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value of certification + comparative hiring practices

Mansukhdeep Thind
Ranch Hand

Joined: Jul 27, 2010
Posts: 1157

Your signature says
OCAJP
.

This is one issue that I feel needs to be urgently addressed while designing a certification course. I have seen this with many people(at least in my personal work experience of 5+ years in Indian IT industry) who claim to be OCJPs and OCAJPs and what not. And when you test them on the most basic of concepts, they don't know their way around it. It could be that , in this particular case, Meeta did not grasp the concepts clearly and somehow managed to clear the certification. But that is exactly my point. I am not in any manner criticizing her. My point is that design the certification objectives bottom up in a manner which make sure that unless a person has such fundamental concepts clear in his/her brain, he/she cannot clear the exam.

@Meeta : Don't take this personally. I am just voicing my opinion. No hard feelings please.

[MODERATOR NOTE: This thread was split from http://www.coderanch.com/t/608373/java/java/Final]


~ Mansukh
meeta gaur
Ranch Hand

Joined: Dec 05, 2012
Posts: 305

Mansukhdeep Thind wrote:Your signature says
OCAJP
.

This is one issue that I feel needs to be urgently addressed while designing a certification course. I have seen this with many people(at least in my personal work experience of 5+ years in Indian IT industry) who claim to be OCJPs and OCAJPs and what not. And when you test them on the most basic of concepts, they don't know their way around it. It could be that , in this particular case, Meeta did not grasp the concepts clearly and somehow managed to clear the certification. But that is exactly my point. I am not in any manner criticizing her. My point is that design the certification objectives bottom up in a manner which make sure that unless a person has such fundamental concepts clear in his/her brain, he/she cannot clear the exam.

@Meeta : Don't take this personally. I am just voicing my opinion. No hard feelings please.


I'm not agree with you.They put best syllabus for certification if you don't feel try new exams.When you study for any exam, you study all details, which usually not much consider in daily work routine because of IDE(BTW I'm not working),and when you get pass exam it doesn't mean you will have always memorize those small small things without being in touch and practice with that technology.If someone has forgotten something that is not a big issue, if you know how thing works you can recall within in a minute.It could be better that you offer such advice to oracle such that they will design a syllabus so after passing exam candidate will never forget things and will have remember for life time.


My one regret in life is that I am not someone else.
- Woody Allen
Jeff Verdegan
Bartender

Joined: Jan 03, 2004
Posts: 6109
    
    6

meeta gaur wrote:When you study for any exam, you study all details, which usually not much consider in daily work routine because of IDE


Before anyone begins using an IDE, they should know those "details" (like that you can't put a statement at class level-- a very simple, important, and fundamental point that we encounter every time we code) thoroughly enough that it's automatic, so that using the IDE won't cause them to forget it.

If someone has forgotten something that is not a big issue, if you know how thing works you can recall within in a minute.


But to take this specific example, if the exam were designed properly, then a person who passes it, upon seeing that compiler error, would easily recall the rule and understand why the error occurred, or would be able to figure it out quickly on their own, as you state. But here that person didn't. Despite having passed the exam, he couldn't fix a very basic compile error and had to post to a forum. This suggests a serious flaw in the certification process. Or maybe people are just putting more value on the certs as a measure of knowledge than what they really show.
Mansukhdeep Thind
Ranch Hand

Joined: Jul 27, 2010
Posts: 1157

Or maybe people are just putting more value on the certs as a measure of knowledge than what they really show.


That is another BIG issue here in India Jeff. The system here is designed to reward not merit/intelligence/hard-work, but certifications and rote learning. People who can show that they have a certification on their CV get priority over people who actually have a good head. It is a pity really if you ask me personally. That is the very reason youngsters from my country in many other fields, including IT, flock to the Americas, Europe or Australia to work/do their PG. There you have systems in place which rewards the correct things. You learn the right things in the right way. In fact, to tell you the truth, I have a work experience of 5 + years in Indian IT industry. But what do I actually know in Java. Very little. Just the tip of the ice berg. And that too due to this forum where I can freely ask the most stupid of questions and get my concepts crystal clear. I can only hope that the Indian IT industry / education system / employment system becomes mature in the coming years to aim for the long run and does not become rote.

Jeff Verdegan
Bartender

Joined: Jan 03, 2004
Posts: 6109
    
    6

Mansukhdeep Thind wrote:That is the very reason youngsters from my country in many other fields, including IT, flock to the Americas, Europe or Australia to work/do their PG. There you have systems in place which rewards the correct things. You learn the right things in the right way.


