16 June, 2010

Auditioning for a Tester’s Role – Part I

Suppose that you have a friend who asks you to interview a tester for your team, How would you do it?

Here are a few sample questions:

What is the difference between smoke and sanity testing?

What is the difference between verification and validation?

What is the difference between regression and re-testing?

What is the different between a product and an application?

I can’t stop rolling my eyes for the last one though. I have worked on products all my life. Now, what the heck does an application mean for heaven’s sake. OK, I am a nerd.

Did you know that within Regression testing, there are 3 types of regressions. Ah! We don’t read testing books. Do we? “Testing for 9-10 hrs a day itself is deadly boring. And I tell you to read testing books again? After all, Testing is not a sexy sport” At least, I thank you for reading my blog. You are better than many of those ignorant testing souls who don’t read anything about testing at all. Or maybe, you are here to judge my work (a shameless grin!).

Objective and Subjective Tests
Give a written test to testers where all they have to do is select/guess the correct answer to get through the test. Some questions might ask you to list the scenarios to test or even find a few bugs in the login screen that is included in the test paper. Login Screen seems evergreen! It is as good as writing multiple choice answer exams by mugging up model question papers. Meet any tester today and ask him some definitions. There is a high probability he/she will mouth all the important definitions a.k.a. ISTQB style!

Losing good candidates
Go to any ****interviews.com sites. The testing questions are so common that anyone can learn them and clear the tests for a testing job. You may argue “We do have 2-3 face to face technical rounds to evaluate testers where they will be judged on their knowledge”. What about testers who failed the tests simply because they didn’t know the definitions you were looking for. What if they were extremely talented, inspite of not knowing some crude definitions? We don’t care. Good candidates will find a good job anyway, not our headache. Isn't it?

Selection Criteria
There is no doubt that we need outstanding candidates to work with. There has to be some criteria to filter such candidates: number of years of experience, list of reputed colleges, list of relevant degrees, marks they scored in 10th, 12th and graduation, the company they are currently working for, the maximum number of buzzwords in the resume (Automation, QTP, Windows, Unix, Mac, Java, .NET, Perl, Shell Scripting, blah blah blah), how much salary they are drawing currently, How far do they stay from the office (by the way, we expect people to work long hours!), Is the candidate married (if yes, they may leave office after working for 8 hrs. Worst case, they may even plan for a baby next year), Do they have kids? (they may decline to work on weekends) and many more. If the candidate clears this list and is still alive and patient to join the organization, he would be offered. Let me warn you, if you are a woman interviewed in India, few interviewers look for Mangalsutra and Toe rings to confirm if you are married or not. Amazing professionalism!

Round 1
If some candidate comes till here, he/she is extremely lucky. There will be another round of definition/terminology checking session. The first round is cleared as the interviewee knows the definitions including full stops, commas and punctuation marks. After all, he has attended about 35 interviews so far in 35 different companies. And to top it all, he has model interview papers of this organization as well. Obviously, he memorized a lot of stuff last night.

Round 2
Another interviewer comes along. He has an important release that night. In spite of that, his manager forced him to take the interview as he had to leave early to his home town (Smart Manager?). This interviewer is frustrated with his work, with his manager and now this candidate who came out of nowhere to make his life more miserable. Ask same old meaningless questions. Give him a tough puzzle which takes a long time to crack. While the interviewee starts working on the puzzle, this guy makes a phone call to his childhood buddy. Sooner the puzzle gets cracked, angrier the interviewer will be. However, the candidate is shortlisted for the next round.

Round 3
A typical managerial round follows. He would be asked similar questions as in Round 1 and Round 2. The interviewee is asked to solve the same puzzle that was given in Round 2. He is lot more confident this time as he knows the answer already. After all, this was the same puzzle discussed in the Hiring meeting recently (and the sheep present at the meeting followed it blindly without looking for new puzzles). Once this is cleared, its over to HR round and offer letter is issed. It’s all over.

The team believes that the candidate is outstanding, else they wouldn't offer to him/her. What if he isn't? What if he prefers monotonous work to challenging work? What if he is not interested to learn anything? Was he ever tested for some of these attributes during the interviews? Was there feedback of any kind flowing in from the first round to the last one?

