"Some birds aren't meant to be caged, their feathers are just too bright"- Morgan Freeman, Shawshank Redemption. This blog is from one such bird who couldn't be caged by organizations who mandate scripted software testing. Pradeep Soundararajan welcomes you to this blog and wishes you a good time here and even otherwise.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Why fake pilots scam is headlines in India while fake testers scam is not?

At home, while the whole family was watching a reality show, I happened to take the liberty of changing the channel to NDTV 24x7, a leading news channel. A news that had been making headlines over the last couple of days was a prime time discussion.

The issue is this. A pilot produced fake document to get and got to fly a commercial airliner. Once /a/ pilot was identified to be faking, the investigation began to check if there could be more. Eventually, a flying training school was identified to be helping pilots who wanted to fake their number of hours of flying experience in trade of money. It appears that the norms of the civil aviation mandate at least 250 hours of flying + a simulator test before a pilot is inducted. Turns out that those pilots who faked hardly clocked 40 hours.

An experienced pilot was invited on prime time to talk to share his views and he shared something like this, "I am more surprised how these pilots got through the simulator test. If someone fakes the flying hours, they should have been caught at the simulator test. So, there needs to be a scrutiny into how the simulator tests are conducted".

I listened to that and started laughing. People at my home for a moment shifted their focus from the television to me. This is not the first time they are seeing me react to something in a different way than what they thought someone would. Yes, I was definitely thinking about software testing and those who fake their experience. I guess, people at my home know why I laugh.

As you know, I am a strong advocate against faking. I have written a blog post against faking experience and also do have a podcast on it. If you go through the comments section of the blog post, you'd know how people have tried using all F words, B words and A words against me. What you don't know is that, there have been people who have written emails to me abusing me for not understanding why they faked. Most of these people were hoping the world would sympathize against them but they saw me helping them learn that they are spoiling the craft I respect so much. They couldn't tolerate me as much as I couldn't tolerate them.

I was laughing after I heard the news because a thought crossed my mind. I imagined a situation where all testers who have faked their testing experience are put on a flight where both pilots have faked their experience and then there is a thunderstorm and there is an engine failure mid flight. Pam Pam Pam!

Wow! I love to put a camera over there and watch how those fake testers are reacting to such a situation. Now, am I such a sadist to watch people cry out for their life? Not at all. I want to let these people know I care for them but how? It may appear from my previous blog post about faking that I have behaved like an aggressive pitbull and they reciprocate the same when we have bumped into each other.

After a couple of years of writing that post, I see that my focus has shifted from those who fake from those who facilitate people to fake.

Here is a story : Srividya (name changed) sent an email to me telling that she completed a testing course in an institute in Bangalore and she felt they were unethical. She also mentioned that the institute had provided certificates to a lot of testers in her batch and she suspected the same might have happened to hundreds of batches they churned out and to all future batches. Now, every student of that institute didn't buy the idea of faking immediately but to convince them, the institute organized a meet with their alumni (who had faked and got a job in top companies in India). I was so excited to be interacting with a person like her and then she invited me over coffee to talk more details.

On meeting her I discovered her story to be inspiring to a lot of people who would fake their experience as a tester. Most often, it is the desperateness to get a job that drives people to fake. She was the only earning member of her family and she had two brothers studying college. She was working in a BPO after completing her engineering degree and found out that she wanted to get into IT (a typical story). However, what she told me was, "Its easy for a person like me to give in to faking experience and getting a job but I don't want to do that because I have personal ethics that don't allow me to do. I would get in touch with all my friends over the next couple of months who may help me financially, till I get a job as a tester without the fake one".

I was so happy to meet such people. It also made me realize the fact that all these years my focus was on people who end up faking but not on those who opposed it and didn't give in to it. I would definitely want to hire such people for Moolya and I bet these testers would shine and help the company shine.

What I find funny is that NASSCOM is aware of such things or if they are not aware, its a bigger sin. They don't appear to have been bold enough to make a statement as beautiful as the one I am going to make, "All fakers, beware, if you are caught, you can never work in IT".