I agree that overemphasis on certifications is bad--especially if those certs can be obtained simply by cramming for an exam but without any actual practical knowledge or real understanding of the topic--the hiring situation here in the U.S. is far from perfect.

A big problem that I see here is unqualified recruiters and a system that supports them. It works something like this:

Somebody who really doesn't know anything about the technologies for which he's placing people will go to Monster or Dice (public websites that anybody can use, not a special recruiter network) and troll for buzzwords. If your resume's buzzwords match the buzzwords of the client who's hiring, the recruiter will email you or call you about the position, telling you what a great fit he thinks you are, even though he knows nothing about you but what he saw on your resume, and even if that resume has nothing more than a few buzzword matches to suggest that you'd be even remotely qualified for or interested in that job.

In the end the candidate gets tossed a handful of opportunities that may or may not be what he's interested in or qualified for, and the hiring manager gets a hundred resumes that he could have found himself, where maybe 20 of them are actually relevant to what he's looking for, and, had the recruiter done a decent job of filtering only a few of that 20 wold have even been considered a potential good fit worth passing on to the hiring manager.
Jayesh A Lalwani
Bartender

Joined: Jan 17, 2008
Posts: 2383
    
  28

The problem basically boils down to that the people who have designed the certifications are assuming that the core audience has gone through a US education system. ANd there is a big cultural differrence between US and India in how students learn. The US education system stresses a lot on problem solving. It starts at a very early age, almost at elementary school. Also, the higher level college courses are designed to have "weeder" classes. Basically, these classes are designed so that people, who do not have the problem solving capacity, will get so frustrated that they will drop out of the course and do something else instead. The focus is on problem solving, self learning and the ability to learn concepts

India, OTH, is all about rote learning. We have a term for it:-"mugging up". Since, early school students are taught to "mug up". Basically, the way most students approach any exam is that they cram as much information in their brains that they can, and on the day of the exam, they just dump everything into the answer paper. Ask most students, and they will tell you that the feeling that they have after the exam is almost similar to the feeling they have after taking a dump. You have all this crap in your head and you have literally expelled it out of your brain during the exam. Exam done.. crap is gone.. until the next exam.. time to consume more crap. The most common tool used by Indian students is called the "study guide", which is basically a compilation of each and every question ever asked in an exam. You memorize the entire study guide (or atleast 70% of it), and you are ready to pass the exam. Once in a while, the people who make the exam change the question set which makes the study guide obsolete, and a lot of students grumble.

Not saying this is what all Indian students do, but most of them do it. Obviously, in any population there will be certain number of people who will just get the concepts as soon as it is taught, and then there will be certain number of people who find it easier to learn by understanding the fundamentals first. However, rest of the 80% of students mug up, and their academic success is literally depend on how well they are at memorizing things, and/or what memorization tricks they have in their toolkit. And believe me, Indian students are very very smart at memorization. It's like an art form

Now, the Java certification exams are designed with an average US student in mind. The assumption is that the student will start learning by understanding the core concepts, and demonstrate that understanding by answering knowledge questions. The problem is that Indian students have a system that breaks this system. Over time, they have built the mental capacity and techniques to memorize all the questions that are ever asked in Java certification exams. This is why there is a such a demand for dumps. The dumps are used as a "study guide"

This is why statements like these are common :-
meeta gaur wrote:When you study for any exam, you study all details, which usually not much consider in daily work routine because of IDE(BTW I'm not working),and when you get pass exam it doesn't mean you will have always memorize those small small things without being in touch and practice with that technology.


Don't memorize.. That's the key. When you are taking an exam that certifies you as a programmer, study it to be a programmer. Believe me, the tests are designed so that if you have a good grasp of the concepts, the correct answer should be very very obvious. If you are going to memorize all the answers, you are hurting yourself

Yes, it would be much much better if Java certifications themselves should be more of a test of skill rather than a test of memory. However, the problem is that the multiple choice format is rather limiting. It would be awesome if the Java certification test was basically a bunch of programming problems. However, such a test would be very hard to scale up to thousands/tens of thousands of test takers.
Pat Farrell
Rancher

Joined: Aug 11, 2007
Posts: 4659
    
    5

Jayesh A Lalwani wrote: However, the problem is that the multiple choice format is rather limiting. It would be awesome if the Java certification test was basically a bunch of programming problems. However, such a test would be very hard to scale up to thousands/tens of thousands of test takers.


