This part was written by Amitai, Gizra’s CTO:
I found myself in interviews going over and over the same topics: who Gizra is, what we expect from candidates, and what they should expect from us.
So this is an attempt to provide this info, so you - the candidate - can read it without the stress of the interview.
Do We Fit Each Other?
Here’s what we expect to get from you:
Some intro to who you are. Being able to see how you present yourself, gives us some hint to your written communication skills. Don’t make it too long, or too short. Try to make it interesting and reflect best on your skills, and what you are looking for.
To save each other’s time, I’ll mention right off the bat that our QA salaries range between $2,500 to $3,000 per month (for full time), depending on experience and role. It’s probably not as high as one might get if one worked in a well-funded startup, though they are competitive, and - depending on the startup - more stable. An important factor is that by that salary we don’t have a sense of ownership on your time. We don’t assume you should work weekends or late nights. We don’t like wasting your time (and ours) with boring meetings. Instead, we are really focused on being productive, making a profit, and enjoying our work. Not necessarily in this order.
This position would be part-time, 80 hours per month. The hours are distributed over an entire work week instead of specific days in a week. It’s likely going to end up as a full-time position, depending on the workload.
Your contract will be for “Independent Contractor” as opposed to “Employee.” Having to deal with each country’s bureaucracy is something we gladly decided to avoid. There’s too much overhead for a company of our size, where employees are scattered all over the world. That means, the hassle of taxes, retirement and medical plans are to be your responsibility.
This also means we don’t mention sick days or holidays in the contract. So when telling us your hourly rate, you should take into account those days. We consider a month as 160 hours, so you can calculate your hourly rate accordingly.
Here’s the default contract we’ll use to draft your contract, so you can already go over it, and see if it’s something to your liking. Have you got a point in the contract that seems problematic for you for whatever reason? Speak up, maybe we can find a solution for it. Past experiences showed that many times we were able to find a common ground.
Common Difficulties for Newcomers
Over the years, we’ve noticed that new hires usually face the same difficulties. I’ll name them in order.
The way we work in Gizra isn’t unique, but also isn’t that common - every issue on GitHub gets a timebox (TB), normally between an hour to six. It is the Project Manager’s responsibility to assign a TB to an issue. The TB represents dev hours. Generally, we calculate 10% of that TB for QA time. The timebox is not a contractual “Do it in 4 hours or else…", instead it’s “We think it’s 4 hours, so now it should be clear to all stakeholders how much effort should be invested”. But what if the issue turns out to be more complicated; or the QA didn’t understand it properly; or the PM, made a mistake? We all know that these things happen with some frequency.
With the timebox in place, developers and QA have a very clear understanding on when to escalate to the PM.
The second thing is the case of which hours you need to register. Sometimes the wheels are turning in the background and staring into thin air is, most likely, part of work. We’re humans, and not machines. We’re not expecting anyone to keep typing for eight hours straight, and be at their maximum capacity of productivity.
The rule of thumb is quite simple. For every hour that you want to be paid, Gizra also wants to charge the client. By having the timebox in place, we make sure everybody is compensated for their efforts, while the client isn’t surprised at the end of the month when they are billed.
Keeping Track of Time
That is, the actual procedure of looking at the clock when you start a task, and looking again when you finish it. When jumping between issues, or when concentrating on other stuff it’s easy to forget it. I’m personally using this Time tracker, but there is also this one. It’s something that needs getting used to. Just be sure to track the time you work.
Working remotely is challenging. As we’re looking for an experienced QA, it’s likely not your first time doing it. Nowadays, after the Covid-19 outbreak there are tons of resources out there. I believe it mostly boils down to maintaining a healthy balance between work and non-work, and being able to stay focused.
Not only are we not on the same continents, but also our working days differ slightly. In Israel, the working days are Sunday to Thursday, so the ones working from Israel are usually following those days. Others work Monday to Friday.
As we are a distributed team, we do see the importance of having some overlap, so developers have a chance to video call with the PMs, and each other if there’s a need. That is, we don’t have “stand up meetings,” but that five minutes of synchronous conversation can save up many hours.
At around 12:00 UTC we have a couple of hours of overlap. This means that usually our employees are from the Middle East, Europe and the East coast of the Americas. The West coast and Asia pacific time zone difference is usually so big, it’s too much of a hurdle. I personally wouldn’t have wanted to work late at night, or to ask for someone to do it. So if you are from those “remote” areas, do reflect if that’s in line with your way of living.
We aim to be professional and nice. Professional for all the right reasons, and nice for the same ones. When I’m leaving a (virtual) room after a meeting, I’d like them to remember that Gizra has those down to earth folks that immediately understood the deal, and gave good, although somewhat radical, advice.
Being nice for us is part of being professional. I heard about managers yelling at employees. Or just some good old passive aggressive stuff. We don’t do this - or at least try very hard not to. Be nice; expect and accept mistakes; tell a person in a direct manner if they did something wrong, but also tell them if they did something right.
I think we’re a pleasant, not too stressful place to work. There are always deadlines, sure, but there’s also the time to spend with your friends and family.
I hope up until now you’ve got the sense that we’re not beating around the bush. We’re pragmatic, and quite dislike an over-engineered solution. “Let’s solve it in the simplest way”, has gotten us to work with some of the largest organizations in the world - so we must be doing something right. But we also understand that “there must be a better way” - always. Innovating ways we work, and trying to improve processes (sometimes by completely removing them), is always in the back of our heads.
Oh, and we’ll never say silly stuff like “Gizra Family”. You don’t pay salaries to family, you don’t fire them, and you don’t give them code reviews. Jeez, when did that become the norm?!
So you’ve decided it might be right for you. That’s exciting! Send us that first email with the info we’ve asked, and if it seems right for us, we’ll schedule a video call.
Usually we have two interviews, so we’d have two people on our team not only evaluate your skills, but also answer your questions.
We’re looking to hear about your mindset, your experience, or the things you are interested in.
We’d like to give you a short assignment to help us see how you QA a site and hand it over back to the PM or developers. We estimate it should take no more than an hour.
QA a Site
Here’s an example of how our QA person would report on a specific issue. It’s divided into two sections, one with the problems or questions, and the other is with the passed tests - along with screenshots confirming it.
- Your assignment is to select any site that has some user interaction, selecting one page of it, or one functionality, and providing a similar report. Ideally, the report should have some bugs as well.
- The report should be sent back to us ideally in a form of a Gist.