Lesson 7 - Activity 2 - What skills and knowledge does a tester need?

Time: 1 hour
During the lesson, we discussed some high-level skills that a tester requires to highlight the diversity of a tester’s knowledge and skill. We’ve looked at communication, questioning, critical and lateral thinking skills and talked about technical skills. Now it’s your turn to dig a little deeper and expand this list.

Purpose: Taking time to research and identify a list of skills and knowledge you think a tester needs to succeed in their role will allow you to learn that knowledge and develop those skills yourself.


  1. Research the testing role in more detail. Try asking a tester some questions on The Club or on Slack or interview someone you work with (if possible). Look at some testing job listings. Search on The Dojo. Search The Club posts. Search the web. Try to discover what skills and knowledge you think a tester needs to succeed.
  2. Share your findings on this thread to help others on this course and help us build a big list to discuss what skills and knowledge a tester needs.
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  • I’ve read about lots of testing skills lists, collections, from various testers.
    Generally it only comes down to the core of the testing: evaluate the product, find threats to the quality of the product.
    How you do that, it might not matter. In some contexts, the only skill needed can be luck.

  • The question is too generally formulated. As not the same skills and knowledge would apply in various cases.
    E.g. : the tester needs A in order to get promoted to lead in his company(e.g. be the loudest person in the room), he needs B in order to get a bonus or salary increase (e.g. do whatever his manager says), he needs C in order to be respected by his colleagues(e.g. understand and talk about the product technical architecture and code), he needs D in order for the stakeholders to appreciate him(e.g. help them decrease costs in their departments), he needs E in order to be visible in the company for anyone that needs testing(e.g. find the bugs none finds, be able to setup and spin test environments, be able to criticize excellently anything), he needs F in order to increase the coverage with testing for many projects (e.g. structure, speed, great at finding bugs, fast to switch between contexts), he needs G in order to find deeply hidden bugs(e.g. deep understanding of the business domain),…and so on…

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Other skills that I can think of:

Presentational skills - we need to be able to present our findings to our peers and teammates as clearly and efficiently as possible

Investigative skills - ties into learning, but makes learning more effective if we know how to search for new information, whether on the user, the product or the tech in general

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Well, I am a background in Customer Service and I can see a focus on Customer Satisfaction as a skill to have when testing. If you aim at your client satisfaction you probrably will deliver a quality product.

So being customer focused can help improving the quality of the final product.

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Other skills needed to be a good tester:

Cross-functional - in a few different ways. One way is with regards to the technology, for instance whether the software will be for a mobile, laptop/desktop, smart device or a combination. Also with regards to the team. Testing at the ideas stage has different approaches and intentions than testing the physical code or usability so it would be useful to have skills in both digging for further information and technical skills to identify bugs.

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Many job ads tend towards the specific in academic, technical and experience terms, but a couple of others might be:

Organization/Time management

Ability to influence and challenge

Confidence in testing abilities

Interest in the subject matter, or desire to learn about it

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A tester must be able to manage their own workload and be an independent thinker. Although collaboration is an important part of software testing, a tester should be able to express their own view on a product and how they would approach testing. Workload management is also an important skill for a tester to have as they need to be able to prioritise the stages of testing, and decide which approach they will take to testing depending on the product.

Tester: Knowldege & Skills required

  • knowledge over software development lifecycle
  • the skill to collaborate in a team
  • knowledge of how to program
  • knowledge over testing tools
  • the skill to report their results

Welcome to the MOT club Bruno. Do tell us more about yourself, is your skill set primarily in development of applications on which platforms, or in systems and do you prefer Manual to Automated testing? Keen to understand why Testers need to know how to program though, since it’s not a requirement for detecting the majority of SW defects.

Both conventional and unconventional methods of testing each software and providing precise feedback with suggestions and possible improvements should that be the case. Unconventional methods suggested because there is no one plan that fits all with anything in life and the same goes for testing. Must be able to change and shift for each new software that comes along the way.

Being somewhat multidisciplined could be a great skill to have a tester as it would make you more sympathetic to the demands of other members of your team and give you a greater understanding of how to solve the problems at hand.

In a field that is rapidly changing, the skill of being able to learn fast will also be incredibly valued.

This is quite similar to the previous activity so I’ll mention new skills I think a tester needs.

Fast Learner - There’s never one way to solver a problem and by exploring new tools, methods, techniques and technology you can mostly likely find a better or even a more effective way to solving them.

Understand of the test process - it’s crucial that a tester applies the appropriate test process that best suits the project to save more time, money and also avoid spend unnecessary efforts used.

Communication is key
Another important skill is to be able to clearly and concisely report an issue (and how said issue can be re-produced). Someone could be the greatest most proficient individual in the world but, if they cannot communicate their findings to their colleagues, confusion can be created with the issue remaining unsolved while losing time and money.

I believe being adaptable to a situation is an essential skill for any tester to have.

This could include the ability to use new software or programs to benefit your own testing, so that you can provide more to your team. As well as this, being adaptable would benefit with being able to structure and report an issue clearly to different people, as while testing, you need to ensure that your work can be understood from different perspectives as your colleagues will interpret information differently to one another.

A basic answer that applies to most jobs is soft skills and hard skills.

For a tester, hard skills might include things like:

  • Coding, understanding IDEs, version control, and programming skills
  • Using testing software
  • Data analysis, using data tools to present and understand metrics
  • Office software, such as Word, PowerPoint, Teams, or their equivalents

The soft skills might include:

  • Communication, including active listening
  • Presentation, public speaking and organizing information in an easily digestible way
  • Collaboration, working with a lot of different people with different goals, interests, and personalities