Ajoy Kumar Singha
This is my last blog post for this year. In this post I would like to make a point about hiring practice in IT industry specially in testing.

I have been a part of hiring process for my current and previous organizations. I have taken interviews for my project, my client, walk-in interviews and also for fresher hiring at college campus. What did I learn from these interviews? 

Most of the resumes are shortlisted by HR persons and then are sent to us for technical evaluation. Then we talk to the candidate to evaluate him. The evaluation process is generally a set of questions starting from “Tell us something about yourself” to some technical questions about testing/non-testing area. If the candidate is able to answer most of the questions fairly well, we select him or pass on to the next level of interview. If he cannot answer the questions – we simply convey – “You can leave for the day.”

This is a traditional way of evaluating a candidate for a job. Is there a problem in it? I seriously feel yes. Right from the short listing of resumes to offering a job – the system goes through some pre-conceived procedures/filters. I have seen many bad testers passing through these filters easily and many good testers, just because the filter itself is bad-shaped, get rejected.

Bad Shape of filters –
1. Resume Short listing – Resumes are short listed by non-technical people. I don’t know how most of the HR people collect the resumes and hence short list them. My friends’ resumes forwarded by me never got short listed though L. (It is important to have a good repo with HR guys if you want your friends to get a call.)

2. Just in time Hiring – Just in time hiring may sound good to reduce bench strength of the organization. But think of a situation where the person leaving your organization has a particular skill and you do not have a similarly skilled person in bench, you will need to hire from outside. I am not against just in time hiring. I am against initiating the hiring process late. When you know someone has resigned, why don’t you arrange to hire and replace the resigned candidate in the beginning of the notice period? Believe me, 95% of resigned candidates will not take back their resignation. Why try till last date to take him back? If you offer to give him carrots when he resigns, why did not you give that before he had actually resigned? Most of the organization will not allow its employee to leave before they serve their full notice period. But still these companies will want the employees from other companies to join them in short notice. 
Warning – The candidates who can join in short notice are actually fake employees or they are not working anywhere or they are too bad resources. Except, the only situation where he had resigned before your interview process started.
I have even received emails from hiring firms mentioning – “relieving letter not required.” What kind of ethics these firms are practicing? 
If you are forced to hire in short time span – you are bound to recruit bad/fake candidates. So start early.

3. Knowledge of the Interviewer – It is important to judge the knowledge of the candidate. But it is more important to know how much fit the interviewer is to judge a candidate. Bad interviewers just screw up a hiring process and the filters get more bad-shaped. 

4. Questions asked at Interview – If I list down 100 questions for software testing and commonly asked behavioural questions from internet and if I can remember them all, then I think I can clear most the software testing interviews that happens now a days. All I have to do is get someone who can give me answers for those questions and I will have learn like a parrot. I can just repeat the sentences in front of the interviewer and get the job. 

5. Candidates with Certification – Passing an IT certification exam is easy. Please read my post “Investigation on Certification”.  I am not saying certification is bad. I am saying certification has just become very easy and I know few guys who have never tested any software and still they cleared certification exams. It is high time we thought of other methods of certifying people. So don’t just believe that having an IT certification makes someone a good candidate for the job.

Need for a better hiring practice-
What are things that we can do as industry thought leaders in testing? (Sorry, I am not a thought leader yet in testing or any other industry. I am just a follower of good practice.) This is what I suggest – if you care to agree.

1. Follow a hiring practice that companies like Moolya follows. Ask candidates to test an open source product and send the test report. Brilliant process. What you will get is real tester with real result. Bad apples automatically get filtered out. However, this method will need discipline and ethics from the hiring organization. Also you will face challenges as a large service based organization to reach out to more number of candidates. Walk-in type of interview will need more planning and resources. 

2. Do not care about what is written in resume. Do not care about what certificate they have. Do not care about what educational background they have. Just care about if they can really test. Clue – Good testers are thinking heads. Challenge them with problems. See how they have solved problems in real life. 

3. See how passionate the candidate is about testing. Is it just another job (money earning machine) or he really thinks about testing? Ask him what he wants to do in testing or what he has done in testing. 

4. Do not discriminate people from another industry. Do not just throw him out just because he is from BPO, Medical sales or HR background. I am a Mechanical Engineer and had worked for a year in chemical industry before moving to full time testing. If you think I have done something in testing, then every other guy from other industry has a potential to do magic in testing. 

5. Do not discriminate people with gaps. We tend to filter out people who have gap period between two jobs. Investigate why there is a gap. I have seen many female testers who left their jobs because they got married and they had a kid to care about. Now that the kid is grown up, they can join back testing job. They face lots of challenges in even getting an interview call. I understand that those who have not worked for last few months/years may not be as smooth in working as compared to those who have been working continuously. But a passionate tester can ignite the passion anytime. You just need to give them a chance.

