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Do you count on testing experience or years++? To put it in a different way, do you evaluate yourself or others based on their real testing experience or based on their years of experience in software testing industry? That might sound something strange. We have been traditionally taught in a manner, which propagates the idea that knowledge and wisdom come with experience, where the word experience is usually related to age of the person. So, the older you grow, the more experienced you become.

The software testing industry is no different. Look around. See the advertisements. Every organization talks about hiring a professional with x years of experience for y role, z years of experience for a t role, and so on. I did not see any advertisement for a job, where it said that an individual will be evaluated in his knowledge for so and so fields and then whatever be the years of experience, the scores of the evaluation will decide whether he gets the job or not.

Here, some people might argue, that if a person does not perform well in the interview, how he can get recruited. So, organizations always recruit performers. I agree with that, assuming that a good interview process is in place. But I have a question. What about the short listing stage? When number of years is chosen as the criteria, many good candidates lose their candidature, although they could have performed very well in the interview stage.

The same organizations also promise that when the candidate joins them, his compensation benefits will be always based on his performance. That sounds great! It’s encouraging. Just one simple question. When right at the recruitment stage, an organization does not differentiate between a performer and a non-performer (by focusing on number of years rather than on the talent), what is the weight of such a promise? Definitely, when it comes to the appraisal process in such an organization, the same “number of years of experience” theory will win. Ultimately, everyone loses! Neither the organization wins, nor the individual. Organization will miss some good talent and the individual at the worst might lose his focus on performance.


Following are some points which might help in improving the situation (the approach is for hiring professionals with atleast some experience in the industry):

  • If one feels that keeping the job open for a big range of number of years of experience, will put lot of burden on the interview panel and deadlines will not be met, as a part of the interview mail/call, a set of questions should be asked. These questions should be very carefully developed and should be kept open-ended. A sub-set of these questions should be randomly selected and sent to the candidate. After evaluation of the answers, if he/she gets selected, the next interview cycle should dig further into the questions, to evaluate the authenticity of candidature.
  • Do not put a testing advertisement expecting a candidate to be experienced in a hundred testing tools! In most of the advertisements, a list of all leading functional testing, performance testing, test management tools etc. are listed. Indirectly you are inviting fake candidature. Instead analyze the job requirements, and keep the conditions very clear, with a corresponding set of questions.
  • Encourage candidates who have not worked on any famous commercial testing tool, but have worked on the development of custom-built test frameworks. As of now, I have not seen any advertisement encouraging such guys. Believe me, such candidates are rare to find and will be the best you can get in the testing market.
  • Do not put organizational requirements first. First understand the candidate’s aspirations. Maintain a job pool with specific requirements. Then consider his profile for multiple openings, if present, and communicate the same to him. Also communicate that for different requirements, he will be interviewed differently, so that he can come up with a clear choice.
  • Maintain transparency. Tell to the candidate about the exact requirement. Do not interview him in performance testing and put him in functional testing, and vice versa, against his interests.

The above points are just an indication that the interview process would be transparent and focused. It should encourage people who think out of the box. It should encourage people who have performed.

These points owe their origin to my experience so far. These owe their origin to my dreams about an ideal interview process. I am not challenging the wisdom of the old, rather I want to encourage those young guys who have performed much ahead of their “experience” (years++). There must be many practical complications, but I believe that if we all realize the importance of this concept, we can make things work! HR recruitment experts in coordination with the corresponding testing managers can come with something really wonderful. And remember, if we can achieve this, everyone wins!

Rahul Verma

 

4 Responses to “Do you count on testing experience or years++?”

  1. Bineet

    Rahul:
    I am totally agreed with you. I just want to add one more point in favour of your argument. During interview once candidature should not be judged by the college from where he/she passed out. I’ve seen lot of talented guys who are far better than the average pool. In my opinion following two points are really vital

    1. Performance Based Selection
    2. True 360 degree appraisal

  2. Rahul Verma

    Bineet,

    Thanks for sharing your valuable thoughts.

    I fully agree to the thought about the candidate’s education. Infact, this is one of the most important reasons why some candidates from not-so-famous colleges ultimately decide to put some fake experience, in the absence of a job. So, not considering them eligible at the fresher stage, hits badly while hiring laterals. Equal opportunities should be provided to all and then based on their performance,irrespective of their college, the decision should be taken.

  3. Debasis - The Bug Hunter!

    Hi Rahul,

    Excellent post. I think you have tried to touch a very sensitive issue here. As far as Experience in Testing is concerned, I classify them into 2 major sections: Years of Experience and Hours of Experience. I had posted a blog entry about it some time back. You might want to take a look at it: Years of Testing Exp. Vs. Hours of Testing Exp..

    Regards,
    Debasis.
    Software Testing Zone

  4. Rahul Verma

    Hi Debasis,

    Good to see that you found this post worthwhile. This owes it’s origin to my personal experience. I have been badly hurt by this attitude of the industry. I hope that slowly the things change.

    I’ll have a look at your post and ‘ll share my views there.

    Regards,
    Rahul Verma.

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