How I interview Testers… – Dan Ashby

This blog post is related to an excellent webinar by Dan Ashby for the Ministry of Testing. Want to hire great testers? Have a read of this.

I’ve been conducting a lot of interviews recently and I thought I’d share my format for asking questions and stemming conversations that works well for me to be able to determine if the candidate is the right person for the job when it comes to skills, experience, mindset and remaining relevant in the industry.

Source: How I interview Testers… – Dan Ashby


Mapping biases

One of my favourite aspects of systems thinking was the consideration of thinking traps. It brings into play all kinds of problems with the way that humans consider information, and why we often grab the wrong end of a stick (the shitty end, usually).

Maaike Brinkhof has written a very nice blog post about mapping biases to testing, the first part of a longer series of posts. She writes about how a book by Daniel Kahneman – thinking fast and slow has encouraged her to consider how our preconceptions can affect our decision making. There’s a few bits about ‘system 1 and system 2’ thinking (which I’ve read about before somewhere) and there’s loads of good information for the considered tester.

By a total coincidence one of the other blogs I follow has also posted something about biases: Duck or Rabbit by What’s The PONT. I’m sure you’ve seen the duck/rabbit picture before, but there’s some discussion about how our biases/perspective might inform our views and decisions. This is also worth a read.

This is all important stuff. As noted in the second blog, knowing and doing are different things. We might think we know what we are doing in our work/life, but looking at the evidence for our activity in a different way might reveal more detail that we have missed. Maaike talks about heuristics in the first post, and these can be very helpful in guiding us to better decisions, by making us consider the less obvious (or knowledge blocked by our biases and perspectives).

For instance, I am more than aware that my negative feelings for Test Management application HP ALM mean that I cannot ever think it is the best tool for the job. I may be mistaken (but I don’t think so). Lots of people seem to use it, even giving it positive reviews. My biases inform me that they are all wrong, but maybe it’s me that cannot see the benefits?

I’ll be looking forward to the rest of the series by Maaike for sure. My testing friends should also read it (and What’s The Pont too – some excellent systems thinking posts there).

Using Selenium

There’s an increasing need to use automation to assist with our testing. We are about to launch into developing a huge, new system that interacts with all sorts of existing systems. This is an off-the-shelf application (which will require limited testing itself) which is to replace some existing systems, expand the capability of current users and hopefully make everything easier for everyone.

We will need to create a whole pile of integration tests and along with some business process tests. Automating some of the checking of the business processes early on will ensure that we will have more time to spend on the tricky bits (like testing the interfaces).

The prime candidate for automation tool is Selenium Webdriver. I’ve only used it briefly, though have had some experience with its older sibling Selenium RC. I’ve never created a project like this from scratch before, though I have helped create one using HP QTP. I’m familiar with the basic steps of creating an automated test package, but I am in dire need of some education to help make better decisions before I dive in both feet first (and make an utter dog’s dinner of it).

So, I have subscribed to an excellent, free starter course by Dave Haeffner (which is delivered by email; and I shall also be watching this Youtube video:

We may have other options. I have also been familiarising myself with Visual Studio, a product I’ve not used before. I’ve downloaded the Community addition and tried a few guides, and it looks like a pretty decent IDE for coding. We will probably use C# (I’ll need to convert my java experience, but this seems doable). You can automate with Visual Studio  but you need the Enterprise edition (too expensive, most likely). We are also considering other tools, but Selenium seems to be a good choice for our needs.

I need to be careful not to concentrate so much on the automation that I forget to actually do some testing. It’s easy to get buried in technical solutions and ignore the important stuff. I’ll be sure to add some time in there for exploratory testing and I’ll be talking to our UX folks to assist with making sure that our users will like it.

So far my new job has been rather good. Lots of scope for learning new things, great people to work with and a fantastic supportive work environment.

Rosie needs your help

flickr photo shared by rutty under a Creative Commons ( BY-NC-SA ) license

I am a tester. I test software for a living, but I inevitably can’t help but test just about everything that comes my way. I wonder how things work – or, more likely, wonder why something was made that way. I internally correct other people’s grammar (even though mine isn’t exactly perfect) and get quite grumpy when ‘Enterprise’ software works like a dog.

I love testing and being a tester. I tried my hand at software development, and while I can write code I know where my strengths lie. I like testing so much that I regularly attend testing events in Nottingham, constantly read testing-related blogs and articles and try my best to help along other testers. I’ve still got a lot to learn about my trade, but the testing community is particularly good at helping each other, with a number of excellent resource sites and one particularly good tester community site, The Software Testing Club.

