The top 4 soft skills every software tester should have
The top 4 soft skills every software tester should have
For software testers, it seems like there are always new trends and technologies to keep up with to ensure that software releases are happening on time. In fact, testers are asking constantly in forums such as Reddit, Slack, and Ministry of Testing’s The Club about new skills that will help them grow in their careers.
But not all of these skills are technical. As software testing increasingly requires a healthy mix of technical and business savvy, testers and QA professionals need to ensure they are just as up-to-date on “soft” skills when doing test automation, for web applications or otherwise. Over time, finding that bug that will cost the company millions of dollars is just as important as communicating well with the development team so that similar bugs don’t appear in the future.
This blog post will discuss some of the most important soft skills that testers require today in order to grow and succeed in the industry.
1. Asking the right questions
In software testing, critical thinking is more important than ever. Much of software testing is context-driven, especially when understanding how bugs might affect different features or capabilities of a product. Therefore, learning how to ask the right questions is a very important soft skill for testers to hone throughout their careers.
One great way to improve this skill is by participating in code reviews. Even if you or your team do not have the relevant coding skills, reading code is simpler to learn and will open the door to the development team’s logic when writing code. This not only has the shift-left benefit of getting testers involved earlier in the software development lifecycle (SDLC), but it also compels testers to adapt future scenarios in response to what they learned from these reviews. From both a technical and a business perspective, asking critical questions to get to the root cause of issues is essential.
Another important element of asking the right questions is knowing when to prioritize them. As companies are continuously focusing on shortening their release cycles, testers are always racing against the clock to test as widely and as in-depth as possible before releasing to production. To know when to delve into more granular components of an issue and when to keep questions open-ended is also necessary. This will help test automation go more smoothly and help testers better develop a strategy that will expand their test automation efforts over time.
2. Making friends and influencing people
Yes, this is a play on words of the famous book, but this is also an important soft skill that testers should not overlook. Oftentimes, QA testers find themselves in a position where they need to make different business cases without actually having the relevant decision-making authority. Having the right negotiation skills and knowing how to align the QA team’s needs with the larger needs of the company will go a long way. Not only will this have a larger positive effect on the company, but it will also ensure that your team has the resources they need to do its job well.
There are many areas where QA will need to tap into this ability to influence without authority, from hiring personnel to convincing management to add automation testing to their manual testing operations. As already mentioned, the best way to approach situations like this is by focusing on the larger business goals that your request can help the company achieve. Whether this is by explaining future company benefits or showing concrete ROI, you need to focus on these larger points to show that what you’re asking for is worthwhile.
3. Knowing your product
While this is already a natural priority for any QA tester, the ability to learn about your product quickly and thoroughly is another important skill to have in your arsenal. A tester’s main job usually consists of testing software before it’s released to production, but it’s important to remember that this software doesn’t just exist in a vacuum. The development team is building this software or application to create a seamless user experience for your target audience, as well as address a variety of needs that your customers might have.
When getting to know the product, it is important to both understand the product’s technical capabilities as well as the various real-time business situations that may arise for your users. This effort comes with many different benefits. Not only will you be able to prioritize which tests are most important, but this level of understanding will also inform future exploratory tests. Gaining deeper insight into how people interact with your application will help you understand its boundaries, and confirm whether or not newly added processes will continue to produce positive results for your audience.
Another reason why knowing your product is an important soft skill for QA testers is that it will inform the feedback that you will give the development team. Which leads to the next important skill that testers need to succeed in the industry:
4. Communicating effectively
One of the largest challenges of fast, high-quality software development is the lack of effective communication between developers and testers. Aside from the difference in technical skills, there is also a difference in priorities. While developers typically strive to create the most efficient code possible, testers often are ensuring that this meets the relevant user needs.
A great way to improve communication is by taking the time to learn about other people’s experiences, areas of strength, and goals for learning. A lot of good communication stems from strong relationship-building, and learning more about people on different teams is a great way to start. Getting a better sense of the people you work with will also pave the way for stronger collaboration. With this increased level of understanding, you will be able to interact more empathetically and learn who is best to work with for different tasks. This also creates a more positive work environment filled with trust, which will enhance the team’s ability to produce higher quality work.
QA requires more than technical skills
Software testers utilize many important skills in order to succeed in their work. While continuously developing technical know-how is important, it is also crucial to not forget those soft skills that will also serve you well in the future. These skills are what ultimately make the difference between a good tester and a great tester.