I see a chemical equation and I am going to help you see it. I have heard from sources who don't want to be quoted at all that faking happens not just by candidates seeking job but also by services companies. So, there goes the balance of the equation. Some clients insist that they need someone with some kinda tool experience for a specific number of years, irrespective of whether the tool exists that many years.

I guess it was Michael Bolton who once pointed out in twitter that he saw a job ad asking potential candidates to have experience in a specific tool for many years while the tool just was introduced a couple of years ago. I wouldn't be surprised if someone applied to the job and got it because their resume' did show the experience asked for.

I am asking the same question, "Why didn't the simulator tests (interview) catch the fake pilots (testers)?"
Time and again, we have been debating a more stringent way of determining experience and what you might be seeing in STC Job board is a change I am happy to be seeing. If I were to write from the influence of the book Outliers ( Malcom Gladwell ), I would have to say, "I am so glad I was born at the right time to see the most important transition happening in testing".

So, coming to the question of why fake pilots scam makes headlines in our country while fake testers scam is not, is because most people in our so called industry think its not as risky as hiring fake pilots to hire testers who have faked their experience. I think its equally dangerous. It may not directly result in loss of lives but it definitely results in loss of a lot of business and hence a lot of jobs and hence a lot of lives are impacted.

Now, someone from NASSCOM is going to say, "Hey, Pradeep doesn't know anything.We have National Skills Registry in place". I don't know why such a powerful organization as NASSCOM isn't putting the red hot iron on such institutes who don't fear to announce in their class, "Students, go fake. You will still get a good life". Oh, by the way, some of the fakers I know got into some of leading companies registered under NASSCOM. So, dear NASSCOM, who is using your National Skills Registry and why don't you publish how many fakers are prevented from getting a job?

Once in a while companies like Wipro, Infosys, TCS announce they have caught the fakers and have removed them from their jobs. Don't believe? Read it here. OK, I appreciate it and what next? Has it stopped? I bet not.

Now, there is another pattern you notice. It's the Indian IT services companies that have caught a few fakers. What about the product organizations? Having worked at product companies (of whom some don't do any background checks) I know their interview process is stringent as compared to the IT services. Also, they don't hire in bulk as much the Indian IT services do. So, there you go. However, I know a few fakers who got through some product firms but I guess, they deserved it for the kind of interview process they had.

As you see from the news, it is a civil offence and I guess an organization like NASSCOM should make a press release. Well, well, well. Who wants to admit that our IT industry lacks a lot of ethics?

Almost everyone in the IT industry and a couple of years of experience on their belt earn sufficient money to make themselves look clean and good. There are definitely a lot of real good people but what's the use. They don't fight against the bad. I guess, the problem is that they are good but not good enough.

I had a false dream a couple of years ago that I could change this whole faking thing happening in India. I walked into a training center pretending to be a person who wants a fake certificate and recorded the conversation I had with the institute as a proof I could show it to the world. I then was advised to focus on people who deserve my time. I have been trying to do that but often realize that the institutes who promote fake experience also deserve my time and attention. I just lack the support I would have needed.

The students in such institutes have already demonstrated by being silent to the bad advice that they don't care . So is NASSCOM, appearing to me as ignorant in bringing a permanent solution to this.

If someone from NASSCOM is going to read this post (which is so unlikely) and is at least as bold as me, I want you to know that if there is one person in India who can help NASSCOM identify and put a permanent stop to this solution, its me. Do you care? I bet not. Will I continue to care? I bet yes.

I am not trying to project, "I am a hero, don't you see that" kind of an image through this blog post but I am trying to project an image that, "You may be a hero and if you are one, speak out. Most importantly, do in your own ways something to prevent the faking thing to grow bigger by each day. At Moolya, our hiring process doesn't ask for someone's CV in the first place. Its their skills and then more skills and then much more skills that matter. The world doesn't listen to small time businessman like me. I need to be an Azim Premji or Narayana Murthy. If I become one, I shall eradicate this whole faking business in testing.

We need to figure out a way to rehabilitate those who have succumbed to the need to fake. That's another thought which if new to me that I didn't have a couple of years ago.

This issue isn't headlines, yet. This shouldn't get to that point. That's all. 


Sumit said...

What do you mean by "Fake Tester"? You mean showing extra years in resume?

