Hire the Right Person: 5 Traits to Look for in a Software Tester

Sep 2, 2020 | Best Practices

A line of people seen through a magnifying glass

One of the biggest challenges for companies to release products faster is the lack of skilled people to do the necessary work. Acquiring skilled software testers in particular is time-consuming and expensive. Not a lot of small and mid-size organizations have the budget to employ many testers, so they have to ensure every hire brings maximum value to the organization.

To find your ideal fit, here are five qualities to pay attention to when hiring software testers.

1. Curiosity

This is one of the most important traits of a software tester. Being curious is in a tester’s DNA. They should question the product like an end-user, think about different edge cases that other people may not think of, and have the mindset to learn anything that would help them become better at their craft. All this starts from having the curiosity to learn, practice and explore the application.

Here are some ways you can identify if a tester is curious:

  • Ask them a question and see if they ask clarifying questions to understand the context of what you are asking
  • Give them a problem to solve and ask them to take you through their thought process
  • Tell them about a new product in your company and see if they ask follow-up questions to know more
  • Ask them about a time when there were many unknowns in a project or an application and have them explain how they went about handling the situation

2. Experience and skill set

In this day and age, experience trumps qualification. If one tester has a master’s in computer science from a reputed school with no experience, and another has 10 years of experience but no degree, I would pick the second person.

Take time to scan through the tester’s profile and identify different companies, projects and applications the person has worked on. Try to understand how those experiences are beneficial to your current project needs. Yes, you learn a lot of great things in school, but the corporate environment is a different beast.

Also, you need to look at the tester’s skill sets. For example, if a job requires extensive programming in Python, then the tester should definitely have skills in programming and preferably some in the Python language. Similarly, if you are looking for someone to do API testing, it helps to have a tester who has used tools like Postman, SoapUI and other API tools.

However, if a tester has an aptitude for learning and a proven record of contributing to teams, then some skill sets can be acquired during the job. Lack of prior experience with a specific language or tool should not necessarily be a deal-breaker.

3. Interest in growing

It is important to figure out if a tester has a growth mindset. Apart from things learned at work, the tester should show interest in acquiring different skill sets by attending conferences, taking courses, and contributing to the testing community in some shape or form. This is what makes them contribute more effectively and broaden the team’s horizons.

As Steve Jobs once said, “It doesn’t make sense to hire smart people and tell them what to do; we hire smart people so they can tell us what to do.”

4. A team player

You can be smart and have various accomplishments on your resume, but if you are not ready to work with a team, nothing matters. You succeed or fail as a team; one individual contribution alone does not make a product successful.

  • During the hiring process, ask for examples of when the tester has collaborated with different teams. Some questions you could ask are:
  • When have you had to collaborate with different teams to fix a problem?
  • Do you like to work alone, or in groups? Why?
  • What does your ideal workday look like?
  • How do you react when your task is delayed by another person finishing a dependent task?

5. Communication

A considerable portion of a tester’s day is communicating product information to various stakeholders. Testers are essentially information brokers, helping teams make educated decisions on the product before it is released to the customer. The information could be related to bugs, feature requests, red flags, test data, testability challenges, test coverage or any ideas to make the product better.

Before you hire a tester, pay attention to the way they communicate — not just their words, but also the tone of voice and body language — and ask questions to gain more insight into their communication style when working within a team.

All these traits help build ideal software testers who can effectively contribute to the company’s team and growth.

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