6. Do not ask lots of definitions during the interview. Do not care about skills which can be trained. Only care about skills/traits that cannot be trained. Attitude, interest, motivation, commitment, vision – these can be changed but it takes time. Think what you want – a person with full of definitions or someone who wants to learn and can be moulded to do good testing. However, do check if the candidate knows about coding if you are hiring a white box tester for example. Special skills are important too.

Testing is not everybody’s cup of tea. It requires thinking. Passionless testers will get bored in few years of testing. Choose good people for testing, not just another job seeker. Today, testing is not regarded as a class one job in IT industry. ‘They’ think testing is a low skilled job. You know what I meant by ‘they’. 

It will take time to convince everyone to change their hiring practices. Thanks to Pradeep and Santhosh. Moolya has started the trend. Others will follow. Let us make a New Year resolution – to uplift the image of software testing professionals by adopting a good hiring practice and not to be the same as what other bad recruiters are doing. Do you support me?

I promise to offer my free professional help to organizations who want to change their current hiring practice and adopt new better practice. Write to me.

I have used ‘he’ in this post to mean the “3rd person singular” gender. ‘He’ here is just a pronoun meaning both he and she. And I do not intend to discriminate male and female. 
Ajoy Kumar Singha
What is manual software testing? Boardly, Manual testing is activities which are executed by human such as gathering requirement, writing test cases based on the requirement and executing those test cases on the build (compiled code).
Whereas, automation software testing involves using a tool for writing and executing test cases/scripts. Computers (tools) are fast, reliable, capable of multi tasking, they do not require coffee breaks. But the point of concern is "tools cannot think." Your automation test cases/scripts are as best as your manual testing test cases. Tools convert manual test cases into executable scripts, nothing else.
On the other hand, a human can think. They have the ability to think on their own and make decisions. They can decide and write test cases on the areas scripts cannot reach. Also all test cases cannot be automated. Tools cannot decide the usability factor of an application.
The best way a tool (Selenium, QTP, Rational Functional Tester, Silk etc) can be used is where there are large number of regression test cases which are required to be executed over and over again, build after build. Also tools (LoadRunner, WebLoad, JMeter) are best used when it comes to performance testing. It can replicate large number of virtual users and generate loads of desired quantity which will be very difficult for human testers to do.
Using automation software testing is very helpful but the simple answer to the question - "Can automation replace manual software testing?" is "No".
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Ajoy Kumar Singha
Let me be very clear. I am not against any Certification program. I just wanted to share few incidents that I came across recently.

I saw an advertisement few days back in some orkut community. Somebody called ‘super boy’ claimed that he can clear any certification exam and he has a good ‘link’ with testing centers. He had given his email with the advertisement. I shared the advertisement link with few of my seniors and mentors in testing community. They too expressed their disappointments about this.

I wanted to know what he is actually doing it. So I sent him a mail asking what all exams he can clear for me and what are the charges involved. Next day he replied with a link to blog. I do not want to give link of his blog here because that way I will popularize his blog and more people will fall for fake certification exam. Anyway I visited his blog and found what process he is adopting to clear the exams.

This is what I got from the FAQ section of his blog –

1. How can you clear a certification exam in 1000 rupees?
A. I have very good relation with the testing centers. I pay a lot of money to them and purchase the exam question papers from them in black and sell the same paper to many people and gain profit. So for 1000 rupees I will give the exam question paper in pdf format.

2. Certification is an online exam, and exam questions are not same for all then how can you sell a single question paper (same paper) to many people?
A. Your exam questions will be selected randomly from the exam server. The question paper includes all the questions that are there on the exam server. So all your exam questions will be selected from my question paper only.

3. Will you also provide the answers for the questions?
A. Yes.

4. What is the guarantee that I will pass the exam? What if I fail the exam?
A. Till now I certified many number of people not even one person failed the exam. 100% exam pass is assured. Since I am giving you the exact question paper with answers the probability to fail the exam is negligible. If you fail the exam send the hard copy of your score card to my address, your money will be refunded. No questions will be asked. I guarantee you pass the exam.
For double security I will give you 2 sets of question papers. You will find 90% of the questions similar in both the sets which give you confidence and double security.

5. You said you already certified many people, what is the proof?
A. I can show the screen a shot of my email conversation, people saying thanks to me.

6. Where do you stay? Can I meet you directly, what is your contact number?
A. I am staying in Bangalore. You can meet me. My mobile number +91-XX601226XX.

