A software tester may seem like a pretty straightforward role to pin down: someone who is able to review requirements, understand how a system works, and then identify and communicate issues but as with most things, there is more to it than what meets the eye. A successful software tester usually possesses certain characteristics that provide them with the right mix of technical knowledge, personality traits, and a little something extra that makes them the type of person always looking to find and solve problems on a daily basis.
After almost 25 years in the software testing business, we know a thing or two about what makes a great tester, and today we’re sharing that secret with you! Before we get into the detailed recipe of an award-winning software tester, a quick note on the importance of diversity in testing.
Every one of your users will have different experiences depending on factors like gender identity, ability, race, history, and the list goes on. While there are many commonalities between great testers, it’s important that teams are as diverse as possible to ensure that everyone’s experiences are represented when on the hunt for bugs.
And now, on to our recipe!
- Test, test, test: The best way to become a better tester is to get as much experience as possible in testing. The more diverse the experience, the more prepared you will be to adapt to solve any testing challenges. You can diversify your experience by working in various:
- industry verticals
- organizations and teams
- stages of testing, from developing ideas, test strategies, and test cases, to reporting and communicating results
- Strengthen your technical skills: Improving your arsenal of technical skills allows you to increase the complexity and depth of testing you can do. Learn to work with databases, beyond simple SQL queries, dig into and learn API testing, and understand the basics and benefits of CI/CD pipelines.
- Be an advocate: As a tester, you need to be able to play the part of the end-user and advocate for quality from the users’ perspective. Hone your perspective-taking, understanding of software, and persuasive skills to convince a developer that something they don’t think is a bug is, in fact, a bug.
- Experiment, and embrace failure: Testing is experimentation. It’s all about trying different things, observing the results, and analyzing those results to draw conclusions. Seek out opportunities to try new things, be part of projects that succeed easily, and equally as important, be part of those that fail, which is often where you will learn the most.
Once the basics are in place, there are lots of mix-ins that can take a good tester to a great one. These are the extras that will allow someone to take those original ingredients that made them right for testing in the first place and help them develop a more extensive testing toolbox:
- Automation to maximize quality and streamline delivery
- Performance testing to determine stability, speed, scalability, and responsiveness
- Security testing to protect data and maintain functionality
- Accessibility testing to ensure usability for everyone
So you’ve put together all the ingredients and mix-ins to create a great tester, but what comes next? Once you’ve got a good handle on things, you can give back and build up your local testing community, whether that’s mentoring, providing training, or introducing new concepts to others in the space.
The recipe for what makes a great software tester will evolve as you move through your career, but as with any of the greats, the basics are always the best foundation. A combination of curiosity, creativity, and problem-solver will always set you up for success.
What do you think? Have we captured the right recipe for a great software tester? Think we are missing an ingredient or two? Let us know by reaching out on social media! And if you’re looking for a team made from all the right ingredients to help you solve your testing issues? We can help with that.