I’m delighted to say that we’re in the process of hiring! (Aside: and I’m also delighted to be on the interview panel again.) We’ve recently had a member of our team move within the company, still being an advocate for testing but with a stronger focus on development. I found myself spending some time thinking about what I’m looking for and value in a good tester. I wanted something simple yet deep, to represent the traits that feel important to me.
It seemed natural to try to condense the list into just three, which proved challenging but rewarding.
Aptitude for technology
A crucial skill, yet listed here in a deliberately vague way. We’ve had testers come to work here who hadn’t tested before, didn’t know the product, hadn’t coded in the same languages we use in the team nor used the technologies upon which we heavily rely, who have excelled. So long as that innate aptitude surrounding technology in general is there, I think it can more often than not be a gateway into learning new technologies, whether those are languages, products or techniques. If you “get” technology, that affinity not only gives you a way to do your job, but somehow get under the skin of the product you’re testing and to really start to see how it’s working, and importantly how it might misbehave.
This covers any sort of communication method (written, oral, body language, etc.), any sort of situation (meeting, report, bug, presentation, etc.) and direction, too. By direction, I mean that while it’s important you can communicate as the one producing the information as well as being able to listen, it’s also important to be able to look at communication elsewhere. Some examples might be how two teams are working together on a problem, or how information is flowing from stakeholders through managers to team members. We as testers are often in the fortunate position of being in the middle between developers, sales, customers, support and many other departments, and – while not necessarily in our job descriptions – we can make a difference as to how those groups communicate, what’s being said and what’s being left out.
Desire to make things better
I’m looking for someone who cares to want to make a difference and improve whatever it may be – our flagship product, documentation, process, team collaboration or communication, etc. You can be the most naturally talented identifier of potential issues, have wonderfully detailed bug reports and so on, but that spark of wanting things to be better and being willing to strive to make them so, goes such a long way. Over the last 14 plus years, I’ve worked with people who have been so passionate (even about the tiniest of cosmetic details “because it would just be better if we changed this one little bit”) and it’s not only good for the business when used throughout their testing roles, but I find it inspiring working with them.
I’d be interested to know what you think in the comments section – perhaps you’ve got a list of tester traits you’ve got in mind when thinking about what makes a good tester?