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A Qualified Answer


The Association for Software Testing is crowd-sourcing a book, Navigating the World as a Context-Driven Tester, which aims to provide responses to common questions and statements about testing from a context-driven perspective.

It's being edited by Lee Hawkins who is posing questions on Twitter,  LinkedIn,  Slack, and the AST mailing list and then collating the replies, focusing on practice over theory.

I've decided to contribute by answering briefly, and without a lot of editing or crafting, by imagining that I'm speaking to someone in software development who's acting in good faith, cares about their work and mine, but doesn't have much visibility of what testing can be.

Perhaps you'd like to join me?

 --00--

"Whenever possible, you should hire testers with testing certifications" 

Interesting. Which would you value more? (a) a candidate who was sent on loads of courses approved by some organisation you don't know and run by a consultancy, attended grudgingly, participated half-heartedly, scraped a pass, and then never looked at the PowerPoint course notes again, or (b) a candidate who self-funded attendance at an uncertified workshop run by testing practitioners, read around the topics covered, cemented their learning by applying it to open source projects, and blogged extensively about the experience.

Yes, in general I'd pick (b) as well. 

The problem is that it's pretty much always possible to hire testers with testing certifications but we've just established that certifications are not the be-all and end-all for you, so your possible must be doing some additional work?

It is? OK, let me paraphrase how I think you're thinking?

After checking all the absolute must-have requirements, reflecting on how candidates could fill the gaps we have and what gaps we could make for them, thinking about how the candidates presented themselves and their work and their perspectives on how they work, and getting a feel for how the candidate actually works through conversation and exercises, we might use certifications as indicative metadata.

That's about right? OK, thanks.

As it happens, I don't entirely disagree that whether a candidate has formal certifications could be a factor in choosing them. 

But ...

But having the piece of paper tells us very little. If we truly care about the certification, we should ask which body issued it, why the candidate took the course, what they feel they got from it, whether they would do it again or recommend it to others, and so on and so on.

Just like we would about the other aspects of their experience that we consider relevant to the position we're hiring for.
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