Why Curiosity Makes for an Excellent Software Tester
What makes for an excellent software tester? Having technical knowledge is essential, but even more important than what a tester knows is how a tester thinks. A consistent quality of the best software testers is a curious, inquisitive mind.
Testers often are drawn to the career and then excel in their position due to their unflagging curiosity. They want to know what goes into making a program, what makes a product tick, how an app is implemented, and what can mess up otherwise good code. They want to know what new bugs they will find today, what methods their coworkers use for testing, what will stump them, and how they will become “unstumped.”
A recent post by Guy Mason on the Ministry of Testing site says, “A curious mind is one that could be described as an active, engaged and inquisitive mind. Such a mind frequently seeks out new information, enjoys discovering what there is to discover and enjoys the process that comes along with this goal. . . . As a result, a curious person is more likely to uncover properties that might have otherwise remained hidden to other people.” He continues:
Whilst this relationship is not required for a person to become a tester, it is this underlying nature of wanting to know more, wanting to explore further, wanting to discover the unknown that shapes the behaviours of such a tester. It drives the tester to uncover more about the system or product that they are testing.
This openness to new information and desire to be constantly learning are often described as childlike. Inquisitive testers keep asking “Why?” and want to take something apart just to see how it works. Often people grow out of this characteristic or the trait gets repressed over the course of their lifetime. But if you’re a tester who would like to reignite some of your curiosity, there are methods you can try.
First, question everything. Is the program working the way it’s supposed to? Does it work under every possible use case? Is it intuitive and easy to use? You should try testing in ways you may not be used to. Aim to break the software, strive to see the product with fresh eyes the way a user would, and don’t be afraid to offer suggestions or improvements.
This method of approaching your usual work with tactics that are new and unconventional for you is part of what’s called unlearning. Unlearning is about trying to disregard your ingrained habits and being open to new perspectives. This shift in thinking and behavior leaves you open to new ideas and can help you discover better ways to test.
If you feel like you’re in a slump when it comes to your testing methods, you should try approaching your work with new curiosity. It could not only make you better at your job but also could be the key to reigniting your passion for testing.