The Interviewer: How did you get into Testing software?
Jim: To be honest mate, it wasn’t difficult at all. I was coding away at my desk one day when the PM came into our open plan office and asked for a couple of volunteers to design and run some tests on behalf of some of our users. There were no adverts, no interviews, no searching questions about bug hunting, no mention of certification – it was just that “I need some volunteers…”.
Q: So, you just put up your hand and “hey presto” you’re a software tester? No (further) questions asked?
Jim: That’s about it, yep.
Q: So how did you know what to test and how to test it?
Jim: Well, it’s not that hard is it? You just take a bit of code and you subject it to scrutiny. Once you’re happy that the code is stable you connect it to some more code (integrate it) and do a bit more scrutiny. Easy!! Anyone can do it.
Q: What do you mean “anyone can do it”?
Jim: Well, it’s obvious isn’t it? You ask a developer to put their code into a safe place (usually a controlled environment) and you subject the code to a few questions like “what happens if you get data arriving when you don’t want it”? Or – “what happens when the data arriving can’t be read”. Simple stuff like that.
Q: That seems very easy to me. Is that really all there is to it?
Jim: Yep. You just think of a few questions to ask of the software and then get on and ask. If you get the answer(s) you were expecting you might vary the question slightly (maybe add 10 or deduct 20 from a specific input field) and repeat. I told you, anyone can do it. You don’t need to be a rocket scientist (that is, unless you’re testing rockets, of course).
Q: So, you’re telling me that you got paid for playing around with someone else’s software and asking it questions to see how it reacted?
Jim: I still get paid for doing that – piece of cake!
Q: And how long have you been earning loads of money by testing other people’s software?
Jim: Over 30 years.
Q: Over 30 years!! You must be either very old or there must be loads of crap software out there…
Jim: Bit of both really. I am quite old and there is (still) a lot of crap software out there.
Q: You know, it strikes me, Jim that the companies (you work with/for) could just hire better developers and pay them extra money to ensure that their software doesn’t fail.
Jim: Now you’re opening a can of worms. Developers are special people and telling them that their latest little software child is a dud can upset even the most seasoned of them. You know what, I just had an idea. Why don’t we just get computers to write the code and then we’d be sure that the new software wouldn’t have any bugs.
Q: I’m not so sure about that, Jim. Computers writing software? And who writes the software to enable the computer to write it’s software? Back to my questions… So, why did you leave the trenches and move up the ladder to eventually become a Program Test Manager and Test Practice Director?
Jim: I think that’s a question for next time, mate. I’ve gotta run to a Severity 1 bug briefing and I have to get there before the blood of the developer has coagulated.
Dateline: Melbourne, Wednesday August 19, 2015