate”. What actually happened in this case was that we offered this person a permanent job, with the proviso that their references checked out (and with the usual three months probation period). however, they never came on board because we got some negative information during the reference check.

      I hope this helps.


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