By definition, a multiple choice test is designed to be easy to grade mechanically. This makes it easy to automate and scale to lots of tests taken at once.

It also does very little to evaluate the person taking the tests knowledge.

In the US, the most widely used multiple choice test is the SAT, used for college applications. It makes no attempt to test knowledge.
It was first called the Scholastic Aptitude Test, then the Scholastic Assessment Test, but now SAT does not stand for anything, hence it is an empty acronym.

One of the reasons they kept changing the name was that it never really measured aptitude, and it never did a good job at assessment.

Writing a good exam is a ton of work. I'm sure that the authors of the various certification tests do not want to work that hard at either writing the test nor at grading it.

Before I read this thread, I have always thought that the focus on certifications by many folks just starting their careers was misdirected. With the contents upthread describing how its used in many huge Indian IT consulting shops, my bias has been reinforced. Certifications are a dumb way to hire talent.
Mansukhdeep Thind
Ranch Hand

Joined: Jul 27, 2010
Posts: 1157

Jeff Verdegan wrote: I agree that overemphasis on certifications is bad--especially if those certs can be obtained simply by cramming for an exam but without any actual practical knowledge or real understanding of the topic--the hiring situation here in the U.S. is far from perfect.


Is this a fact? This is how Indian IT recruiters function too. . Thank GOD for guys like Paul Wheaton and all those active on this constructive forum who do not subscribe to such a culture. Thank you for JavaRanch Paul. Learning never was so much fun. If only the system could be overhauled to reward merit based on creative ideas and intelligence rather than rote learning like Jayesh correctly said.

If I have to give an analogy in sports, I could perhaps safely say that a person who does not know how to swim takes part in a Triathlon in India and not only completes it, but many a times ends up winning it. While a person who is good at all the 3 things, is refused to register for the event because he does not possess good swimming costume or a good road bike. I will not bring up my children like this. That much is for sure. Nice to meet people who think like me. More importantly, nice to meet people who think right.

Before I read this thread, I have always thought that the focus on certifications by many folks just starting their careers was misdirected. With the contents upthread describing how its used in many huge Indian IT consulting shops, my bias has been reinforced. Certifications are a dumb way to hire talent.


Pat, you too work in the States is it? Are you a recruiter yourself?
Henry Wong
author
Sheriff

Joined: Sep 28, 2004
Posts: 18876
    
  40


I am going to add the Job Discussion forum to this topic -- as there discussions aspects of resumes and getting a job. The part about the education system does warrant staying in "meaningless drivel" (which is a bad name for this, as MD does host general discussions, as long as they don't get too contentious too).

Henry


Books: Java Threads, 3rd Edition, Jini in a Nutshell, and Java Gems (contributor)
Henry Wong
author
Sheriff

Joined: Sep 28, 2004
Posts: 18876
    
  40

Mansukhdeep Thind wrote:
The system here is designed to reward not merit/intelligence/hard-work, but certifications and rote learning. People who can show that they have a certification on their CV get priority over people who actually have a good head.


Arguably, there are components in every hiring practices that awards certs over reasoning ability. The first round culling by HR is a big example. Most firms get hundreds of applicants per job search. HR needs to narrow down the list, and do it fast. Given a lack of experience of junior developers, and the impracticability of interviewing everyone, HR has to rely on the education documents, which includes the certifications, to help cull down the list.

Now, having said that, there are lots of other rounds in the hiring process. The candidate still has to get by the technical rounds -- and not having the skills to back up that certification can be like taking a lamb to the slaughter.

meeta gaur wrote:
It could be better that you offer such advice to oracle such that they will design a syllabus so after passing exam candidate will never forget things and will have remember for life time


I think that you are missing the point. The complaint was about people with certifications, but seemly without the basic skills to back it up. Yes, it is a major problem that Oracle needs to fix, but you are in the mix too -- after all, if Oracle does fix the problem, doesn't that imply that you won't have a certification?

Henry
Pat Farrell
Rancher

Joined: Aug 11, 2007
Posts: 4659
    
    5

Mansukhdeep Thind wrote:Pat, you too work in the States is it? Are you a recruiter yourself?

Yes, I'm in the States, work in the suburbs of Washington DC.

