How to become a good QA employee?



  • I am in a unique situation where I was hired as for QA with no computer background. How this happened is a long story but now I'm here, trying to become a useful and productive member of this team. Where would you start your training? What are some of the most useful skills to have?



  • The most important skill, I think, is learning about the product. Learn, learn, learn everything you can about your product and how it is used. That tide will float about half of your boats.

    The other roughly half of your boats float on a different tide: your social skills. You need to do a lot of listening and offering support. Get to know the other people on the team and become known as the guy who says "yes I can look at that." "yes, I can help you with that." Writing skill is part of this. Get to know users if you can.

    When you combine social skill and product skill, it enables you to connect dots that other people miss. That's really what testers do (I'm going to assume that when you said QA you meant testing or something close to that): we notice inconsistencies that might be important and we report them.

    Learning about technical things and programming is helpful over time. In some projects, it's absolutely important. If you have gotten your job without that background, then it must not be considered critical in your project.

    Also, take an honest inventory of what skills and talents you feel that you do have and consider applying this heuristic: get really really good at things you like to do, and find friends who can help you with things you don't like to do. That's worked well for me over the years. For instance, I like documentation, programming, and analysis, but I'm not very reliable when it comes to any repetitive or periodic task. I prefer to work in "episodes".

    So I'm better suited for test architecture work, consulting, teaching, or one-time testing blitzes.


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