What does it take to be a software tester? What skills and talents do you need to possess? There are, of course, the knowledge of Quality Assurance (QA) methodologies, and best practices around manual and automated software testing that need to be mastered. But just as importantly for the software tester are innate traits that include a nimble (creative) mind, curiosity, imagination, technical abilities, and good communication skills.

Over the next several weeks we’ll be diving into what it takes to be a good software tester, covering the following topics:

  • The innate skills of mental acuity, keen observation, curiosity, imagination, creativity and honesty
  • The ability to develop test plans and clearly identify and document bugs – and then communicate them effectively 
  • Familiarity with the project life cycle, programming languages and databases
  • Skills in manual and automated QA testing
  • Knowledge of emerging technologies

So, what are these “innate skills” that have become must-have to becoming an effective software tester?

Sharp and Alert 

The great QA tester has a sharp, keen and acute mind.  They are quick to notice and perceive situations and paths that could cause issues.  Staying focused, alert, and attentive are key to generate optimal test results.  

Curious and Eager to Learn

Curiosity is defined as having an “eagerness to learn or being inquisitive.”  Additionally (and also ironically), the archaic definition of curiosity is is “done with painstaking accuracy or attention to detail.”  Curiosity drives learning – and testing! And when a QA tester learns all there is to know about the product you’re testing, positive results follow. 

Imaginative 

In his recent article, Tester, Embrace Your Inner Child – Today, Navot Dako, Head of Quality Assurance at Experitest, discusses the importance of imagination when it comes to testing mobile apps:

Testers – you need to tap into that imagination and be able to plug into your user’s head and experience. You don’t want those bugs coming to surface when the device is already in the user’s hands – you want to think like your user and imagine all sorts of possible situations that the app will be required to face in the “real world”. Thinking like the user will allow you to discover valuable bugs that you may otherwise never discover… I suggest that we bend down, look eye-to-eye with the children in our world and become better testers, friends and people by connecting through them to our inner-child.

Creative 

Thinking outside the box is both a popular and cliche saying… but that doesn’t mean it’s wrong.  Creative software testing gets to the bottom of an issue and pinpoints its origin. Being creative allows the software tester uncover multiple testing possibilities and paths that users may take to uncover all possibilities. Creative software testers will automate repetitive tasks in order to speed up test results so they can focus on additional test scenarios. 

Open and Honest

All industries have their good and their bad – those who over promise and underperform, as well as the reputable and thoroughly professional software testers. Honesty is never the wrong policy.  The software tester(s) you hire should be able to provide proof of their integrity through well-documented, proven test results, satisfied client reviews, memberships in well-known QA organizations, and industry-standard certifications.

Watch for the next article in this series about the skills you need to be a software tester – Communication Skills.

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