Six traits of a great QA engineer

By Cameron Vogler

Take away quality assurance (QA) testing, and what would your software development outputs look like? Not too pretty, I would bet.

QA is your best option for finding/fixing issues before they impact your bottom line, brand reputation or development capabilities. To keep problems from slipping into production, you need the best possible QA engineers.

But what makes a great QA engineer? What qualities do they possess that elevate them above the masses?

We’ve compiled six traits of a great QA engineer.

1. Inquisitive

  • Ask, “What if…” to better understand the product or the requirements.
  • Questions bad practices. Wondering what will happen if you do different things is how you find defects and identify requirements.

2. Thorough

  • Obsessed with checking work, recreating defects to verify them and testing everything that needs to be tested.
  • Not bound to test to the “letter of the law,” but testing the spirit of the requirement beyond what’s written.
  • Tests to break to find flaws so they don’t make it farther into development.
  • Cares about quality. Doesn’t just want things to work, wants them to work well.

3. Diplomatic

  • Great communicator. Clear and concise when reporting on issues.
  • Able to judge audience (developers, project managers, product owners, etc.) and adjust communication as needed.
  • Cognizant that QA testing is a team game and the ultimate success is team success.
  • Can negotiate and make a strong, informed case for why a requirement should be a certain way or why something really is a defect.
  • Doesn’t play the blame game and understands that everyone makes mistakes. If not, they wouldn’t have a job!

4. Creative

  • Nonconventional thinking helps test the usability of an application and hammer out all use cases.
  • Thinks on their feet to create solutions if Plan B or C doesn’t work.
  • Improves process by finding better ways to do things.

5. Perspective

  • Can get into the mindset and understand how developers, product owners and users view the product.
  • Sees/pinpoints where the issue happened, often without help from the log.
  • Knows what’s important and what’s not. Sometimes you need to decide what you are going to test next based on priority or business need.
  • Understands how software development works outside of just their QA role.

6. Skilled

  • Great at finding glitches/bugs/defects.
  • Can read and write code to fully understand developers work and make changes as needed.
  • Writes and runs automated tests.

– Cameron Vogler: Catalyte developer and member of the QA COE.