Have you ever considered what it means to be a tester or quality assurance (QA) engineer? Is it someone who finds issues on web pages, programs, or applications so they can be fixed? If that’s all that’s involved, we might assume that a QA engineer’s skills are minimal and they don’t require any special ability, training, or knowledge. We might think that anyone who has a good eye and understands the logic of computer systems could do this work.
In fact, you will find testers and QA engineers who don’t have any specific training or background for their jobs. Sometimes, they might not even have the right set of skills for the job being performed. Unfortunately, this lack of expertise can make it look like the job could be done by anyone capable of simple observation.
As a QA engineer at Gorilla Logic, I can tell you that this isn’t the case at all. My job absolutely requires specialized knowledge and skills. Even more importantly, there is a specific mindset I have found that makes a truly exceptional QA engineer. It’s a set of qualities that makes us unique and draws a very clear line between high-quality work and simple observation.
Here are the six characteristics I believe are most valuable to the professional QA engineer—qualities that truly set us apart.
1. Continuous desire to grow: We’re always open-minded and want to become even better at our jobs. We think about quality not only on a project or program, but as the quality we can deliver. This can only be done by continuously growing and learning from others, from different sources, courses, and feedback. We don’t settle for what we know or have learned before, but strive to learn more and become even better professionals.
2. Commitment to teamwork: We never see ourselves as a team of one, capable of doing all the most important tasks on our own. We know that our work depends on others and that quality is not a one-person job, but a job that belongs to the whole team. We can only deliver the best quality possible if we depend on others, work together, and support each other. For a QA engineer, there is no ‘I,’ there is only ‘Me, as part of a team.’
3. Patience: Even on projects that have a time constraint, we must always take the time to do the tasks correctly and not rush. We compromise our work when we try to go too fast, and find fewer issues. It’s our eye for detail and respect for the work of others that helps us to be patient. We understand that doing our job carefully and thoroughly is what ensures we deliver the best possible results.
4. Grace under pressure: There will always be a deadline, a client request, or an issue that might make it very hard for us to do the work required. In these times, we must become the calm center of the storm. Maintaining objectivity allows us to first understand the problem that has come up and then how we can work with others to finish the task at hand. We think of pressure not as a hindrance, but as an opportunity to shine as professionals with our team because of our hard work and commitment to the work and each other.
5. Humility: We must always consider ourselves as people who depend on the help of others. We learn from each person we work with, and we learn most from those who value contributions to our everyday work. We must always give our very best to each person we work with and let our actions speak for us. A good QA engineer’s skill set should include humility and they should strive to always show respect to others and share in both the successes and challenges the team encounters.
6. Positive outlook: While finding errors can be stressful, and sometimes make us feel like nothing is going right, we must always keep a positive attitude. Our work is an important part of what leads to the success of our projects, and it helps to ensure the best delivery possible. We need to believe in our potential as professionals and, no matter what obstacles we face, keep doing our very best. Believing in ourselves and the job we do is what leads us to become even better every day.
When combined with the right knowledge and technical skills, these six qualities can really set an exceptional QA engineer’s skills apart from the rest. As QA professionals, we must always remember that depending on others, learning from them, and actively listening to their ideas and feedback, helps us grow even stronger. Be proud to be yourself, share with others what you learn, and remember that a true QA engineer is someone who delivers the best work possible and continuously learns from every experience and roadblock encountered.