What Scares Testers Most? – The Tester’s Horror Stories (Halloween Special)

Halloween is right around the corner!

It is the time to revel in awful, creepy and gory stuff – STH brings you horror stories that are going to shake even the most seasoned testers out there. Are you ready? Let’s see what scares testers the most!

What scares testers most?


Take your pick- 

  • Buggy software?
  • Inferior Test Environments?
  • Missed deadlines?
  • Feeling underappreciated?
  • Breaking bad news?
  • Catching up with newer technologies?
  • Onsite – Offshore model?
  • Accidentally turned ON/OFF or deleting something?
  • Low status in the industry?

Even though all these are pretty bad, they are quite common. There are time-tested tactics to deal with them and overcome them.

If this still bothers you and if you are still looking for a fix please check out:

This article though is about the worst personal events that have happened in my QA career so, we all can indulge in the ugly side of the IT QA and maybe, learn from my mistakes.

Welcome to the haunted hay ride!  And the stops are:

#1) Carrying forward a legacy

In one of my early projects, I had to replace an on-site coordinator who was out on maternity leave. I was a brand-new tester then and still learning to test. Are you wondering, “Then, how come you got to be the onsite coordinator?” Well, it was a client facing role and they found my communication skills impressive.

I knew I wasn’t qualified for the role, but I really wanted to visit the United States of America.

So, there I was, still trying to figure out how to be a tester, while I was the acting Test lead. If it were Mathematics, I would apply A+B formulae and succeed. But QA needs skills, common sense, judgement, leadership, tool expertise as well as a lot more qualities to succeed.

Every time I went into a meeting, my well-meaning team members and cross-functional teams kept advising me on how my ex-manager (the one I was replacing) used to work and what she would do in similar situations.

She was and still is one of the best QA’s and Managers I know. Trying to take her place and do a good job was terrifying enough to make me run away.

It was my first and scariest encounter to the horrors of the QA world.

Recommended read => Onsite – Offshore Model of Software Testing Projects (and How to Make It Work for You)

2) Not understanding Accountability

We were a team of 4 QA’s in a UAT project. Our job was to assist users in the acceptance testing and sometimes perform some tests ourselves. We had a rushed UAT session with 2 days of time and we were working really fast to get things done.

My strongest point has always been being quick with documenting and writing. So, as a team, we decided that we would test and I would report all the defects into the defect tracking system (from all 4 of my team members) at the end of the day, so there would be uniformity in wording and it would save us time. Some of the modules that the other testers were working on were not familiar to me. I was simply writing what they were telling me.

I did not really think about the fact that all the defects being reported were under my name. When the bug acceptance rate was calculated (it was pretty low, 30% or so), everything pointed to me.

On the morning of the day after the entire testing was done, I went into work as usual. I had a meeting with my manager first thing in the morning and I was asked why I reported so many invalid bugs because the issue was escalated to the client already and they had to give an answer.

Imagine my shock, mostly at myself for not thinking things through!

3) Client – Vendor Politics

This is not exactly a QA specific situation, but a significantly uncomfortable and sickening story.

My employer (I was a consultant) had me working at a client location for a very important, picky and difficult client.

I found the client’s workplace very oppressive and I expressed a desire to move out of that project. But, my employer did not agree to it and said they needed me to build a good customer relationship. I tried my best to stay, but it was making me very unhappy. So, I found another job and submitted my resignation. There was a 2 month notice period to serve and during this time my employer did not want me to tell the client manager that I was leaving.

Over time, the client manager started giving me more responsibilities and I knew I would let him down when I left. Despite me sharing this concern multiple times with my employer, they did not want me to say anything to the client manager until they found a replacement or some other miraculous, harmless option.

It was not until a week before my relieving did my client manager find out. He never said anything to me directly but I could sense his disappointment.

Being a pawn in these politics is like being stuck in the basement with a serial killer. There is simply no rational way out.

Terrible and horrific!

Horror stories are pretty bleak. They rarely have happy endings. But our stories don’t have to be that way.

Certification saved me from my QA ignorance and made me a much better tester. On-the-job practice and support from team members made me a very successful interim team lead.

Later, when my manager came back from leave, she created an onsite role for me and we worked together on many projects. It was one of the best learning and inspiring times of my career.

The bug reporting incident taught me how your name is against a task/issue/to-do item matter. If you have your name on it, you have to be responsible and will be held accountable. The misunderstanding was cleared when I gave my explanation, but it jolted me to my senses.

The resignation incident reinforced my decision to leave both my employer and the client. What is truly the scary part is what would have happened had I stayed there? In retrospect, I did escape the serial killer.

Finally, whether it is a Trick or a Treat, it’s all good.

About the author: This post was written by STH team member Swati S.

Happy Halloween, everyone!

What are some of the horror stories that send a chill down your spine? We would love to hear about them. Feel free to post your experiences in the comments section below.

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11 thoughts on “What Scares Testers Most? – The Tester’s Horror Stories (Halloween Special)”

  1. Nice and interesting read.
    Your experience is valuable lessons to us.

  2. Thank you for sharing your stories.

  3. C’mon Swati,
    It couldnt have been that bad!
    Its probably at that time and experience, probably tried to bite off more than you could handle.
    Perhaps now it would have been easier and its more of a mental blocK 🙂

    • @g: you are right. It wasn’t that bad. But I do love to dramatize the bad part so the ending sounds extra happy. Just kidding…
      Happy Halloween!

  4. Very nice article Swati..can relate to most of the things.?

  5. Horror Story :- “Test planning is complete and you realise the feature is not implemented the way you wrote cases”

    So its better to cordinate with BA and Dev to have an early feedback and everyone is on the same page

  6. This is a very good article. Thank you for sharing your experiences with us which are like learning lessons for people like me.

  7. superb block …
    very true.

  8. @all: happy Halloween everyone! Thank you for stopping by

  9. Thank you for your experience! And great writing skills

  10. Thank you for sharing your horror stories Swati! I really appreciate how you didn’t let these experiences define you and kept moving forward. All problems can be overcome if you treat them as lessons.

    I have, almost accidentally, found myself in a QA role and really like it. I am currently studying for the CSTE certification and have found the information on this site very helpful. Especially your articles and the training you provide. Keep up the good work!


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