Thursday, November 6, 2008

I Don't Know!

Lessons comes from the consistent practice we do, from the mistakes we commit, by looking at the mistakes of our peers & other people, by interacting, by inferences we make, by reference we look for, by conferences we go for and etc. Being myself a tester by my soul and not just for a profession, getting plenty of lessons every day from the sources (more correctly they are resources that makes me to think and question myself) that I look at.

I always have a determination and focused mindset to take up testing tasks that makes my mind to generate questions continuously by thinking. When I met testers, most said, domain knowledge is very important to test. But, I had my tester who is within me, saying, "Concentrate and practice on the skills and practice with focused mindset to test anything given at any time by questioning; never hesitate to question".

As like all other interview procedure, one day I got a call from HR, asking when you are free in this week for taking up an interview for testing position. I asked her, when interview panel is available at your place for the interview. She said today at 3 PM and me too agreed.

I never tested any electronic product except my mobile phone, my monitor, my friend's CPU, my friend's laptop, my digital watch, the elevator at my workplace and my friend's digital camera. When I asked the HR regarding the company address, she gave the address and description of the company.

I was happy that, the interview was for the Telecommunication domain. But still, I said HR as I am not a graduate of Electronics or Telecommunication and does it meet the position requirement. But, I can test those products and system of electronics and telecommunications. After couple of minutes she confirmed and said, we will be happy to see you today at 3 PM for the interview.

The interview panel consisted two members. They introduced themselves, where one was the Director of Quality Assurance for the company and the other person was Test Manager. They started conversations saying, "we are not young in age as you, but we are young as you in the spirit". I was very glad, to see them and the conversations showed the tester within them. The room had four chairs; myself and two interviewers were seated and one chair remained with no person to sit.

Interviewer A: Can you sit on that chair?
Me: Can I know, why should I sit on that chair? Why not here?
Interviewer B: So that we all here can have comfort talk.
Interviewer A: Is it possible for you sit on that chair?
Me: I don't know!
Interviewer B: What you don't know? It so good chair then you are seated now. Why can't you sit on that chair?
Me: I does not know whether I can fit on that chair or can make use of that chair to my purpose.
Interviewer A: You are thin enough to be seated on that chair. Then, what is stopping you?
Me: Without sitting and confirming that I can make use of that chair, I cannot tell you, that chair is usable by me.
Interviewer B: What is making you to think that, the chair might be not usable by you without sitting or more rightly without TESTING it.
Me: Might be the chair may not withstand my 57 KG weight, or it might be not to my comfort on which I am seated on now, or it might be too heavy for lifting it to here since I am comfort in this place to be seated, or it might be time consuming to move chair over here if it has no wheels and weighs bit more than the chair on which I am seated, or it might be wet, or it might have lot of dust upon it, or it might have pests that feeds on my blood, or it might be for my other good friends i.e., people who are challenged physically, or it might be chair that is used to make BAKRA. This are the few reasons to say, "I don't know," for I can sit on that chair or not.

Interviewer B: I liked that BAKRA!
Interviewer A: Then, how did you sit on the chair you are seated now, without testing it.
Me: Well, I tested the chair while we all were standing thirty minutes back.

Like this our conversation went on. One more question that we get in most of the interviews is , "explain me your project". Where I did not tell what my project details at all in the interviews I had been so far. But, these two people did not even ask this question i.e., 'explain your project'. Instead they asked, "what is the role of yours in the testing you do with your team?". They strongly adhered not to disturb the NDA (Non Disclosure Agreement) policy, which each company will have. Neither my little resume will not have and did not had such details of project.

I kept writing all my observations from, what they gave me to test. I explained them why was that observations and justified them. I was enjoying the interview and it was different from the other interviews I had been for.

Interviewers never bought up Telecommunications or Electronics during interview. I was curious to know, what I will be doing in that company. And, was happy to know that I will be testing one of their product that is used at real time by people.

After testing, and brainstorming tasks, they came to the package negotiation. By now, my testing mind started to get confused. I am not good at that negotiation task still. Totally, I was in the other thoughts of negotiation and they too were talking regarding it.

Interviewer A: Does this pen write?
Me: Yes.
Interviewer B: What?
Interviewer A: Are you fine? How did you infer that pen write, when it is in my hand?
Interviewer B: Thought it is your pen, what he has in his hand now; it might not have written when you have used it again.
Me: I felt like, Tester within me slapped my face and said where are you lost? Wake up from negotiation thoughts.
Interviewer A: I expected "I Don't Know!".
Interviewer B: Never forget your word what you said today i.e. "I Don't Know!". I love that word.
Interviewer A: The tester within you was engaged in working out negotiation, and that made to take off the questioning mind of yours. Being a tester, we too practice that still i.e., to have our mind always in testing perspective at all time. We too do not forget your words "I Don't Know!".
Interviewer B: What is your joining date?
Me: I Don't Know!
Interviewer A: He has caught it, isn't it Interviewer B.
Interviewer B: Yes! What is your probable date to join our test team? We would love to see you with us.
Me: I will intimate tomorrow.

