Every profession demands certain qualities from its practitioners before accepting them in and making them the best at what they do.
Software Testing demands the qualities I discuss in this article even more strongly and there are many reasons for it.
And when I say qualities, I am talking about the ‘must have’s- the top abilities of testers that help them fly high and far. Dedication, hard work, etc. are a necessity to any job in the world. But the qualities we are going to discuss are absolutely inevitable for testers. Without these must have ones, testers will sooner or later risk being disengaged from their craft.
7 Qualities of Highly Effective Testers
Here we go:
This has to be first on the list. As a tester, you have to question anything and everything that is unclear. Always wonder, “What will happen if I click on ‘Submit’ button twice? Or thrice? Or what will happen if I click on ‘Submit’ button and then hit ‘Escape’ key? What will happen if I post a comment with just a white space?”
If you are a seasoned tester I am sure you have experienced this thought process before and if you haven’t, I highly recommend that you do. If you don’t ask the questions, your customers will. If you don’t bring all scenarios to test, your customers will.
Bottom line: Never Assume. Stay Curious. Always Ask. Always Seek.
Further reading => How the Testers Can Ask Questions The Smart Way
#2) Attention to Detail:
This quality is really important but honestly, I am not sure how to develop it artificially. I strongly believe that it has to be in your DNA and we can only try to enhance it to perfection.
The eye for detail is an innate quality that aids you catch/notice even the minutest of the details quickly. But even those who are not born with a magnifying glass for an eye can develop the habit if you persistently try to look deeper and longer.
Satisfied with the test result? – Try again and make it a habit. It may not be born from within but it can be nurtured and developed through practice to an acceptable degree.
Bottom Line: See everything. Done? See again.
Imagination is above all else because of its endless length, breadth, and height. Don’t restrict your thinking when testing. You have to imagine the unimaginable- the rare and the rarest. Imagine right now and 100 years from now.
Ask questions, 1000s of them. What if? What else? What more and so on. Design your test cases around requirements and add a good dose of imagination and inquisition to it. Brainstorm for unconventional ideas on how a feature should work and test/find or retest defects/review the system. Imagine and implement.
Bottom Line: Logic will get you from A to Z; Imagination will get you Everywhere. – Einstein
#4) Logical Thinking:
If you think testing is merely converting sentences from requirements document to test cases, then you are mistaken by a massive margin.
All phases like Requirements discussion, brainstorming features, deciding test strategy, building tests, debugging an issue, replicating production issues can benefit from logical thinking. You have to think through the possibilities, reason your steps, validate or invalidate and think about next steps. And, that’s not even the end.
Testing involves lots and lots of questions to be asked and answered. How will you ask a perfect question without thinking the problem/situation at hand logically?
How will you answer someone’s question before getting to a logical conclusion yourselves? Logical thinking ability is mandatory. And how do you build it? Whether it is an incoming question or outgoing one, always ask it to your inner self first before shooting it to someone else and try answering it till you are satisfied.
Bottom Line: Ask it. Answer it. Re-validate it. Improve it.
Further reading => How to think out of the box while testing
#5) Ability to Focus and Dissect:
In simple words, this is the ability to focus on small things and making your mind work on the smallest of details without getting distracted by the bigger picture.
As a tester, you should try not to let the big picture overwhelm and sidetrack you. You should try to decouple it and consider every unit in singularity. You should then be able to think and test everything around that small unit.
No, I am not talking about testing individual modules here; I am talking at an even granular level- one field at a time from an entire web form or one parameter from the entire set and testing it fully. Once you are done then you should be able to expand your vision towards the bigger picture, one step at a time.
Think of yourself as a Detective investigating an intricate case. Don’t leave any clue unexplored and remember everything leads you to the culprit.
Bottom Line: Zoom In. Focus. Dissect. Done? Repeat, Zoom out.
You are a tester. At your job, either you are holding a release gate or your opinion about the test object’s quality that will decide if the gate should be opened or not. You have the responsibility of highlighting the current and future risks. Therefore, by no means, you can afford to miss anything- not the important tests/activities/communication.
There could be a few moments of human error but when you can, try to catch them all- Defects, scenarios, situations, risks, etc. Discipline helps you a lot in this. You have to structure your own processes and check lists while you work. You can’t be casual with the product’s quality as a tester because there is no one after you to guard the fort.
Disciplined teams are far likelier to score more on every front; because they are less likely to miss obvious bugs, obvious communication or important process steps. Disciplined testers will most of the times have their own plan for any task and not go totally ad hoc and impromptu.
Bottom Line: Discipline is doing what needs to be DONE, even if you don’t want to DO IT.
#7) Constructive Communication:
You might call this a skill rather than calling it a quality. But I find that it is more of a personality trait because language and conversation proficiency is definitely a skill.
Good communication should start with good listening, forming a response, rehearsing it in mind, deciding the tone and then actually saying it.
For some, this is an inbuilt quality and others have to work towards it. But why is this very important for testers? Our job is highlighting the negatives, faults and areas for improvement.
Honestly, no one feels good when their work, idea or approach is criticized. And that is where our constructive communication comes to the rescue. You can get the point across clearly without attacking anyone accidentally.
Bottom Line: Listen. Think. Rehearse. Deliver.
Further reading => How to Become an Excellent Communicator as a Tester
These are the 7 qualities that make you an effective tester.
I have not stated the obvious here and talked about qualities such as love for your work, dedication, sincerity, passion for learning, good work ethic, etc. because these are a given and can help anyone in any job.
So whether you are already a software tester or a fresh graduate considering testing as a career I hope this list helps you evaluate yourself and decide if this field is a good fit for you.
About the author: This article is written by STH team member Mahesh C. He is currently working as Senior Quality Assurance Manager having experience of leading testing front for multiple complex products and components.
Hope my inputs help you in some way. Thanks a lot for reading. Feel free to share your views/feedback.