And you claim to be passionate about your job?

I've conducted more interviews over the years than I care to remember. It's one of the things I do for my clients - help them interview people so they can make sure the candidates are thoroughly queried on their testing and agile knowledge.

I'm tired of...

...Interviewing people that haven't read a single book about testing...

...Interviewing people that don't have regular websites that they read to keep up to date on what's happening around matters relating to testing...

...Interviewing people that boast of their ISTQB qualification but can't even tell me how to apply boundary value analysis or basic combinatorial techniques properly...

How can you have 3-6 years experience in testing and never have read a book or even have regular websites or blogs that you visit... and then claim that you are passionate about it!!!

I have to admit that I prefer to read articles and blogs - mainly because they represent current thinking of several people (rather than a book that represents the thinking of one or two people at the time the book was written - often half a year to a year before the book even gets published)... But that doesn't mean I don't read books - just that more of my reading time is spent reading articles and blogs...

At least I have reading time on the subject I claim to be passionate about (that's what motivated the creation of this site in the first place)!

If you are reading this... the chances are that none of this applies to you... but thanks for listening... I needed to get that off my chest.

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Comments

...Interviewing people who hold up their physical certificate (insert one here) as though this answers everything ...

Yeah this happened to me. A person arrived with their certification and held it up for me. A shame the situation wasn't filmed would have been a good video clip.

I feel your pain.

...interviewing people who can't tell you about a defect they were particularly proud of finding...

...interviewing people who can't tell you what would make a good defect report...

...intervieiwng people who have listed different tools and techniques only to sutter their way through any questions you ask them about them...

I agree. Having just started recruiting again, there seems to be a trend that once you have your ISEB/ISTQB found. cert box ticked, you can forget what you learned. Especially if it was a few years back. I've had one or two interesting descriptions of some methodologies lately. Must have done a different course to me!
So much for being prepared and ready for an interview.

Susan

Hi Antony,

I definitely see the same thing. I've seen this across all experience levels - even people that have 15 years of experience.

I struggle with this becuase I want passionate people. If they have done well in the interview and I get to this question (usually one of the last ones) and they say "I've never read a book on testing" my expectations, opinion and desire to bring them on is highly damaged.

One candidate claimed to be passioniate. This person had 8 years of experience told me he had read a book on testing! I was so excited because people often answer that they haven't. When I probed a little bit I found that the he did indeed read a book on testing....once - during his undergrad which was about 10 years before. Sad - but true.

www.adamkwhite.com

I am sure the fact that I name dropped TestingReflections at my interview was a factor in me getting an offer
That and mentioning all the books I'd read to educate myself

Sadly though I do have to agree with your experiences - none of the testers I interviewed had read a book or read blogs or could name a website.

Why is this - is it because 'anyone can do testing' and can claim to be a passionate tester as it is possible to sit in front of an app and bash away and find bugs ?

I feel your pain.

...Interviewing people that haven't read a single book about testing...

Hard to fathom, except that many testing books are complete crap. Some people only need a few of bad experiences to sour them on the idea of wasting $40 on a book. In addition, some people don't read anything. One tester of my acquaintance only reads (fiction/fantasy) books by one author. That's hard for me to figure too, except he plays games that I don't play, and watches movies that I don't watch, and he's a great tester. Some people are more visual and less linear than I am. Lots of great musicians that I know don't read sheet music very well, or at all. They just do music.

Again, I don't get it either, but over many years of teaching testing, it seems a common pattern to ask "how many people have read a book on testing" and watch 10% of the hands go up. It might be useful to ask why.

...Interviewing people that don't have regular websites that they
read to keep up to date on what's happening around matters relating to
testing...

Same deal. They don't know about the good websites, or they try a few and they're crappy, or they feel that their situation is unique; or they don't have a community that can point them to the good stuff. Once they're in, they're in. Maybe they're just getting started. Or maybe their managers and mentors have told them the equivalent of "move along, nothing to see here" with respect to the whole field of testing.

...Interviewing people that boast of their ISTQB qualification but
can't even tell me how to apply boundary value analysis or basic
combinatorial techniques properly...

Ah, but that's explicable. The ISTQB doesn't cite boundary value analysis and basic combinatorial techniques as things that qualified testers should know. No, wait a minute: the ISTQB does cite boundary value analysis and basic combinatorial techniques as things that qualified testers should know! And yet these people have this certification, suggesting that the ISTQB certifies that they're qualified. Hmmm.

Or maybe there's more to this whole equivalence class/boundary value stuff than meets the eye, and it turns out that there's a lot of subtlety and richness to it that the standard literature doesn't cover, but that people understand in some sense.

How can you have 3-6 years experience in testing and never have
read a book or even have regular websites or blogs that you visit...
and then claim that you are passionate about it!!!

That's hard to fathom as above. But maybe they know something that I don't. You can learn a ton about testing by reading The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, which gives lots of example of paradox, system effects, and alternative ways of seeing the world; or by watching Yes, (Prime) Minister (more examples of same), or by tinkering with electronics (which teaches things about problem-solving and troubleshooting). You can learn a lot from motivated peers, and be passionate about those things. So I ask a modified version of the data question. "What can you show me or tell me to demonstrate your passion for testing?" The answer might be interesting, and if not, it might at least be entertaining.

---Michael B.

The way I ask the question is usually "how do you develop your knowledge and skills in testing?" I drill down into their answer depending on what it is...

I can totally relate to the issue of many testing books being a bit crap... I would respect the interviewee for saying this... if they then said what they do instead. If they told me that reading books on modelling or critical thinking instead - or they say they work in practical workshops to develop their skill... or they said they watch video-lectures on something... I'd still take that as being passionate about what they do.

You mention a case of a person who is 'a great tester'... if you mean they are great at finding bugs then that's something that might become apparent in a practical... but if that person claimed to be passionate about what they do and did absolutely nothing - other than just test instinctively during working hours - I'd find it hard to believe them.

I tend not to ask if they are passionate about what they do as I find it's a loaded question. I'm looking for that evidence in other ways...

I take on board your point that not all people learn well by reading. And - if that becomes apparent I don't have a problem with that... It would become apparent if they told me that they do beta-testing in their spare time or watched video-lectures or attended workshops and conferences or all of the above... or demonstrated the application of a technique (not necessarily knowing the name).

But with absolutely no evidence that they do anything other than test instinctively during working hours and in 6 years in testing (as was the case in one interview recently) had only the ISTQB foundation certificate and course notes that they ever referred to and Google when they encountered a technical problem and never bothered to do anything else? Well - that just isn't good enough.

Antony Marcano