The "Joel Test" lists 12 items to look for in a software company:

  1. Do you use source control?
  2. Can you make a build in one step?
  3. Do you make daily builds?
  4. Do you have a bug database?
  5. Do you fix bugs before writing new code?
  6. Do you have an up-to-date schedule?
  7. Do you have a spec?
  8. Do programmers have quiet working conditions?
  9. Do you use the best tools money can buy?
  10. Do you have testers?
  11. Do new candidates write code during their interview?
  12. Do you do hallway usability testing?

If you're a tester looking for a testing job, is this the right set of things to look for?


4 Answers 4


As a tester, I can say that I'd prefer to work on a team with a high score on the Joel test.

However, the Joel test doesn't necessarily cover some of the things that testers run into. I actually wrote a version of the Joel Test for testers. I didn't think I had the clout to call it the Alan Test, so I just called it the Test Test.

Here's what's in it. The Alan Test – aka "The Test Test"

  1. Are testers influential from day one of the project?
  2. Does the test team own their own schedule?
  3. Does the test manager report to the general manager (and not to development)?
  4. Are career paths for testers and developers equal?
  5. Do the developers value testers?
  6. Do testers have the same working conditions and resources as development?
  7. Do testers use good test case management and source control tools?
  8. Are tests built daily?
  9. Are automated tests and manual tests valued appropriately?
  10. Do testers have the same coding guidelines and rules as developers?
  11. Is there a culture of quality?

Full explanation of the list is here

  • 1
    12 Do you have cross functional testers in team team i.e. Manual, Automation, Performance etc
    – Tarun
    Commented May 4, 2011 at 4:35
  • 1
    I like the Alan Test. As someone downstream from developers, you should care what kind of practices the developers follow. However, it is the rare organization that treats testers better than developers. If the organization passes the Alan Test, it probably passes the Joel test too.
    – user246
    Commented Jul 18, 2011 at 23:54
  • 2
    +1 because I love the list, and agree with the points. I don't think it's as effective an interview tool though. The Joel Test questions are concrete yes/no questions, with the exception of q9. In this list, 1/5/7/9/11 aren't concrete enough questions to be useful. ie. the interviewer could easily be wrong, while thinking they're right, and the work environment would be very different than reported. Commented Jul 19, 2011 at 22:00
  • 5
    Love this list (apparently this is the second time I've +1'd it), but I'd add something about PM / test relations, specifically. Something like, "Does the PM understand the test role and their part in enabling testers?" I've actually had little trouble getting respect from devs, but I've had PMs argue that the schedule doesn't need any time set aside for testing after code complete if I do my job right, or they've updated the developers verbally when the spec changes drastically without telling test (or even updating the written spec). Commented Aug 23, 2011 at 0:30
  • 1
    @Ethel I feel you there. Bearing in mind that our PMs also do the testing, we only within the last 2 months got approval to have them test the projects added in the release. They can't believe how many of them don't integrate with the rest of the system, and then come back on the developers for it. In time, I'm sure they'll realize this is a normal part of development. :)
    – corsiKa
    Commented Dec 5, 2011 at 19:43

Several of these points are directly related to QA/testing job.

  1. Can you make a build in one step?
    A long build process with numerous steps, scripts and procedures reduces the time for actual testing. Also such process can add its own bugs, which are pain in the butt to investigate.
  2. Do you have a bug database?
    That's obvious. No bug database means no bug tracking, hence half-assed bug fixing; and no bug analytics, hence monkey patching of module instead of deeper refactoring and bug-preventing coding.
  3. Do you have a spec?
    That's obvious too. No spec — no test requirements, no test priorities, no product knowledge, no bigger picture of a product.
  4. Do you have testers?
    One thing to work as a tester in a team with testers (i.e. some established QA procedures), and another is to work in a team with no testers at all.

I think it depends entirely on what you are looking to accomplish in your testing work. Is it simply to have one reliable job? Do you want to see what kinds of testing and industries are like to work in? What kind of software is being developed?

These questions are not at all viable if you are looking to help teams improve their quality from where they are currently. We don't need all of our best testers sitting their butts in some fluffy chair at the few places they actually have a valued team using the same tools and not inventing anything new.

I enjoy consulting because it isn't the same job at the same place with the same people and the same tools over and over. It is solving new problems and learning how to work with different people from different places. I think it's exciting to be able to see a variety of projects and even to start something entirely new.

Is your job to please yourself, or to help a client? Are you a follower who needs everything already in place for you, or are you a trailblazer who can set it up? I think it takes both types of people, and there is a need for talent both to sustain good companies who earn their money in non-software areas, and for small companies to grow. Do I want to feel like Disneyland when I go to a company meeting, or do I want to CEO to call me after dinner sometimes, or something in between. There isn't a simple list to go by. Who are you, and what are you good at?


First of all, most of questions in Joel test are related to working/engineering process in team/company hence they're related to QA's as well. What's more, answering on each question could help for candidate to understand whether company is appropriate to work in, so I believe
yes, Joel test is appropriate.

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