No liars please, we’re testers.

I’ve been prompted to write this after sifting through another load of dross CVs. I say another because I was recruiting heavily last year. A recruitment drive that took me twelve months to find just two test analysts.. hold that thought.

Its not that I didn’t get many applicants the first time round I did, hundreds in fact (quite literally) and I duly read and scored every CV personally and feedback too. Not only that, I also had two of my peers review the CVs too. You cant ask for more than that. If two out of three agreed, the decision was final.

The reason it took a year was down to the quality of the CVs. At least half of the CVs we read didn’t state the daily tasks that you would expect a career tester to be doing. Only if you were playing at being a tester would you make that mistake. Unfortunately sometimes the CV would tick all the boxes and we would invite the applicant in for interview. Imagine their horror when they were faced with a simple exercise to test their SQL skills even though on their CV they had waxed lyrical about how they practically spoke to their friends in SQL because they had used it so much they were fluent.

“so I have a table called customer, with the fields ID, Name, Address. How would I get all of the records form the table?” you should see some of the answers. Its often hard for me not to shout “just give up, I know you haven’t got a bloody clue despite what it says on your CV” they muddle on “GET ALL RECORDS FROM TABLE WHERE NAME == CUSTOMERS AND ID….”

Imagine also them recoiling in their seats when I ask them to draw out the V-model and label it.
“What’s that you say, you don’t know how? But here on your CV you state you are a senior test analyst and have and ISEB foundation certificate, how do you not know the V model?” they shuffle their feet and mumble how they studied at home, well not actually studied so much as bought a guide on how to pass that’s full of example questions.

I watch in wonder as their faces contort when I ask them “so what is the difference between white box testing and black box” I let them fumble through telling me how they have used both of those “methodologies” and I follow up with “can you give me some examples where you white box tested?”

Then come the questions on web testing (its what we do after all) “so whats a cookie I ask”, the smile, easy they think “it’s a virus you get from visiting sex sites” oh my! What should I do as a tester? “never ever accept cookies, they track all your movements, like little spys in your computer”.
I follow with a simple exercise about shopping carts and sessions to see if the candidate understands why a cookie maybe important here. “the system gets all that info from the cookie” but how did it get in the cookie? “from the internet” can I see it, I want to see my cookie “oh no you cant see them, they are secret”.

I have even had to terminate several interviews because it became apparent very quickly that the applicant in the chair didn’t actually know what was on their CV because they had just copied it off a (delete as appropriate) friend / colleague / LinkedIn profile.

It was so bad in the past that we setup an online quiz. It was very simple, multiple choice, some questions around testing, some around our domain. Some very easy questions “Which of the following is a search engine” with an obvious answer “google”. We discovered a side effect of an easy question like that is that we could see how fast the candidate answered the question when they knew it straight off the cuff (about 9 seconds for that question) and compare it to a testing related question that took 3 them minutes to answer (did they have to search for the answer?). The test was very easy for a career web tester, but not so easy for an IT support person or BA or even a developer who fancied a move into testing. Its only real purpose was to filter out the complete time wasters.

So here I am again, I’m hiring and I’m inundated with CVs and again 50% are pure wasted bandwidth (I don’t give them the luxury of printing them out). But this time I don’t have the online test, and I’m gnashing my teeth at some of the incredulous stuff in these CVS. Some of them read like horrible blog postings “on this job we had this challenge and so we had to X because of Y but then Z happened and so we used plan A…” blah blah blah “then the business wanted B but I wrote the very detailed spec of C” bletch grrr spit pfftt, its all I can do to stop myself posting these fetid monologues online for no other reason than ridicule and I hate myself for it.

So faced with the prospect of interviewing a load of (lets be blunt here) bullshit artists only to show them the door at the end of it isn’t a prospect I’m overjoyed with. I don’t want to spend two hours of my life demonstrating why the candidate is a liar. I don’t want to be associated with these bottom feeders in a professional sense either. I loathe them, and I loathe the arseholes that gave them a “consultant” badge at Logica (or any other faceless body shop), because now they think they are gods gift and we should roll out the red carpet for them.

I will continue to sift through the dross, the cream always floats and that’s what I’m after, the cream, the crème de la crème.

So if you are interviewing a tester that tells you that you gave them a much easier ride than in a previous interview they attended, you know I rejected them, and that you may want to make use of that probationary period.

But if you’re a testers who’s CV isn’t straight up and down, you may want to rethink applying for a job with me.

Oh and by the way, don’t put “I have a keen eye for attention to detail” then litter your CV with spelling mistakes poor grammar and mixed styling!

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