I'm a software engineer, but part of my job has always been to interview new members of the team.
Mansukhdeep Thind
Ranch Hand

Joined: Jul 27, 2010
Posts: 1157

Nice to hear that at least 1 recruiter believes in recruiting the right resources.
Pat Farrell
Rancher

Joined: Aug 11, 2007
Posts: 4659
    
    5

Hiring the best people for your team is critical to success. Studies show that the best engineers are 100 times more productive than the average. And the average are often 100 times more productive than the worst -- folks who really should be in another career.
Anayonkar Shivalkar
Bartender

Joined: Dec 08, 2010
Posts: 1509
    
    5

Well, I honestly doubt how much this reply of mine would contribute towards original question. Also, I mean no offence to anyone.

I agree with Jayesh about 'mug-up' system in India, but I would strongly disagree with Mansukhdeep about the description of Indian IT industry. It is unfortunate if he (Mansukhdeep) has faced such bureaucracy, but its not the only side.

Yes, those papers (certification etc.) may give you a head-start, but in the long run, those 'muggers' don't go far away.
Few months back, when I went to attend my school reunion, I saw that lot of my classmates who 'high-scorers' are holding mediocre positions, and some 'mediocre' students (i.e. not scoring very high marks) are doing brilliantly. Most importantly, they are doing what they 'want' to do and they love it. The moment I learnt their names (most of them were my friends), I was not surprised. The 'having-brilliant-jobs' folks were those who always focussed on 'understanding' the stuff in their student days. They did not blindly mugged up (that might be the reason why they did not get very high scores). They won the triathlon.

Again, it doesn't mean that good marks mean nothing (I was called up for my first interview because of my good marks - there were better programmer than me who were not called up due to less marks).

Now, coming back to IT industry, these 'learners' (i.e. people who 'understand-the-stuff') generally do very good. In my experience, a good interviewer needs hardly 5 minutes to understand whether a candidate really knows good programming, or he is having 3 certifications just by mugging up the stuff.

My point is not against certifications, but if someone is getting those by mugging up, then its not gonna help much. Unfortunately, when we talk about worlds 2nd or 4th largest population, it is not practical to go ahead and interview each and every candidate. Thus, recruiters have to put some criteria for the sake of filtering.

The real problem starts when people start to think that study is over after they get a job, or after they clear a certification - basically, when people settle-down to comfort-zone. Even if you pass the certification, you have to apply that knowledge in real world. Otherwise it is inevitable that you'll forget what you've learnt.

I personally would prefer to understand things on my own, and if it is really necessary, I would not hesitate to collect those papers (even though, currently, I do it for my own learning). Good news is, if you understand the things clearly, those exams are not very hard to clear.

Again, as I've said before, no offence meant.


Regards,
Anayonkar Shivalkar (SCJP, SCWCD, OCMJD, OCEEJBD)
Rameshwar Soni
Ranch Hand

Joined: Feb 03, 2011
Posts: 247
+10000 for Jayesh A Lalwani's post----- its 100% true
Mansukhdeep Thind
Ranch Hand

Joined: Jul 27, 2010
Posts: 1157

Well, I honestly doubt how much this reply of mine would contribute towards original question. Also, I mean no offence to anyone.


We are all here to have a healthy and constructive discussion. Why would or should I take anything personally? I am not a sissy girl man. I am man enough to take a good criticism in good spirits.

It is unfortunate if he (Mansukhdeep) has faced such bureaucracy, but its not the only side.


Yes, I have indeed faced not some but a lot of bad bureaucracy. I have had a lot of disagreements and fights at office. You may say that I am a hot head when it comes to righteousness or may be I am a very principled person. That is because I don't quite like the idea of someone who doesn't know his stuff being allowed to hold a position of power and boss over me. But there is nothing unfortunate about it. It is pretty much by design. We have to accept that we as Indians lack professionalism. I never said this is the only side Anayonkar. There has to be another side always. My point is people who are not as good as they should be at stuff that they claim to be good at are sitting at positions which simply they do not deserve to be sitting in. They are passing judgments on people who are better than them. And all this is because partly the education/employment system in India is at fault and partly because of the "Great Indian art of making a mockery of any system" if you like it. I refer to the code dumps that Jayesh mentioned. Of course , not to mention the petty politics that people play.

Yes, those papers (certification etc.) may give you a head-start, but in the long run, those 'muggers' don't go far away.
Few months back, when I went to attend my school reunion, I saw that lot of my classmates who 'high-scorers' are holding mediocre positions, and some 'mediocre' students (i.e. not scoring very high marks) are doing brilliantly. Most importantly, they are doing what they 'want' to do and they love it. The moment I learnt their names (most of them were my friends), I was not surprised. The 'having-brilliant-jobs' folks were those who always focussed on 'understanding' the stuff in their student days. They did not blindly mugged up (that might be the reason why they did not get very high scores). They won the triathlon.


