Here’s What We Look for While Hiring Great Software Testing Pros
By: Rajiv Jain (CEO, ThinkSys)
“Great Vision without great people is irrelevant” – Jim Collins
Today the consumers of technology are everywhere…from the biggest enterprises to the youngster with a mobile phone. As we get increasingly conversant with technology, it becomes essential to develop good and robust software products, that are bug-free, error-free and fast. Today, no organization or individual has the time, patience or bandwidth to deal with slow performing, buggy apps that can pose a productivity or security threat. To enable organizations to deliver to the demands of speed and performance one thing climbing up the priority chart is testing. With the proliferation of test automation, many feel that the role of a tester is just that of a facilitator. This could not be further from the truth. Testers are the secret weapons that guarantee that the products that we develop perform to their optimal capacity.
Everyone looks for testing skills, experience, and certifications but there is something more that sets the great software testing pro apart. Here, in no particular order, are some of the things we look out for when hiring these super-testers:
- Prioritization Skills:
A software tester has to have the ability to bite off more than he can chew and yet be able to chew and swallow properly. Software testers have to deal with a lot of workloads such as designing strategy, writing test cases, creating reports etc. In most cases, they have to work against tight timelines. Hence, having great prioritization skills and good time management are the hallmark of a great tester – somehow their day seems to have just that many more hours. He/she needs to understand what needs to be tested and when, which task should rank lower on the priority list, which tasks should be automated and which should be manual and which tasks need to be addressed immediately.
- Attention to Detail:
Testing demands an eye for detail. It can be easy to miss a small bug but that small miss can compound into a bigger problem in a very short span of time. So while identifying glaring issues seems easy enough, a testing pro will be able to identify the not-so-obvious issues, the small stuff that can snowball into a big impact on the application at hand. Sherlock with an instinct for code is what we need.
- A Creative Mind:
Test professionals who can think beyond what the software is expected to do or what the users expect from the software are the ones who truly shine in this area. They should have a creative mind that allows them to think of new ideas to test a product and come up with ideas to use test cases in different scenarios. Coming up with new ideas to test a product ensures that the product performs optimally when it does get stressed.
Curiosity is a great trait in a tester. Only when a tester has a keen and curious mind will he/she try to think out of the box, look for problems in the unlikeliest of places and come up with intelligent solutions. A curious mind also gives the tester the ability to see the big picture and connect the dots to see how each action is impacting the project
- Ability to think from the user’s perspective:
A tester should be able to think like a user. In order to achieve end user satisfaction, testers have to think from the perspective of the user. They should be able to get into the user’s shoes and walks all around in them to identify how the users want to communicate and interact with the product. So great testers have the ability to understand their target audience and assess how their user base will be interacting with the application and then develop test cases and test plan to get complete coverage and get an application that performs optimally.
- Ability to ask questions:
A tester-extraordinaire has to learn to ask questions…a lot of questions…even questions that might seem irrelevant to another without feeling awkward or uncomfortable. By learning to ask the right set of questions, a tester can understand the requirement, understand the changes that need to be incorporated and implement them, understand the bigger picture and define the scope of testing.
- Data analysis skills:
Great testers don’t only write test cases but also have the ability read and analyze test data generated from a particular application. If they have identified a ‘non-reproducible bug’ then they should have the capability to analyze the test environment, the test data, the interruptions in code etc. to assess where the bug generated and fix it accordingly. They also need to analyze data generated from testing script execution during test automation to find loopholes and performance gaps and identify ways to increase testing productivity.
- Reporting skills:
Testing demands a lot of reporting. Hence having good reporting skills, possessing the ability to report negative things in a positive way, write status reports for clients and especially say a lot, but in a succinct, crisp manner etc. should come naturally to a tester.
- Thirst for knowledge:
To be a good, well anything, and especially a good software tester, one has to possess a thirst for knowledge. Knowledge, for a tester, does not end with mastering one scripting language but continues as they have to stay in step with the latest technological developments and automation tools to keep coming up with new ideas to test better.
- Be a great negotiator:
Negotiating well should come naturally to a tester as they have to negotiate with different people at different stages of a project. They have to have the skills to convince developers (who usually are quite possessive about the code they develop) that there is a defect in the code, explain its impact and get the defect resolved.
Another thing that a tester has to have in abundance is ‘perseverance’. Only when a tester is patient enough to explore the software constantly to find bugs and make new improvements and take all the testing challenges and complexities in the positive spirit can he/she become a great tester. At the end of the day, we go by the motto, “When we move our focus from completion to contribution, life becomes a celebration”. Our best testers feel the same way!