Posted by tac_admin, February 6, 2013

What Makes a Great Software Tester

softwaretestingThe difference between a good software tester and a great software tester boils down to one trait: attention to detail. Over the course of my 20 years as a Quality and Business Analyst, I was surprised by how few candidates actually met this one simple criterion.

Once, I wrote a short set of requirements for a screen for a web-based application as a test for potential hires. I gave the job candidates this set of requirements and told them to come up with a list of test scripts that would need to be run. My list counted 13 scripts. Most interview candidates had somewhere between 8-10 scripts. I thought that was acceptable considering they were only given 10 minutes to make the list and they were also probably nervous about the interview process.

The team member I hired, however, continued to overlook important steps and rush through her work as a Software Tester. It seems I should have trusted my interview test, as she did not have that attention to detail I was so desperately seeking.

Wondering how your skills measure up? Take a look at the tasks a great Software Tester can perform seamlessly, thanks to their thorough attention to detail:

Writing test scripts.

  • If you’re creating new scripts for functionality already in your test environment, you can go into the application and actually do the process and write the script as you’re running through the process.
  • Be sure you’re clear on what the expected result should be for each step in case you encounter a bug while writing the script; you don’t want to write an expected result that isn’t correct just because there’s a bug in the code.
  • As a rule, every mouse click or every time you have to enter data should be a new step. You should never combine things to cut down on steps because one part may pass and the other fail, and then you’re failing everything instead of being able to clearly point out where the script failed.
  • Each step should also have an expected result—what you think the application should do next or how the screen should look based on what you did in that step.

Performing tests.

In order to be effective, testers must do the following:

  • Be organized with your set of test scripts.
  • Make it a priority to keep test scripts updated.
  • Continue to add new scripts as you find things that can cause defects that you didn’t previously know about.
  • Take your time when testing and be extremely thorough.

Communicating with the development team.

  • Communicating via email, in person, instant messaging, or any other form acceptable by the company needs to include details about the issue, be factual, and should not include references to “you” and “I”. Take the personal out of the equation.
  • It’s helpful if the tester has the attitude that the developer probably is unaware of the defects.

Giving accurate testing estimates.

  • You may be asked to estimate how many test scripts will need to be written and how many testers it will take to write tem for a given amount of time.
  • You may also be asked to estimate the number of testers needed in order to complete testing in a specified time frame and how many scripts can be completed per day, per tester.
  • In your estimate, always allow for rework time.

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