Nice to hear that there are good people reaching the top. You belong to Pune is it? Which school?

Now, coming back to IT industry, these 'learners' (i.e. people who 'understand-the-stuff') generally do very good. In my experience, a good interviewer needs hardly 5 minutes to understand whether a candidate really knows good programming, or he is having 3 certifications just by mugging up the stuff.


That is where the problem lies Anayonkar. I mentioned a great quality that we Indians possess above. That is how people clear an interview even fooling the best of test engines or interviewers. I do not want to take names here, but tell me one thing, do you honestly believe that if I don't know where in a Java class I can / cannot initialize a member variable, I should be allowed to hold a certification? Isn't that plain wrong? See this thread where I started this whole fuss about a flawed education/employment system.

You hold 3 certifications and if you took so much time justifying the other side , I am pretty sure that you must have diligently studied for your exams in the right spirit and not just for the sake of clearing the exam. You are one of the current leaders of the forum man. You don't just get that title like that now do you? Finding people like you is what the system should be designed for.
meeta gaur
Ranch Hand

Joined: Dec 05, 2012
Posts: 305

Mansukhdeep Thind wrote:

We are all here to have a healthy and constructive discussion. Why would or should I take anything personally? I am not a sissy girl man. I am man enough to take a good criticism in good spirits.

I do not want to take names here, but tell me one thing, do you honestly believe that if I don't know where in a Java class I can / cannot initialize a member variable, I should be allowed to hold a certification? Isn't that plain wrong? See this thread where I started this whole fuss about a flawed education/employment system.



First thing i want to tell you that i have zero work experience.Another thing if someone possess certification(althought i've oca not even ocjp) is it mean she/he is expert ? he/she is god of java ? she/he can't make any mistake ? don't judge ability of anyone because of any mistake, and don't criticize about it specially in forum, still you are doing again and again,whereas i know if you criticize people here you are a spammer in this forum.You don't understand you are demotivating them ? i am sure they will feel hesitated to post any doubt again.I'm preparing for my ocpjp certification exam, if you criticize about my ability and my old certification how much positive energy i will possess for my next exam ? you don't think it could be bad for me ? don't behave like kid you have 5+ experience i'm still toddler.

BTW Oracle will decide that i should possess my certificate or not.

and it could be very helpful if you do stop your healthy discussion here.
Mansukhdeep Thind
Ranch Hand

Joined: Jul 27, 2010
Posts: 1157

meeta gaur wrote:

First thing i want to tell you that i have zero work experience.Another thing if someone possess certification(althought i've oca not even ocjp) is it mean she/he is expert ? he/she is god of java ? she/he can't make any mistake ? don't judge ability of anyone because of any mistake, and don't criticize about it specially in forum, still you are doing again and again,whereas i know if you criticize people here you are a spammer in this forum.You don't understand you are demotivating them ? i am sure they will feel hesitated to post any doubt again.I'm preparing for my ocpjp certification exam, if you criticize about my ability and my old certification how much positive energy i will possess for my next exam ? you don't think it could be bad for me ? don't behave like kid you have 5+ experience i'm still toddler.

BTW Oracle will decide that i should possess my certificate or not.


I was just answering the points put up by Anayonkar. You are always welcome to ask any question you like. No question is stupid. No one is an expert here. Yes, some are better off than the others. Rest assured I shall help you in any manner I can. I am NOT criticizing you. Please understand. I am criticizing the certification designers at Oracle and India's education / employment system that rewards rote learning. Please go ahead and study hard for your certification. Don't get demotivated by my personal opinion. I or my opinion should mean nothing to you if you truly believe in yourself. Please do not hesitate to put a post again. Study well from the Kathy-Bert book and get good marks. If you need some help, I am here. This was just something that I had to put out there for open discussion since I thought it was needed.

Perhaps when you would have worked for 2-3 years and experienced life a bit, you would be in a better position to understand what I am trying to put through here.

Remember, I have nothing against Meeta Gaur. It's against a system that rewards rote learning. You are your own best judge, not me, not Oracle, not your boss. Don't ever let anyone tell you how good/bad you are at something. It is your own belief and actions that make you who you are. Make yourself mentally so strong that nothing in the world can shake your beliefs. ALWAYS REMEMBER THIS.

P.S--> Please do not hesitate to ask any stupid /silly question. Promise that Meeta?
 
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subject: value of certification + comparative hiring practices