I’ve been recruiting testers for over a decade there for various companies performing various roles and I feel like I’ve become better at it over time. There are many different aspects of a person and their history that come in to play when interviewing applicants.
The biggest thing that I look for in a tester is the mindset they have and the behaviours they exhibit because of this mindset. An individual can have all the skills in the world but if they don’t have the right mindset they won’t be a great tester. So what makes the right mindset?
Big picture thinking
A great tester always has to have the end goal in mind. What is the reason you are creating something and how does it fit in to the way the users will use your product? Being able to contribute to and make small decisions is useful but only if it contributes to a wider goal.
Focus on quality
I would always want my testers to be thinking about the quality of the end product at any time. Whether they are taking part in refinement sessions, writing some code, deploying some software or anything else they should be thinking about how their actions will lead to a quality product.
I think it’s important that a tester has values and principles that they look to stick to. However there are times (especially when working for a client) when compromises must be made. It’s important that a tester can understand when these times occur and react to them appropriately. The ability to be pragmatic when required and do the right thing for the situation is very underrated.
There are many situations a tester will find themselves in where it’s not clear what the best way to test something is. A tester needs to have the ability to think of different ways of doing things and come up with ways to help a situation that others may not think of.
Ultimately in software development if you are not delivering software then what’s the point? I want a tester to be considering the value in their actions all the time and never just doing something for the sake of it. Every action has to work towards the ultimate goal of delivering quality software.
I find skills to be the least important thing to look for in a tester. This is because no matter what client or project you end up working on, you may need to use different tools, technologies or test methodologies. So instead of focusing on individual skills, I look for the following:
- A variety of tools used -> This indicates an adaptable individual and an ability to use different skills for different situations rather than a tendency to stick to and push one tool they know well
- Quick to learn -> I want to see that an individual can quickly learn something new and quickly adapt to any tool
- Keeping up to date -> It’s important in any role to ensure you are up to date with the latest in the industry and I look to see how an individual does this through making use of the community and other resources
In the end it doesn’t matter about the skills or behaviours that an individual has if they are not a good fit for your company. Every company has an culture they want to foster within their teams and the best way to do this is to employ people who buy in to that culture. It is very difficult to convert people to a different culture to one which they enjoy. You can always improve people’s skills and behaviours but you can’t (and maybe shouldn’t) change your employee’s personalities.
Skills and experience are useful to build up a tester’s toolkit, but the way a tester behaves to me makes the difference between a good and a great tester. But none of this actually matters if they are not the right fit for the company and vice versa.