7. After the payment, how do I get the question paper and how long it will take?
A. Question paper will be sent in email with in 24 hours, after receiving the payment.

8. For how long the question paper will be valid?
A. I suggest you to write the exam within 2 weeks. Please send me an email 3 days before writing the exam asking for the updates. If there are any new questions added, I will give you the new set of questions. You need not pay anything for this.

9. I am busy with my schedule and I cannot write the exam with in 2 weeks, I want to write the exam after a month or later will you provide the latest one at that time?
A. Yes. You can write the exam at any time. Just contact me 2 weeks before writing the exam I will give the latest ones.

10. Can you write my exam?
A. No.

11. I'm in Canada/US/UK so will I still get the same questions writing it here. Do you have any international people passing the exam?
A. Certification is an online exam and exam questions are same all over the world so you can choose any testing center of your choice (world wide).

12. How can I pay the money? What are the payment modes?
A. You can pay the money in any of the 3 ways.
1. You can transfer the money online or deposit by cash by visiting the bank.
Andhra bank Account number: XX0810XXXX53XXX. Account is in the name of Xxxxxx Xxxxxxx. Bangalore - J P Nagar branch. MICR code: XXXX011XXx, IFSC code: XXXXB0001X0X. Account type: savings. 
Or 2. You can transfer the money to my PayPal account. Please transfer the money to this PayPal account: xxxxxxxxsales@xmail.com. If you are transferring through PayPal please transfer 25 US $ because to receive and with draw the money using PayPal charges applicable.
Or 3. You can transfer the money through western union money transfer. If you wish to transfer through western union please ask me for the details.

Wao! Lots of information and a well planned method of exploiting present certification exam method. He claimed he can clear almost all certification exams that includes Adobe, Apple, Avaya, BEA, Black berry, Cisco (CCNA, CCNP etc...), Citrix, Dell, EMC, HP, IBM, Intel, Lotus, Microsoft (MCDBA, .NET, MCPD etc..), MySQL, Network Appliance, Oracle (OCA, OCP), Redhat RHCE, SAP, SUN (SCJP, SCWCD, Solaris), Sybase, SAS etc.

I contacted him further asking whether he can clear my ISTQB exam. He took two days to reply to my query. He confirmed that he cannot clear the exam as this exam. It is because the ISTQB exam in India was still pen and paper based, not online. ISTQB India has recently started allowing online exams. So I contracted him again. This time I also mention ISEB ISTQB exam (Exam code ISEB BH0-004) which is also online based and the exam commonly taken at Prometric centers. He confirmed again his inability to provide the questions and answers of ISTQB India exam and ISEB ISTQB exam as according to him “these exams are not conducted from dumps (exam server)”. However, he said he can clear other popular Software Testing certification exams such as QTP, LoadRunner exams.

I said I am not against any certification exam. But after the above incident (kind of investigation on certification) I might want to change my opinion about exams which are based on dumps or question banks. ISTQB still passes my investigation. But then ISTQB should also come up with more stringent measure to stop any misuse of its exam facility. Should not the certification exams include some kind of practical examinations too as we did in 10+2 Science Chemistry Salt analysis practical session?

A good cook will know all recipes and he even can recite them at times. But just memorizing recipes does not make anyone a good cook. Certification doesn't convert a bad tester to a good tester. A good tester with certification doesn't automatically become a bad tester either. But it is high time we should improve the examination method that we follow today.

Your thoughts?
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Ajoy Kumar Singha
There are hosts of journals available on software testing on internet. Another one is being planned for launch on 1st September 2010. This is a mission by a group of software testing professionals from NCR/Delhi area. I happen to associate with this mission.

The e-magazine named Testing Circus is supposed to be free to the subscribers and they claim it would be a magazine with a difference. Testing Circus will attempt to capture the readers who are novice in this field. Most of magazines that are already available in web world are targeted at expert testing professionals. Over the years I have felt that there are very less reading materials available for students who want to learn software testing from the beginning. Books available in the market are kind of advanced level structure. There is no book like what we have for dot net, java, sql - teach yourself software testing in 24 hours. Testing Circus e-magazine attempts to capture that market section. 

The idea is noble. The name Testing Circus is little tricky. Circus word is usually synonym with undisciplined works. But I feel circus here means 'tricks'. So we meant to convey 'testing is no magic, it is a pure trick, it is a circus.' Testing Circus - magazine on software testing should therefore help new learners of software testing the platform they were missing for years.

Subscribe the magazine at www.testingcircus.com Or you can follow them on twitter at http://twitter.com/TestingCircus

I wish all the best to Testing Circus e-magazine on Software Testing.
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