The ability to develop innovative ideas is another way to differentiate between executors and engineers. This doesn't have to be anything major, and it doesn't even have to be specific to testing. All it has to be is something that provides a glimmer of hope that the individual may be able to engineer solutions. In an interview, I like to ask, "Can you tell me about an accomplishment that you're proud of that required you to be creative?" His answer tells more about him than other conventional questions about testing theory. This allows the true test engineer to shine, particularly if he doesn't have a lot of testing experience. A good response describes a situation in which he noticed the existence of a tedious process and took the initiative to create something that made the process more efficient. A test executor will almost always sink on this type of question.
Finally, if you already have a testing professional who consistently comes up with excuses instead of solutions, then he may be a test executor.
Exposing the testing dichotomy in this column is not meant to suggest that there is only room for one of the two groups. There is room for both test engineers and test executors in software development projects, but the two can no longer be thought of synonymously. For the health of IT organizations and the growth of the testing profession, it must be made clear that test engineers offer a level of expertise that can never be expected from test executors.