Pair Testing, How Successful Were You?

I recently read a blog post from @maaret

which I found really useful to differentiate between the styles of pair testing that you can try.

I’ve tried pairing before with mixed levels of success. I even spoke about it at Leeds Test Atelier. In the beginning, it really didn’t work for me and the other software tester I was pairing with. We weren’t totally engaged in the activity at all.

I was wondering if you have tried pairing, how successful were you? Have you any suggestions of common mistakes people make when they are starting out with pairing? How would you overcome those?

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For tips on how to be engaged in the roles, you may also want to read my followup article:

In all honesty, pairing is not easy for me at all. It is very difficult. I feel inferior and I’m always afraid to be found out for what I am, and I get very easily shouted over by people who are more extroverted that I am. It takes a lot of safety for me to do.


Months ago I wrote a blog about trying to get testers aware of pair testing where I work via our Test Community of Practice -

Since then, it never really went anywhere. People are adverse to working in that way with others, and would rather be their own island, sit alone, do their work, but go and chat with people when they need a break. And it is very frustrating, as I want people to work together, share knowledge, and help upskill.

I find it is a cultural thing, as the company never encouraged working in such a way, and getting people who have worked the same way for years to try something new isn’t easy.

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I remember @melthetester saying in a podcast that pairing works better if you have a rapport built up with the person. I’ve found that to be true in my own experiences but also found it risky as we became easily distracted when we had too much of a rapport built up so I’d love to find the happy in between area.


I really want to do some MOB programming as an experiment in the development team. We are tracking pair work, which highlights hot spots, and cold spots. Trying to find a better balance for pair working, and trying to get a variety of job roles to pair together.

Agree that you need to strike a balance between banter and work.

Generally I think there are two kinds of pairing, one where one person is almost doing a knowledge transfer (but can be challenged and learning too), the other kind when you both want to hack out the best ideas using combined knowledge.

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