I did not accept the offer due to some of my emotions, but the lessons what they gave me during the interview was different from the other interview I had been for. Those lessons were truly worth one and I have to remember them forever. That's what made their product so well established in the competitive market.

I believe they are reading this now or might have read this little writing by now. I remember this two testing minds, before I start my thinking and questioning with a word "I Don't Know!" and What it is, why it is so and if not, why so?.


  • More than any domain knowledge in testing, the testing skills are more important to a tester. Focus on them. We will learn any domain testing and can test any domain, when we have proper testing skills to test anything at anytime by questioning the product or system under test.
  • Do not say blindly, it works or looks fine for a person without making use of it i.e., more rightly without testing it. It might fit & work for other user in her/his context but not in our context.
  • Do not just accept anything without questioning; if accepted without questioning, we are carrying the fire in our hands without any fire exits; that fire can catch and spread with severe things to pay off.
  • Interviews are great source of learning. Keep attending them as it helps ourselves to know where we are and where we have to pull our socks. Learning is not just in TESTING we do, but it comes in different aspects apart from testing, which go beyond the values that one can give.
  • If interviews are of telling your ongoing and previous project details, never do that. You have signed NDA (Non Disclosure Agreement) for your employer and we will be violating the company policies if we tell our ongoing project details. Do not mention on the resume too. Being ourselves the testers, if we do not test our resume and presentation of ourselves in the interviews, will be of no worth.
  • Before starting up testing our product or System Under Test, say I Don't Know what it does and should mean it to ourselves.

To conclude, whether the above written is useful to you? I Don't Know!

Love Testing!


  1. When you sent this mail to me, I was thinking this is just one more forward. But when I saw your signature, then astonished! Really a great experience for you man. I would love to know the company name for which you have been interviewed and why you didnt join?
    Looks like its a great company right?
    Let me know your opinion. Either a personal mail or here is fine for me.

  2. This is really a very good article of yours.

  3. "To conclude, whether the above written was useful to you? I Don't Know! "
    Test result = YES. :)

    I also particularly liked this statement ;
    "Interviews are great source of learning."
    You are very correct in that one learns a lot at interviews.

    I also am very happy to see that you stated twice the information about nondisclosure. Believe it or not, I have been asked more than once in interviews to provide a sample of my work. I have refused each time (politely of course) with the explanation that all my work belonged to the client to which I was contracted, and I did not have the rights to show it to anyone. I wondered if perhaps that was a trick question to see if I would honor my nondisclosure.

    Now, here's a question. Did you really have the "chair" conversation in an interview? I actually giggled a bit while reading it. I was picturing an interview starting out with the chair conversation. I think I'd be a little bit disconcerted if I were in that situation.

  4. @ Triguna

    Thanks for going through the writings of Testing Garage and for writing a comment.

    I love to learn testing, and how to think, how to question by doing sapient testing. Where ever I work, it does not matter whether it is a big boys or small boys for my testing mind.

    All I want is not problems, but I want those problems as a challenges for my testing.


  5. @ Santhi Jaiganesh,

    Thanks for the first comment of yours. To speak truth, I learnt what is NDA from you. Thanks for being teaching me lot.

    It is your first comment for Testing Garage and I am very glad to see that you read my little writings in your busy time too.


  6. @ Jean James,
    Thanks for
    "Test result = YES. :)"

    Interview reveals to oneself what and where she/he is.

    Being testers ourselves we should keep up the NDA.

    Yes, that chair conversation did happen and it was a very memorable one. I am thankful to the two testing minds, which gave me opportunity to bring up a new word from my mouth "I Don't Know!"


  7. Ravi,

    First of all it's refreshing to know/hear about a different take on the testing interviews. I thank you and the interviewers and only hope this catches on.

    "I Don't Know" - I feel we (Indians) should practice more in using the 3 words. Be it school, colleague, home, office, we rarely use this, and face consequences.

    And, dude you have misspelled my name in your Blog Roll list :-)


  8. @ Sharath,

    Sorry! I have spelled your good name incorrectly. I have fixed it. It was a bug and you have found it :-)

    Yes, it was truly a new experience in the testing interview. Interviewers were looking at the skills of sapient testing, which is very hard to find such interviews today.

    Me too eager to see the people using those 3 words by questioning and thinking.. I Don't Know, when I can see that happening... Hope it should very near...

    Thanks for writing a comment on my little writing.



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