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Mar 28, 2008 - 3 minute read - Evil Tester Rants

We don't need no stinkin' passion!

“Me too. Me too. Me too.” That sums up my reaction to Antony Marcano’s TestingReflections post on interviewing testers that just don’t ‘come up to scratch’. Those testers we interview who claim to have a passion for testing but don’t exhibit said passion.

I’ve gone through the same as Antony and have no words of advice to offer him, because he probably does the stuff I mention in this post already.

  • I still ask interview questions like “what testing book would you recommend to me?", “how do you keep up to date with software testing?". I try not to get disappointed with the answers any more.
  • I try to filter out the testers that will not answer those questions effectively by screening the CVs thoroughly - but CVs have not proven the best basis for checking this stuff out.
  • I try to do web searches for the people before an interview but so few people have a testing web presence.

From now on I will try phone screening, so that at least I get the disappointing answers over the phone and we don’t waste any face to face interview time.

I’d like to find a single thing to blame it on… like Y2K…like certification, but I don’t think that helps me.

I think Y2K resulted in a flood of testers on to the market. Y2K resulted in a demand for testers that the existing mass of testers wasn’t able to satisfy so a lot of people became ‘testers’ and have remained ‘testers’ ever since - and manage to make quite a tidy living out of ‘being’ ‘testers’ thank you very much.

Y2K doesn’t explain why so many of these ‘testers’ still manage to get work though.

The sad fact remains that the computing industry seems to accept mediocrity or ‘poor’ as the ‘standard’ for testers.

At the time of writing this post, I have Ayn Rand's novel Atlas Shrugged (warning the wikipedia article has many ‘spoilers’ in it) sitting next to me, I don’t know if it offers any solutions to the dilemma that we face, since I still have 200 pages to go till the end. But it does deal with the situation under discussion, where the dispassionate, uninformed and untalented make up the majority and set the norm. Anyone with passion will feel it all too easy to identify with the novel’s ‘right thinking’ heroic protagonists - so perhaps reading it will fuel their antagonism rather than quell it.

I have never enjoyed the general process of recruiting testers, nor have I found that and easy process. Although I have enjoyed the process of interviewing certain specific testers.

So everyone with passion:

  • Stand Firm
  • Don’t recruit anyone you don’t believe in
  • Build up systems and examples, to have candidates actually ‘test’ during interviews so that you can ‘see’ them in action
  • Don’t compromise
  • Know what you need the candidate to do ‘in’ the job
  • Mentor people with potential and grow your own ‘good’ testers

We know that skilled testers exist out there.

We know that the process of recruiting them takes time and feels painful.

And at least we know that everyone else has it hard too…

…Bwa Ha Ha Ha!

“Sometimes these little moments of schadenfreude make everything bearable”


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