Back in 2009, when Tap|QA kicked off its “nearshore” solution to quality assurance consulting, cost was the biggest concern. “We needed to get low-cost people, so we needed to look at aptitude rather than experience,” said founder and Managing Partner Michael Faulise. While Tap|QA now hires experienced QA people as well as beginners, the attitude is still that good hires live outside the box.

“To me, there are two fundamental things we care about,” Michael Faulise said. “First, creativity. A QA person needs to think of different ways to break something. Second is the analytical piece–the testing approach has to be well documented. Anybody can be a good cook if you have a good recipe.”

Innovative Training

Tap|QA initially set out to find entry-level workers with little or no QA background, using innovative training to get them quickly ramped up. “Where do you find both creativity and analytical ability? There’s a great opportunity in musicians. Most musicians are starving musicians,” Michael Faulise said. Because communication is another important skill, he said, “I started looking for people who were bartenders. If I can find people who were servers or bartenders, they have learned to listen to people and get it right.”

Starting with those basics, Faulise said, “Fast forward five or six years and we’ve built something successful.” He’s also learned that, “What motivates our people is learning–that is this new, fascinating thing. The number one reason people fail is they aren’t learning enough. We have to have all the latest toys.”

In the beginning, Tap|QA’s workforce development focused on a “boot camp” approach for entry-level employees. Now, with a need for mid-level and senior-level people, “Our internal training is much different from before. We’re helping people advance,” Michael Faulise said. That includes selecting the right opportunities for career expansion. “Best Buy, with four million emails a year, is very different from Toyota, which is much more technical, with devices integrated into the technology. We try to make sure we don’t have the same person on the same project for more than couple of years,” Faulise said.

Finding Diamonds in the Rough

The hiring process usually starts with Recruiting Director Kirk Walton, then moves on to delivery directors Andrew Birkholz and Rick Faulise. “Our interview process has been very informal,” Birkholz said. “We make a person feel comfortable. It’s more of a conversation. They’re worried we’re going to make them write some program on the wall. We find diamonds in the rough, people other companies have overlooked. People with computer science, on paper they would be great. It doesn’t always pan out that way.”

“The best people come from liberal arts backgrounds,” Rick Faulise said. “They know how to put the notes together. They know when 4+2 is 4.”

Rick Faulise uses this example about thinking creatively in quality assurance: “If you were to think about testing a log-in screen–most people would think you test a valid log-in and an invalid log-in. I would write a minimum of six tests: Valid, invalid, no user name and valid password, valid user name and valid password for a different user. I’d use unfamiliar characters, I’d log in and hit back and then forward. What I’m thinking isn’t how the developer built it–are they just pinging the database for valid names? You’re twisting functionality. What if both my wife and I have a password for the same account?”

Rick Faulise added, “Most technical interviews are check boxes. We want to know more about what they’ve done, what their passions are. We’re looking for people who like to challenge themselves and pick up new things.”

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