I have worked as a software tester in small corporation for about three years now. I still have a long way to go, but I've understood that it takes something special to be a great tester in today's Agile environments. Be it bug finding or understanding the application structure, it requires creativity to go ahead smoothly. I feel it's the ability to generate multiple, unique and out of the box test ideas to test an application successfully.

What are the more important traits required to excel and provide business value to the stakeholders in today's fast changing software industry?


Qualities that make a great tester have nothing to do with the development methodology being used - the same qualities that make a tester great in an Agile setting make them great in a Waterfall setting.

Some of the big ones from my experience:

Personal Characteristics

  • Communications skills - being able to find issues doesn't matter if the tester can't communicate them accurately and tactfully.
  • Advocacy - This is something of a subset of communications, but deserves its own listing because a great tester is able to give solid, researched reasons why specific issues need to be fixed; able to advocate for testing in general and their team in specific.
  • Attention to detail - this might be a bit clichéd, but being able to notice that some little thing is off is crucial to finding issues - not to mention validating complex business logic.
  • Big picture thinking - It's a challenge to be able to focus on small details and big picture at the same time, but great testers can and do. Tracking a small detail without losing the big picture is crucial.
  • Persistence - when something frustrating and intermittent is happening, a great tester keeps trying different ideas to chase down the root cause.
  • Fast learner - I've yet to work in an environment where the learning curve wasn't so steep it could be described as a learning cliff. With overhang.

Technical Skills

  • Familiarity with software and hardware - This doesn't mean hard-core geek, but knowing the difference between a serial and a parallel port matters if the application being tested uses both.
  • Basic to moderate knowledge of SQL - being able to find information in a database is invaluable to every testing job I've needed to do. Being able to manipulate database information is also helpful.
  • Speaker to Management - being able to translate from programmer to normal human or to manager is particularly important if the test group doesn't have a lead or manager doing this job for them. All three groups will use the same words but mean quite different things by them.
  • Read code - being able to read code is actually more important than being able to write code, in my experience. It allows the tester to trace logic and find potential edges to the application.
  • Boundary Rider - searching for boundaries in the application and exercising them means pushing the application in the places where it's most likely to have weaknesses.

As far as creativity and thinking out of the box goes, I'm not really qualified to discuss that because I never could find the wretched box in the first place.


This is a very open ended question. I will try to maintain an objective list and leave opinion out.

  1. Detail Oriented while also maintaining a bigger impact picture (Some are one or the other which working together as a team provides full coverage with this.
  2. Technical knowledge and ability to figure things out (constant technology changes are happening and a Software Tester needs to be able to keep up)
  3. Customer focus. This often involves requirements, but a tester who is able to test an application while keeping in mind the customer will find the "best" bugs and not just everything that appears to be problematic.
  4. Curiosity at understanding what the exact issue is. (Many times just finding something and writing it up doesn't actually produce what the real issue is...also the really good testers are curious enough to dig on odd behaviors to uncover the hidden bugs that have far reaching affects, but usually aren't obvious or part of the normal testing.)
  5. Good communication, especially in writing up bugs. Clear communication helps everyone do their jobs better and decreases on the churn.
  6. Massive objectivity. Often a tester will receive all sorts of flak from others (specifically dev) because their job is to ensure quality. Depending on the organizations structure sometimes dev quality work is judged by the number of bugs in their code. This of course will start a war between QA and Dev because by QA doing their jobs Dev is scared of getting fired. (Management issue here, but when there are alot of business people managing technical people this happens very often. Management counts numbers) So the tester maintaining objectivity despite what is going on around him/her is important for a solid tester.
  7. Streamlining things for repeatability and scalability (automation) although there are many good traits of this that are utilized throughout manual test cases and documentation and dividing up regression tests as well.

Wow..the above two answers are just amazing. There is little space for me to answer. For 3+ years of testing experience Resource Management is the key. Learn how to manage and deploy the resources working under you to achieve the deadline. In other words resource management is the art which you earn after lot of practical experience.


The answers above are brilliant and cover your question pretty well.

The only thing that I would add that, as a tester, you have to have a passion and a love for what you are doing. I've been in QA for just over 10 years now and I still get a thrill when I find a bug. Plus, it's incredibly satisfying to see a product I have worked on being shipped; knowing I had an impact on that product and made it what it is is very rewarding. You are more likely to find issues and 'think outside the box' if you genuinely care about what you are testing and how you are testing it. I know that some tasks can be laborious and mind numbing....but if you can come out the other side feeling happy with what you have achieved, then you can consider yourself a good tester.

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