According to my 2011-2012 statistics hiring a software tester requires 5 interviews. An interview requires 5 CVs. This year we have to manage a growth again, 12+ vacancies are in H1 2013. This would require 60 interviews and 300 CVs. It’s pain to even think about that.

Last year’s statistic showed some other issues. We interview applicants very thoroughly, we have some tests and a good methodology to find real skill and capabilities, but still there are people, who are not able to pass probation. There are also some newcomers, who express his wish to move within the company, because the position we offered him is not the matching one, they are in love with another position.

In the beginning of 2013, when we reviewed vacancies with HR, we wanted to run away. We didn’t want to go on with the actual process, it was clear that it was not good enough, not effective enough to survive 2013 the same way as we did in the previous year. We needed to change.

HR ladies knew the solution: we need to develop an assessment center. I have never seen such before, they also have only partial information, so we asked for a training. The guy was really skilled, the course was not only a training. We were able to develop our assessment center program for senior testers.

I’m very proud of this. Sometimes ACs covers only HR things, excercises to assess soft skills, but evaluation of hard skills still requires an interview. We had different goals. We changed classic HR excercises with ones, which are able to indicate the level of hard skills as well. This enables us to have only 1 round in case of “mass” recruitment.

The agenda of the AC required some special attention. First is that we planned with only 4 hours, and then additional 2 for the evaluation. The timing needed to be in line with applicant’s time table, there shall be only a half day to be consumed. It was a requirement that all potential team leads shall meet the candidate. The AC has a 20 minutes (per candidate) part to meet team leaders.

The result has been a really good, enjoyable, interesting and agile assessment center, providing reliable information on applicants’ soft and hard skills.

Next week we will have the sixth one, but there are experiences already. The beginning of the AC contains excercises similar to the regular interview. After this section we note our impression, which is equal to the one we could gain with an interview. Then the AC moves on with excercises of teamwork, presentation, test process puzzle and such. At the end 20 % of applicants reaches opposite result than they have after the first session! Matching positions to applicants seems to be more effective too.

We still need to improve the process, the excercises and the organization. We have changed the process of evaluation, the process of selection and the excercises based on the experiences. The AC has become famous, leaders of other branches beg to be there as assessor.

I expect a lot of this method. The effectiveness of interviews is 35%, the AC has 75% according to others’ statistics, I’m really curious about ours.