Now lets look into the other side -
Even though you have valid degree and have valid years of experience as per papers but you can fake a test project. If you can fake a test project then you are a "fake tester".

[If you want to know how to fake a test project, then get in tough with James Bach.He has some excellent slides n faking a test project.

You can stop others from being a "one side of fake tester" by doing background verification checks, etc. But you cannot stop others from being the "second side of fake tester" which I have mentioned above.

Pradeep Soundararajan said...

@QTP Admin,

My response is in the blog itself.

Fake Software Tester said...

Hi Pradeep,

So many mentions of "fake" in your post, I thought I'd add a comment of mine too. I don't want google search results returning this post when someone searches for the "fake tester" :)!!!

Seriously speaking, you have written about faking experience, faking certificates, faking tests, etc. But I think this is just the tip of the ice-berg. The bigger danger lies in the "fake practices" of testing and the speed at which I am seeing this fakeness grow. Again, I am seeing a propaganda showcasing some of these "fake practices" as "best practices", which makes the problem even bigger. The only way out seems to be self-realization, rather than policing. Just my thoughts!!!

Anonymous said...

Pradeep... Your posts are very interesting...but at the same time they are kind of lengthy... I guess you can send the same message but in a shorter version.
By the way, if someone is faking their experience, its because there are no companies like Moolya who would only hire someone based on their skills rather than exp.
Unfortunately I had to fake my experience (after struggling for 3 yrs) to land in a job... and now I am doing relatively good... !!
Its very difficult to eradicate this system...!!! but wish you good luck for trying out the same and passing out your thinking...
while trying for jobs in USA and being interviewed by our desis.... 90% of them asked me the questions from the websites...rather than asking from real life experience...!!! which is still frustrating...!!!

sunjeet81 said...

"Why didn't the simulator tests (interview) catch the fake pilots (testers)?"

Resonates with the 1 lakh rupee question, "why do criminals go scott free inspite of the Indian Penal code being there !?"

As with any kind of "tests"...
Problem is realtively lesser with the "tests" to scan fakers ,
More severe problem is with the intent/context of the people scanning fakers

Till the time organizations keep their head buried in the sand and keep on rejecting CVs due to lack of "keywords" or "toolnames",until that time people would keep on "faking" claims in their CVs.


Arindam said...

Client verification is required to stop Tester s to produce their fake experience

Now when the Indian Software Testing market is booming and offering a good package to software testers by understanding their values and their technical skills to find out software defects, many cunning people are getting greedy to get that package without even putting any effort.
It’s the responsibility of software industries to find out these people and sack them from their job. Though this is a tough challenge but according to me if the testers asked to produce client verification documents we can still minimize the risk of having fake resources in our team.
For example I have seen many people got job stating they have worked for a big “xyz” MNC but they’re not under their payroll they have been outsourced by some “abc” consultancy.
In general our software industry asks for the experience details of that “abc” consultancy. I’d suggest if we can have one round of verification check from the clients’ end that would be great especially for the candidates who claimed themselves that they have worked for “xyz” MNC but they’re under “abc” consultancy payroll.

With Regards,

Deeps said...

Hi Pradeep,

I felt the timing of this blog was excellent to make many more people who read your blog, realise and stop giving in towards faking experience.

The story of Srividhya shows how the institutes are proudly showcasing that faking is fine by bringing their alumni. What a contrast to one of the prime institutes promoting honesty(IIM Lucknow). There was a particular line from the article which I would like to include here "...Do remember that for every hand that takes, there are hands that give. You will have to cut off those hands," J.J.Irani told the students' gathering.

Reading this blog there would be many who would oppose as in your previous blog on similar topic, but many would come forward to support your cause as well,i'm one among them.

Hope IIM Lucknow, Moolya Software Testing Services, stand an example and inspiration to many many more institutes & companies to support honesty, promote skills rather than just taking something just mentioned in papers (resume, bookish terms alone)


Alain Bohon said...

This one reminds me of this funny blog post: http://neilbowers.wordpress.com/2008/08/11/pink-box-testing/

Pradeep Soundararajan said...

@Alain Bohon,

Yeah, similar to Black Viper Testing Technique : http://testertested.blogspot.com/2010/01/black-viper-testing-technique.html