As people who want to hire good people for teams, we end up finding people who are very similar to us. We fear to find the ones who can challenge our work and add value to what already exists as well as to what we do. Eventually, the team becomes a group of 'Yes Men' who hardly question anything.

What kind of people are you looking to hire?

Parimala Shankaraiah

04 June, 2010

The New Famous Millionaire Rock Star Tester Dudette

Roughly a year ago, James Bach talked about my work on his blog. I rock on his blogroll too. Michael Bolton recently mentioned my name in his Follow Friday list of tweeples to follow in twitterverse. My blog got listed as 30th top software testing blog. uTest thought I am one of the top 20 tester tweeples’ in twitterverse. I got 2 articles published (as author/co-author) in last one year. What more? I am The New Famous Millionaire Rock Star Tester Dudette on the block!

I love to test. I like to mentor people. I motivate fellow testers to explore. I encourage many to experiment new things. I support people who fail faster and guide them to do so in a safe environment. I empathize with people. I answer questions. I clarify doubts. In return, I learn more from them than they do from me.

With lots of regards to my blog, I have done crazy stuff. I have written good posts, some bad, some worse. Some that people would remember for next few years etc. Should I write blog posts that increase my traffic or that help change the way a few people think? Not just think about how I write, but about what I write and how it can bring a good change in the way they work.

Interestingly, even if I haven’t posted anything in a while, hits to my blog remain pretty constant. Some colleagues discover my blog accidentally and speak highly about it (blush). And I know you as my blog reader too. Do I really deserve this adulation? Honestly, I don’t know. At least, I didn’t ask for it consciously. When the adulation did arrive, it gave me goose bumps. It got me excited and happy. When you do little things without any expectations of end results which somehow turns out to be a great deal for others, your joy will have no bounds. Adding to this, you’ll think of achieving lot more and travel to areas untraveled so far.

I haven't done many things. To list a few:
I have not attended many conferences forget about speaking at some of those prestigious ones.
I have not written profusely in public. Don’t even ask about writing a book.
I have not networked enough on online testing communities to suggest ideas and solve people's problems.
I fail to work closely with my colleagues to suggest good things at work due to lack of good negotiation skills, perseverance and patience.
At times, my ego costs me a ton!

Recently, one person commented on why an upcoming tester like me gets included in an elite list of testers on a reputed public forum. Some people question my existence on the Influential Women tester’s list on STP magazine January issue. Tomorrow, many may question my credibility. Did I ask for this? I didn’t. I am fine with criticism/ridicule/banter or whatsoever you want to call it. It's fine because people who comment are the ones who have not seen me test or work in general. If colleagues who work with you everyday can mistake your intentions and take you for a ride, think about people sitting millions of miles away witnessing flattery about you. And I am fine to say I don't rock at testing yet! At least, I have the courage buddy.

I am yet to travel a lot in my Testing Journey. I have a long way to go. I am not breaking my head thinking about the destination or how I would be when I reach the destination. All I am doing right now is enjoying my journey. If something good comes my way and this helps me do better things by reaching out to more people, I would grab it anyway. But I would not ask for it explicitly (And yes, I have had my lean days too). The whole ‘getting famous’ thing gets as controversial as match fixing in cricket matches because people seem to have problems with upcoming testers since these testers have neither spoken at a conference nor written a book. Simply because they are not famous enough yet! Is that it?

I am glad it’s a small world and I am facing these things so early in my career. It keeps me grounded (I won’t use the word humble). There’s a lot to learn, there’s a lot more to achieve, there is so much I need to do if I want to be that something that I want to be. As a newcomer, I have my fair share of struggles to fight against. Challenge me, but don’t make fun of me. Even if someone did, I’ll take that person as a godsend not because I am philosophical, but because that person is helping me grow. In some way for sure. Thanks to that person, I would be facing rough waters very early.

I want to be a Change Agent in testing. I don’t care if I am famous or not. I don’t care if I’ll be rich or not. All I want is to be a small seed that can grow into a tree and spread its wings so that many testers like me come out in the open as people with tons of pride and self-esteem about the Testing Craft.

And yes, for the change agent that I want to be, I am definitely The New Famous Millionaire Rock Star Tester Dudette “Already”.

Parimala Shankaraiah