Interviewing our FailQonf Speaker James Bach | Failure Stories, Mentoring, Reading

James Bach

Each of our FailQonf Speakers has years of experience behind them and a crazy amount of knowledge acquired over those years. It would be bad on our part if we restrict their stories to only their FailQonf sessions. We are as eager as you all to know them and their journey better, and hence this Interview Series.

We had a few questions in mind for which we wished to get answers from all of them, and there were questions we designed based on the little research we did on their work and life. We so enjoyed the process and now as we have the answers with us, we are enjoying it even more. We are sure you will enjoy this interview too.


In this interview, I (Aakruti Shukla) took the opportunity to ask our FailQonf Speaker James Bach a few questions about Failures, Lessons learned, and a part of their amazing work in the Industry. We thank James Bach for their time to answer these, and for sharing a part of their life with us.

About James Bach: James is a founder of the Context-Driven school of testing. He created and teaches the Rapid Software Testing methodology, and has written two books: Lessons Learned in Software Testing (with Cem Kaner and Bret Pettichord) and a book about succeeding without going to a school, called Secrets of a Buccaneer-Scholar.

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Aakruti: You recently completed 34 Years in Testing, from your experience what are the top 3-5 weaknesses of Testers which still exist?


  • Poor grasp of the science behind testing
  • Lack of assertiveness and too much willingness to do bad work
  • Inability to explain testing to non-testers
  • Not understanding their own testing process


Aakruti: If you had to start your Testing career today, what would you do differently compared to most of the Testers starting their Career?
James: I imagine I would do the same thing I did when I started my career 34 years ago—

Read every book on testing and then re-think and re-invent testing for myself.


Aakruti: How would you suggest the Testers to find their Mentor(s) today? Rather than where to find, what should be the process to identify the right mentor?
James: Read blogs and watch videos. Attend conferences. Contact the people who inspire you. Some of them will respond.


Aakruti: Have there been any failures that made your professional life better? Any lessons learned from the same.
James: There have been many. Here’s one: I failed to get a job as a “computer operator” at a local insurance office in Chico, CA. I never found out why. It was painful because I really needed the money.

Anyway, two weeks later I got hired at Apple Computer, which was my dream job.

Here’s the lesson:

Hiring is a personal matter. Never obsess about why one employer doesn’t want you. Just move on to the one who does.


Aakruti: Any experience you would want to share wherein you learned from someone’s failure and based on that lesson you actually avoided a similar failure at work?
James: Sure. Throughout my career, I have seen people who wrote loads of useless test cases and piles of bad test documentation. Because they’ve already tried that, I never felt that I needed to do it myself.


Aakruti: You are an avid Reader, what different methods would you suggest for reading quickly yet getting the most out of the reading?
James: Learn to scout a book: skim it quickly and summarize it to get a sense of what’s in it. I practiced doing this with my brother and made a video about it called “competitive swashbooking.” I think it’s still on Youtube.

When I read a book deeply, I read slowly. But the scouting process is fast.


Aakruti: What is the most interesting failure you have experienced, which kicked hard, but once you learned from it you achieved the double of what was expected in the next attempts?
James: I’ve been married twice. My first marriage lasted five years. When it ended I decided to learn and improve from that experience so that my next marriage would last longer. The key lesson I gleaned is that my wife had been afraid to tell me her feelings because she was worried I would stop loving her. I realized that my dominating personality was actually leading me to have less control and security than if I made sure to listen and support what she wanted.
A year later, I met someone new, got married again, and this month will be our 30th anniversary. That is SIX times the duration of my first try at matehood. So, that’s pretty good.


We hope you enjoyed reading this amazing interview. Let us know your thoughts in the Comments section.

We can guarantee that you are going to enjoy FailQonf even more. Have yourself enrolled here if you have not done it so far. Please note there is a Free Pass option for the ones who cannot afford the Paid one in these difficult times. See you there.

About the Host:

Aakruti is working with Xoriant, Pune as Senior Test Engineer​​. She loves testing and had avoided many other paths that came across her career and chose to be a Tester, happily and proudly.

She likes to explore and experiment with new concepts, ideas, and thoughts, which can help in performing the tasks more efficiently and bring more quality to the product.

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