China’s cultural bias against creativity makes recruiting Chinese software testers difficult

In China, there is this notion of the ‘master’ or shifu (师傅). This notion or concept exists in almost all walks of life, from martial arts, art, religion, music, and countless others. The Chinese spend many years learning from, and being loyal to, a ‘master’ who teaches them and imparts their wisdom. In doing so, they copy the master. This idea of learning from, of copying, the master is deeply ingrained in Chinese culture. This characteristic can be beneficial in many ways. For instance, many beautiful and useful traditions dating back hundreds of years exist today in China as they did when the first master coined them.

Doing as the master does is particularly rewarded in today’s Chinese education system. Students who want to find a different way than the master’s/teacher’s to arrive at a solution find themselves taking home poor grades. Yet these are often the most creative students in the group. For businesses like XBOSoft, this can make recruiting employees in China tricky.

While you might think we would want testers who run the same tests and look for the same results repeatedly, that’s exactly what we don’t want. We need people who look at each software testing situation as a unique challenge, who can design creative user stories to ferret out the hidden flaws in the software. So, when recruiting in China, we often find that the students who didn’t do so well in college become far better testers than those who were awarded top academic honors. You can read more about this phenomenon, and why “following the leader” is so ingrained in the Chinese mind, by reading my LinkedIn article, In China, It’s ‘Follow the Leader, Don’t Become One.’