Traits of Exceptional Tester : Exploring the 4s!

What qualities do you believe define an exceptional tester?

Check this post.

Let’s dive into the 4s together and explore what makes us stand out in the dynamic world of software testing.


Some of my thoughts on this topic: Konstantin Sakhchinskiy on LinkedIn: What qualities do companies with effective processes and a strong…

QA professionals who:

  • Are helpful, and always willing to solve any problem, big or small, without passing it off to others.
  • Have exceptional determination and never give up when facing tough challenges.
  • Can work independently but also can work with others.
  • Work closely with different teams, understanding business needs and goals.
  • Take initiative and are always ready to take action.
  • Have a curious mindset and come up with interesting ways to test things.

Tech expertise is crucial, but the right mindset is invaluable and can’t be learned or taught.


There’s many kinds of exceptional testers… think its hard to stuff everything into one person. The old time Ericsson AXE system troubleshooters were generally just mean… :slight_smile:

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Reading the 4s LI post, I fail to see how those traits don’t apply to any person doing knowledge work.

What does exceptional tester mean and why is it important?
One can be exceptional in a workplace without being an outstanding tester.
One can live an exceptional life as a tester because of their luck or income.
Being exceptional isn’t necessarily good; for example when there are many around who don’t understand it, or value it; or the exceptional person could be missing a trait or skill that isn’t related to testing that’s required to function in society.

Estimates on exceptional testers:
I asked ChatGPT about estimates of the exceptional people in various domains and it says 1%. I have high expectations so I’d say it’s way less.
So taking 5 million worldwide testers, up to 50k could be exceptional.
MoT has 100k users, maybe 1k active? out of which 10 could be exceptional.

Can an exceptional tester identify himself?
And I wonder if an exceptional person wouldn’t be modest enough to not notice it and consider themselves as average. This is also because the better one gets the more they see how little they know.

Are all testers exceptional in any context or a specific context - are they in that context?

Getting there vs staying there:
Is the path to becoming exceptional including the same skills as when one is already exceptional?

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@shad0wpuppet Great insights! completely agree that while technical expertise is crucial. the mindset and qualities you mentioned truly set exceptional testers apart.

@anders62 That’s an interesting perspective! Its true that exceptional testers can come in various forms, each bringing their unique strengths. The Ericsson AXE system troubleshooters sound like they had quite the reputation for their skills, diversity in approaches definitely enriches the testing landscape.

@ipstefan Thankyou for sharing and raising some interesting points.
Defining what makes an exceptional tester can indeed vary based on perspective and contexts. It’s intriguing to consider how exceptional intersects with both individual capability and societal norms. The journey to becoming exceptional and staying there likely involves continuous learning, adaptability and a willingness to evolve alongside the ever-changing landscape of software testing.

Those years, early 90´s when I worked for Ericsson there was a lot of testing going on on extremely complex timesharing systems (a lot has been done to simplify things like “processes” since then) there were a lot of competences needed. A lot of skills. Some people thrive in going into bits and pieces, like automation(test automation was very much a thing back then), others thrived being methodolical, structuring tests and test objects, others (like me) wanted to see the systems and understand the customers need, and others wanted to solve the extremely intrinsical bugs in those systems and correct them (yes, those days we included source code to fix the problem in the bugs).

It was another SW world but I see a lot of this still. People in test departments complementing each other to form a unit that, well, satisfies all those 4s. Having been in managerial positions and a lot of other positions in the SW world during a couple of decades, I now see a trend, not least among managers, that everyone should be “everything”. And while that would be nice as a manager, everyone being able to do everything perfectly, I think this needs some reality checks. In the end, people are people. And different things rocks our boats. Read the list, but also for each point ponder, is that something that gets me going? Or is it something I have to handle while still not loving it?