Rosie Sherry runs this site, along with a sister site that is aimed at tester training. There is all sorts of good stuff on there – it’s called The Ministry of Testing – and it’s worth the money to go ‘Pro’ and do some learning’ a-plenty.

However, Rosie is getting rather snowed under with stuff and needs the testing community’s help to grow this network. Have a read of her article ‘I Need Your Help‘ and see if you can do something.

Every time I try to decide how to best to grow this thing then I can’t help, but go back to how I need to work with the community.  However, now I need to do it in a more intense and focused way.

So, I’m on the hunt for Creators.  If you have projects, ideas, articles, meetups, events, videos or any other stuff that you would like to see happen then I WOULD LOVE TO HEAR FROM YOU.  Also, we have lots of things that we’d like to see happen so we’ll constantly be pitching ideas and opportunities.

Want to help? Give her a shout!

We have Jira. Now what?

We have Jira at work, and HP ALM. I quite like the former while utterly detesting the latter. We have quite a few, varied projects and our developers prefer Jira for their task management & defect needs, but Jira lacks a feature for the creation of test cases & tracking of related metrics. 

I am aware of various plugins for Jira that might fill that hole. I might write some posts on my investigations into these applications, or perhaps link to some other pertinent articles. 

This is just a short post for now. I’d like to blog more about testing and this is a reasonable topic to start. 

#NottsTest – January 2016

I have been going to the monthly #NottsTest meetups for a number of years, and they are always informative. We meet on the first Wednesday of each month – usually at the amazing Capital One software studio – where we have a couple of speakers, free beer and pizza, and a nice chat with fellow testers.

There were about 20 folks there last night to see Dan Caseley and Vernon Richards showcase their impressive tester chops to an enthralled audience. First up was Dan, who showed us some Lego-themed slides that explained how his first seven months at Unidays has gone.

flickr photo shared by rutty under a Creative Commons ( BY-NC-SA ) license

He was the first ever ‘proper’ tester to be employed at Unidays, and his talk showed how sometimes even the best laid plans need changing when the reality of software development team becomes apparent. Unidays is an impressive outfit and Dan has had to adjust his approach to testing as he’s gone along. It sounded like a fun experience.

flickr photo shared by rutty under a Creative Commons ( BY-NC-SA ) license

Dan did a great job of inserting some relevant quotes into his slides. Always include quotes from thought leaders.

Once Dan had eventually stopped talking (boy, he is an enthusiastic speaker) we had the pizza and beer – lovingly sponsored by Unidays.

The next speaker was Vern – the ‘Tester from Leicester’ – a man who allegedly likes tutus. He took us through his ‘Myths and Legends’ talk (famous from his Test Bash talk). Here are a few pictures:

Myths & Legends
flickr photo shared by rutty under a Creative Commons ( BY-NC-SA ) license
Testing is amazing
flickr photo shared by rutty under a Creative Commons ( BY-NC-SA ) license
Just click a few buttons
flickr photo shared by rutty under a Creative Commons ( BY-NC-SA ) license

I’d not heard Vern do a talk before, and I really enjoyed his humorous approach. The evening was a great, and I think everyone learned something useful (if only a slightly disturbing mental image involving Vern in a tutu).

Our next meetup is scheduled for the 3rd February. We’ve yet to find a speaker, so if you’re interesting give me a shout and I’ll pass on your details. There’s no fee, just free pizza and beer.

What motivates you?

I’ve been attending the Nottingham Agile meetups over the last year. They’ve all been excellent, with loads of good presentations aimed at making us better software developers.

Last night’s meetup was about Scrum Masters (and how to be a great one). The talk – by the always helpful and insightful Chris RF – included an amazing video. It’s an animated short that includes a talk about motivation by Dan Pink. Here it is:

This hits on a whole load of points covered in my Systems Thinking modules with the Open University. Autonomy and responsibility are far better motivators than remuneration, and the evidence supports this. You can’t fix poor results by offering bonuses – fix the system!

I don’t think that Agile is a panacea for systemic issues, but it’s a good start. It helps to encourage conversations between stakeholders and it should help organisations understand where problems are.

The second half of the meetup included a whistle-stop tour through Kanban by Leigh White; and he showed that this way of looking at problems can be used with any methodology. I’m generally unfamiliar with Kanban, but it is based on systems thinking principles and it does look useful for finding bottlenecks and helping to improve flow. No scrums required (although I’m generally a fan of scrum). It was an excellent talk too – I really need to find our more.