AMA: What sets exceptional QA testers apart?

Dayana asks…

I wondered if you could tell me what sets exceptional QA testers apart? Not just personality or work ethic traits, but specific skills and programming knowledge that will be very valuable to a team?

My response…

I think exceptional QA testers, as explained recently, aren’t people who are exceptional at just one thing, eg. testing, but good at lots of things.

So an exceptional QA tester, in my opinion, will typically have (at least good) skills in the following things:

  1. Skills in human exploratory testing: an exceptional QA tester has the ability to effectively find the most important bugs fast. Whilst this skill can be developed, I have found it’s mostly a mindset.
  2. Skills in developing automated tests: an exceptional QA tester will have programming skills needed to develop automated tests and I would recommend these to typically match the programming language(s) that programmers in your organization use. For example, skills in automated testing in .NET if your company primarily uses Microsoft .NET. Although, someone with strong programming skills in one language (eg. ruby) should be able to transfer these skills to another language (eg. python).
  3. Knowledge/Experience in your business domain: an exceptional QA tester will fully understand your business domain and keep this context in mind whilst testing a product and raising issues. An exceptional tester is always testing your system – just as I am testing WordPress.com publishing this post.
  4. An empathetic mindset: we design and develop software for real people and real life. An exceptional QA tester will test with this in mind.

WatirMelon AMA: Ask Me Anything

WatirMelon AMAThere comes a time in one’s blogging life when one decides to conduct an ‘Ask Me Anything’ (AMA). That time is now. Feel free to submit the contact form below with your question(s) and I’ll collate these over the next week or so and (try to) answer as many as I can, either in group form for short questions or as individual posts for more meaty ones.

Feel free to ask me anything, whether it be an automated test strategy or approach question, or what it’s like to live in Australia and work remotely for one of the world’s largest blogging/content platforms.

Your name, email and website are all optional, if you choose to provide your name and/website I will put this against the original question when answering it (I won’t include your email). Any toxic or inappropriate questions will be politely ignored.