Building the Largest Community of Software Testers: Q&A with Kiril Yunakov
Hi Kiril, and thank you for your time! First of all, could you explain what you do at Applause?
I joined the Community Management Operations Team at Applause in 2017. Throughout the past two years, I’ve been mostly working on finding new testers for our upcoming projects, making our stakeholders happy and improving our data reporting processes.
uTest is the brand under which our community of testers operates. We work with a very large community of vetted testers from around the world, with people from different backgrounds – software skills, hardware skills, etc. There are also projects for which we need to find people who meet a specific set of criteria, and this is where our team comes into play. Our team is involved in recruiting testers for three specific reasons.
- If the project is outside the regular testing
- If we look for testers with a very specific profile
- If both of these things are combined
What do you like most about your job?
In Community Management, we have touchpoints with basically every other department in the company, from Finance, Engineering and Sales to Marketing, Delivery and so on. This makes our roles very dynamic and diverse. There are countless opportunities for collaboration with other stakeholders...and this interview is a good example!
Another aspect that's making the job so unique is the mix of marketing and project management. Here, you are basically the project owner for tester recruitment and you can own multiple different projects at the same time. I really love the variety of projects and tasks I can work on. Since every project is a bit unique, this makes every approach we use different. All projects are very different from the others, but there are some patterns. This is where we learn the most because it allows us to make tests, compare results and drive conclusions.
On which type of projects do you enjoy working the most?
I really enjoy a good challenge. The projects that seem impossible at first glance, but we end up accomplishing are my favorites. Of course, it is quite easy for me to say this now, but everything is possible and we never say “no” to any project. In the end, I believe everything is achievable when you have solid data to start with. Even when you don’t have the data, you can still make your own in-depth research, test your approach and then come up with a suitable strategy.
We recently had a project for which we had to find testers who were willing to install an external device in their home network to test their Internet speed. The main challenge was to overcome the trust barrier we had with people who were new to our community. It was a big challenge in the beginning, but we found a way to address all of their concerns and put their minds at ease.
Many people are wondering how our testers get trained and verified. Can you explain how this goes?
We provide training programs through the uTest Academy, which is the closest simulation to a real paid testing project. We have five different levels:
- Introduction to testing for new uTest members
- Computers testing for beginner-level testers
- Mobile device testing for intermediate-level testers
- Charles proxy testing for advanced testers
- Academy Challenge for experienced testers
Thanks to the uTest Academy, testers learn how to write clear bug reports, complete test cases, communicate with the team via chat, and submit high-quality screenshots as well as video and log attachments. They have the possibility to improve their tester rating by participating frequently and by submitting bugs in various cycles. We really provide them with everything they need in order to become successful QA testers.
What are your criteria for selecting testers? How do you know if a tester fits a given project?
Typically, our Testing Services Team does the final selection and decides whether testers are eligible for a project or not. These criteria are highly dependant on the project itself. For example, if we need people who have a proven record of successful functional testing and have the capacity to participate in a specific project, we send them an invitation to take part. When we have a set of very specific criteria, we send them a survey.
The good thing is that testers have the opportunity to evolve within the community. We built uTest with the idea of incentivizing passionate testers to grow professionally. That means that some of our ‘superstar testers’ have become Test Team Leads or Test Engineers over time – and we are very close to many of them. They sometimes assist us by suggesting skilled colleagues of theirs when we struggle to find people that fit for a very specific project. Our rating system allows us to very easily identify skilled and reliable testers for specific purposes.
What are some of the challenges you have faced so far related to recruiting and onboarding testers at Applause, and how have you overcome them?
I am glad you’re asking this. Usually, people think that finding testers is hard. Actually, it is relatively easy. However, finding the right testers is really hard. Of course, it depends on the project, but we apply a real marketing funnel here as well. That means you need a good amount of people at the beginning of your ‘recruiting funnel’ in order to come up with a good selection of potential testers at the end.
We started the uTest Academy about a year ago and this was a game changer for us. The level of interaction it brings, together with the quality of the courses and the quick response rate of our Test Team Leads with the new testers, all make it a valuable tool that delivers great results. To give you an example, we had 850+ new graduates in May of this year. Our team is really proud of the uTest Academy and all credits for this should go to our Senior Manager in Community Management, Jeremiah Dargis. He is the main driver behind it! The uTest Academy has had a huge positive impact on our job, and ultimately, on our results.
How can testers apply and become part of the Applause/uTest community?
This is super easy. Just go to www.utest.com and create your account. It only takes a minute. Once you have your account ready, you can start exploring. Take a look at our forum, get started with the uTest Academy courses (especially if you are new to the QA world!), and then keep an eye on our Project Board so you can apply to projects that are a good fit.