20 Soft Skills Every QA Professional Should Have
When you’re starting your career as a QA professional you’ll be so focused on learning the necessary technical skills that you’ll forget all the other little things you need to know and learn about. Yes, I’m talking about Soft Skills.
What are the Soft Skills every QA professional should have? Not sure… Read on, because I’m going to tell you all about them in this article.
- Excellent Communication
The job of a QA professional is to find bugs and issues in applications. But, once they’ve found these bugs they must note and explain their findings to other individuals in a report, so that these issues can be fixed. Therefore, as a QA professional you must be able to effectively communicate a problem in both oral and written form to an intended audience.
Plus, you have to be empathetic, tactful, and diplomatic when telling someone about the issues you have found. Think about it, when you’re reporting back to someone about the bugs you have found, you’re telling a team of people about all the mistakes they have made in their work, and you will be doing that often. So, you have to be careful with how you communicate with them, so you don’t cause unwanted friction while working on the project.
Learning how not to hurt someone's feelings when communicating with them is crucial in any business, but it's vital when you’re actually telling someone about things that are wrong with a product they have created, especially if they’ve been working on it for a few months!
Finally, let’s not forget the fact that you will actually be communicating across various teams, and in some cases countries when working in QA. So, you must be able to communicate clearly, or the project will not succeed.
When working in QA there can be many things going on at once, so you need to know what tasks actually need to be completed before you can move on.
If you do things in the wrong order you can sometimes end up in a little bit of a mess, and you might find yourself re-doing tasks.
- Interpersonal Skills/Team Player
When working in a team, which most QA professionals do, you need to be mindful of those in your team, so having good interpersonal skills is a must have.
As QA is likely to be a team activity, a lack of awareness, or interest in developing one's interpersonal skills could lead to an awkward team dynamic, and it could make working on a project very difficult.
You must work with the people in your team daily, so it’s better for the team as a whole if you actually appreciate each individual in the team for who they are, and their talent.
As a QA professional you need to have complete control over your work, or else it will become very messy, very quickly. I mean, the very job of a QA tester is to ensure that the quality of a product is sound, so they should practice this by keeping their own work clear and well organized.
- Attention to Detail
As a tester, you have to find what others have missed. So, you must think creatively and consider the quality of a product from various aspects when testing the said product. I mean, sometimes a minor bug can lead to significant problems later on, and you don’t want that to happen.
A testing job requires a lot of precision and focus from a tester.
- Knowing What and When to Ask Questions
When working in QA you will be doing a lot of teamwork, and you will be doing a good amount of communicating too. Therefore, a great skill to have is to know what questions actually need to be asked, and when they need to be asked.
Sometimes we get caught up in chatting with team members, or to different people, but it’s empowering to have an engineer in your team who knows how to get a discussion back on track.
An individual with this skill is usually the one who gets to the centre of a problem, and they typically know what questions to ask, so that the team knows exactly what they need to do.
Without asking the right questions, there is no way of deciding what needs to be done, and how something needs to be done.
Although a lot of action should be taken when running a QA test, you should also be able to listen carefully.
Listening is imperative, and it can be the difference between success and failure in QA.
Think about it, QA professionals must be able to listen to what the product owners want, what the end-users say, and what the development team have said, so that they can determine if the quality of the product meets its requirements.
Nonetheless, it's vital that when working in a team that you also listen to your team members, because they can also have ideas and issues that need to be shared.
If you don’t listen, how will you know what to actually do with the product you are testing, and not listening to team members is just going to cause issues within the team.
- Problem Solving
As a QA professional, you’ll have to problem solve on a daily basis. Not all problems are difficult to resolve, but there will be times when you need to think more in depth to find a solution to a hard problem.
QA professionals are there to find problems, so it's natural that they will want to find solutions to these problems.
- Effective Time-Management
You will rarely have all the time in the world to run your test. So, learning how to estimate, prioritize, and plan all your testing activities will help you to avoid a stressful situation for you and your team in the long run.
- End-user Empathy
As a QA professional you will often look at the quality of a product from the end-users point of view, so having empathy and an understanding of the end-user’s mindset is critical for a product’s success. Think about it, if you test a product for quality, but fail to think of the end-user and what they want, then you have tested and signed off on a product that is not wanted or needed by the end-user.
End-user empathy is key!
No matter how good your technical skills are, sometimes it is solely your intuition that helps you solve a problem. And don't worry, learning how to trust your judgment comes with experience.
Like any job, things can change over time or very quickly, and QA is no different. When working in QA you must be able to adapt quickly to a situation, or to many situations at once in some cases.
When working in QA you’ve got to continuously keep up with the processes, changes, and feedback you get.
Failing to be adaptable means that you won’t be able to keep up with the work and the team.
We won't lie to you, testing can be repetitive and it will require effort on your part. But, you need to have a positive attitude and remember that no matter how boring the current job seems to be, you can rest assured that it is vital to the owner of the product, and the end-users, that you work hard and persevere with the project.
14. Lead Discussions and Meetings
This will not be strictly true for every QA professional, but there may be times when you are asked to lead a discussion or a meeting with your team. This doesn’t have to be as bad as it sounds, if you prepare yourself in advance.
Leading discussions is a really good way of seeing how everyone is getting on with the project, and it's a time to reflect and feedback on any issues and ideas. It can also improve the team spirit too.
15. Decision Making
When working in QA you will be gathering data/information and drawing conclusions from this, so that you can move on accordingly.
In QA you’ll be doing this almost daily, so you need to have a good decision making process in place to ensure that you don’t take too much time to make a final decision.
Decision making doesn’t have to be an individual thing, but when you are working on a QA project you are going to be running to tight deadlines, so you don’t really have all the time in the world to debate decisions.
16. Stress Resistance
Did you know that according to CareerBliss, the role of a QA analyst is the second happiest job in the US? Yes, this job is meaningful, the salary is excellent, and the career progression opportunities are promising.
But at the same time, you will have to deal with very tight deadlines, repetitive tasks, and perhaps the occasional difficult colleague. So, learning how to stay positive and stress free in each situation will help you to achieve success in your QA career.
17. Learn From Past Experience
QA, like most other areas in the IT world, is ever growing. So when you move from one project to another, you can take your past experience and apply what you learnt to a new project. There will often be similarities across projects, so you can utilise what you have learnt to solve problems in other projects.
This is also demonstrating a growth mindset too, as you are repeatedly learning, instead of continuously repeating the same mistakes over and over again.
18. Sharing Knowledge
As QA is usually done in a team, you’ll likely find yourself sharing your knowledge and past experiences with other members of your team. This is a great way of getting people involved in a project because you can all share your knowledge to come to the best solution.
It’s also really helpful for those who are new to the team, they can see that the team is a collaborative and friendly team, who only ever want to help each other and to ensure a product is of its best quality.
19. Ability to Learn Quickly
Becoming an excellent QA professional is impossible without the ability to learn quickly. The testing field is exceptionally fast-changing - new tools appear, and methodologies change frequently. So, there is only one thing you can do about it, accept the rapid change and be ready to keep learning.
20. Strong Analytical Skills
Analytical thinking is also very important in software testing. You will often have to break down complex problems into much smaller units, so you can analyze each element, and come up with the best possible solution.
Remember, in-depth knowledge of testing methods and tools will help you to land a job as a QA tester. But don’t forget that the Soft Skills are equally important for your future success.
Don't worry if you think that you lack some of these skills, because being able to identify some of your weaker points is simply the first step in improving them.
What next? If you think a career in QA is for you, then head on over to our website to check out our courses!