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Experienced QA Professionals and Rapidly Changing World? How to Excel in the Job?

February 19, 2018
Manual QA Interview Prep
Experienced Tester, Experienced QA, Experienced QA Professional, how to excel in software testing, how to get success in testing field, how to succeed in software testing job

You must have heard people saying ‘Time does not wait for anyone, it keeps flying’. Let me share with you, my version of this phrase i.e. ‘Technology does not wait for anyone and keeps changing’. Don’t you agree with this? Haven’t you experienced multiple updates coming through on your Android/iOS phones each year? Well, in that case, I have to tell you the importance of it, especially for the experienced tester.

Being a quality assurance professional, my focus will be on the software testing/quality assurance domain. In today’s article we will discuss:

Point #1:  The importance of why one should not keep himself outdated.

Point #2: The tips and other option on how you can survive in the QA field.

Point # 3: Being an experienced resource (experienced tester), how can you cash in your skills and keep progressing.

Point # 4: What challenges are faced by the experienced tester(s) and how are they being ignored.

I am a tech enthusiast. I never hesitate to explore new tools, technology. And this is what every tech person should do. If you are not updating your skillset with the passage of time, your company will find a replacement for the job you used to do. And they won’t be requiring any senior resource, they will just appoint a fresh resource due to the reasons mentioned below:

Reasons for appointing a fresh/junior resource over a senior resource

  • Reason 1: They can work with less salary.
  • Reason 2: They can be molded/manipulated on the direction company wants.
  • Reason 3: They can work for long hours without saying a word as they are exploited in the name of learning, hard work, dedication, ownership and lots of terms.
  • Reason 4: Easy to dictate.
  • Reason 5: No job insecurity as they keep switching on any opportunity.
  • Reason 6: Employer wants there work done in less investment.
  • Reason 7: New ideas, able to get the work done from an alternate approach

So above reasons sum up some of the points I could think of. If you are working for a bigger organization, your work will be valued as the organization understands the purpose of hiring a senior resource and how much impact he/she can have on the business.

But if you are in a small startup, medium level organization you will have to struggle to keep yourself on top. It becomes quite challenging due to organization’s mindset as we discussed for above reasons.

Things experienced tester hear while being interviewed

Senior / Experienced testing professionals are being bullied when they try to join a new organization or request for appraisal in their current organization. They are told of being ‘outdated’ and not being productive or ‘haven’t contributed anything new’ for company’s benefit.

I have been hearing my friend’s complaining about being insulted and put down while giving an interview in XYZ Company. And I always ask why they don’t respond back. After observing different views of different people, I have concluded a list of why they are being bullied.

  1. Reason 1: They feel either overconfident, embarrassed, shy being interviewed by a junior resource.
  2. Reason 2: They don’t answer back thinking there’s no point in arguing over it.
  3. Reason 3: Employers says you are overqualified for the job.

Well for me no work is overqualified, there is always room for exploring and experiencing new stuff. If an experienced tester has applied for a job which according to you is ‘overqualified’ but for him, he might be having a different opinion. He would be thinking of the challenging nature or something new he hasn’t done yet. There can be many options, right?

For my fellow readers from the HR industry, I would like to request not to bully anyone. Do your job. Assess him on his skillset and the responses to your questions, if he’s not a good fit you can just email your response.

So being a senior resource / experienced tester what can you do to strive through all these phases?

How should you answer in interview

Let me point out what you can do during an interview.

Answer to Reason 1: Never feel overconfident. I repeat never. Your attitude is the key to continuing with the interview.

If you are overconfident, the interviewer will get it. Trust me I have taken so many interviews, I get it from the first impression and I literally stop asking further questions.

Respecting others is the thing you should master. If you give respect you will be respected. The world is round and you might come across a colleague/resource you have trained and today he/she is your interviewer. Don’t be shy, you should congratulate him/her for the success and be comfortable.

Answer to Reason 2: No don’t do this, you are wrong here. You should answer back. It’s an interview and the other person is here to evaluate your views. Especially in our testing field, you have to be ‘Convincing’. You are being judged on your convincing abilities too. I am going to answer this in detail in the next section of the article.

Answer to Reason 3: Well if you are told this, here is your chance to prove yourself and play smartly. You need to convince the interviewer on how you can be an important asset to the organization and how your experience can benefit the organization.

Show your positive side. Flip the words as you are highly qualified with additional experience which can be utilized for complex / critical testing task.

You can also say that you are currently free and don’t want to fill a gap between your professional career and you want to keep yourself busy and utilizable.

You should be flexible to join in a less salary too which is offering you a competitive/new work exposure.

Is test automation the only solution to get jobs?

The answer is a NO from me.

You see manual testing can never be replaced, ever! Yes we have plenty of automation testing software’s build up and they are trending but they are built to facilitate, ease our work and not replace the work.

Everyone can learn test automation. By everyone, I specifically meant the fresh resources.

The technology has progressed so much that you don’t even have to learn to code or do very less programming to become a test automation engineer, all you have to do is write simple statements and the software will compile/ convert it to code it understands. For example SoapUI, Apache JMeter.

