Can-I-become-a-testerOften we are asked to explain what a tester does and whether someone might be a good fit for the job. It can be challenging to explain to someone without making it sound too simplistic such as a checking job or so difficult that they are intimidated. Over the next few months, I would like to address a few questions and challenges I face as a Software Testing Manager. I often get the question “do you think I could be a tester?” and “how do I learn to test?” Once we hire a novice tester additional questions become “how do I know when to stop testing?” and “where do I start with testing this slip?”

In this article I will address the question “do you think I could be a tester?” We need to spend time thinking about the importance of that question to determine how we respond. Not only are we representing the Testing Community but also impacting that person’s decision to potentially pursue a new career. The below information is in no particular order and serves as suggestions that you may build upon. I am addressing this question from a black-box functionality perspective.

What Does He Think a Tester Does?
It can be helpful to know what the person understands about testing or his perception of what a tester does. Has he performed any testing activities- whether work related or personal? For example, does he have a curious nature when something does not work resulting in him trying to understand how to reproduce the problem? Does he think the job is a “quality police” role?

Knowing the gaps in his job knowledge can give you direction on where to start a conversation. What is His Career Interests? What does the person enjoy doing? What does he dislike? For example, if he enjoys facilitating cross-functional meetings and being involved in implementing company-wide initiatives, then testing might not be the right career choice. However, be sure to discuss with him what he enjoys about these activities because competencies cross over many disciplines. There might be aspects of those activities that fit well with a tester’s responsibilities. And as an opposite example, just because someone indicates they like to find problems and break software does not mean they will be a good tester. Testing is a lot more than finding a few obvious problems.

A Job Opening in Your Department

If the person is interested in a job in your department, identify the traits you look for in a tester. For example, how we approach a problem or situation is important for a tester. Typically, all our details are not provided on how a feature should work. We need to formulate our questions to gather additional information. Technical skills may be important if the tester needs to write automated tests or query the database. Based upon the skills that are important, find a way to relay that information to him and/or formulate questions to help understand his competency in those areas. Do not just rattle off a bunch of qualifications. Discuss the imporance of the duties with examples and how his background might be a fit.

Sample Testing Opportunities

If he is an employee of your company, see if he can shadow testing an easier part of your product. Are there are a few simple bugs or easier enhancements that you can review the requirements, testing approach, and demonstrate the testing with him? This does require some time. You do not want him to just watch someone test as most likely he will not gain much from the experience. Plus keep in mind if he has never tested this will all be new to him. He may not know what questions to ask about the testing he is witnessing. This should not be the only way you provide information on a testing role.

If the question is from someone not part of your company, try to find other avenues to demonstrate testing. Perhaps a video game or something else of interest to the person that you can sit down and show how you might test.

Share How You Became a Tester

I enjoyed reading the below article by Elena Houser since she shared her experiences how she became a tester and why she enjoys the field. Certainly, you can share this article; however, take some time to discuss your own experiences on how you became a tester.
Why did you stay with the field and what satisfaction do you have from being a tester. Perhaps a few people in your department can share their stories and make the job more personal.

Take Your Time

In answering this question, you need time. This is not a quick shadowing exercise or a one-time conversation. Try to find different ways to provide information and spend quality time discussing the field. Do not overwhelm him with too much information in a given conversation. Allow time between discussions so he has time to identify questions and perhap concerns of becoming a tester. I like to have conversations in a relaxed environment if possible. Remember it is a great honor for someone to seek you out for career advice or to express the desire to work in your department. Niel RuhlandArticlesTesting ArticleOften we are asked to explain what a tester does and whether someone might be a good fit for the job. It can be challenging to explain to someone without making it sound too simplistic such as a checking job or so difficult that they are intimidated. Over the next few months, I...
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Bernice Niel Ruhland

Bernice Niel Ruhland is a Software Testing Manager with more than 20-years experience in testing strategies and execution, developing testing frameworks, performing data validation, and financial programming. She uses social media to connect with other testers to understand the testing approaches adopted by them to challenge her own testing skills and approaches. When not exploring the testing world, Bernice enjoys cooking and spending time with her husband living a health-conscious lifestyle. The opinions of this article are her own and not reflective of the company she is employed. Apart from other activities she regularly contributes to Testing Circus Magazine.

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