So while automation testing can be an option, you shouldn’t limit your scope only on learning automation.

Things experienced tester should do to remain progressive

So let me give you some life learned options on how you can utilize your role and progress in it.

OPTION 1: Gain technical knowledge

The more technical you are, the more marketable you will be. Yes, technical knowledge does add an extra star to your profile and such individuals are definitely preferred.

If you have combined skills of testing + development, you can include yourself in all the technical specifications meetings. For e.g. white box testing and unit testing which is done by the developer but a test engineer can do this task too. You can review the code and write more in-depth test cases by knowing each exception criteria.

You can also help designing database schema’s, ERDs, UML diagrams etc.

You can volunteer to take the responsibility of deployment and database restoration on client’s staging or QA test environment which some QA’s are doing. You can also manage the CI (Continuous Integration) environment.

If your application is built on .Net framework, the exceptions are generic. Being an experienced tester you must know what thing causes the error. For e.g. if you face an error ‘System.OutOfMemoryException’ you should know it can be fixed by making some memory space available where the files are being physically stored.

OPTION 2: Expert soft skills, communication skills

If you can communicate well with the client and internally with upper management, that is always going to be a plus point for you within your organization.

Your company will not be too willing to replace someone that their clients are comfortable conversing with and will always keep you ahead of your competition.

Being a senior resource you should learn how to make your word understandable to all, you need to deliver your verbal plus written communication understandable by all users. May it be junior resources or a client who has no or less idea about the tech terms.

If you are writing a test plan or test cases or even reporting a bug, the description and steps should be so easy and be understanding that in future if a new QA is added to the team they can execute it with less or no assistance.

OPTION 3: Master in your domain

What is a domain? It’s just the industry in which we are testing the application.

This option is for my fellow testers who are testing a product over a client project. The domains such as Insurance, Title and Mortgage, Banking, ERP, Travel, Auto trading, Media channel ratings, Job board, Security products and so many more.

The latest domain is the blockchain and Bitcoin, they are rapidly growing and companies are eagerly looking for people having experience of this domain.

To become a domain expert you must know inside-out, workflows, business knowledge, and technical terminologies of the domain. This is the field where the senior or experienced tester is always preferred.

Let’s take an example of the banking sector which is the most vulnerable domain because it contains highly secure data of the users, their hard earned money. In this domain, you have to master other platforms too as most of the applications are built on mainframes or UNIX and with the platform testing you need to know hardware testing too.

For example, if you are testing an ATM machine and its functionality, you have to test some of its hardware functionalities too. The company or the manager won’t prefer a junior tester over it and will be requiring some experienced tester to give the final QA Pass verdict.

OPTION 4: Leadership skills

Leaders can never be replaced. Your technical skills might not be what your company requires right now, but they will never be able to find the set of leadership skills that you have gained through years of experience. They are always going to need leaders in the organization and who better to lead a team of fresh individuals and teach them the culture and vision of the company than someone who has been with the company for many years.

Even new organizations would welcome senior testers who can lead a team well as they need people who are confident and can speak well with clients with a lot of confidence. Try to show your leadership skills in the interview highlighting how did you suggest a change that overcomes a complex challenge company was facing. A good HR (no offense to HR fellows) will see the spark in you during an interview.

If you already are employed and possess great leadership skills, in case of downsizing your company won’t let you go because they know your capability and how you can influence others.

OPTION 5: Be an inspirer, convincer

This option lies in your soft skills, communication skills.

Being a senior QA member you’ve to create an image of yourself which everybody wants to follow. You’ve to highlight your qualities in front of your junior resources or anyone around you.

You can highlight your qualities in the day to day routine. Like you listen to your resource, fix his/her problems whether personal or professional, guide them on how they can progress in the field and support them on dealing external pressure (from the developer or the client). You can be a very good manager / lead knowing how to handle your resource and their work. You can be a very good tester / QA having knowledge of manual and automated testing. All these things are inspirable.

Convincer – This is the thing a QA must possess. You should have the convincing ability to tell the business owner about an invalid requirement/change or a bug you’ve reported. If you are not a convincer your work will start getting to be overlooked until it’s a genuine bug that can be seen clearly.

You have to learn on convincing your views. For example, if you have suggested load testing of the application using a paid software. Why should the company buy the software when there are so many open source tools available? You have to convince them by conducting a market study and prepare a POC or a comparison document which will highlight the capabilities the paid software can do and how it is following all the requirements which are needed.

OPTION 6: Risk analyzer

Another skill that only comes with experience is to analyze and foresee upcoming risks. Freshers can possibly learn a technical skill as good as you can, however, they will never be able to determine the risks involved with the approach that they have taken. Most of the time, those risks are costly and organizations are not too willing to bear those costs at the expense of saving money on replacing senior resources.

However, as a senior tester, the responsibility falls on you to keep sharing those upcoming risks with your project lead or project manager so they are aware that there is someone in the team who is on top of things as far as risks are involved.

OPTION 7: Learn new technology (Mobile apps testing, cloud computing, web services)

If you are a conventional manual tester and have not given the opportunity to explore other testing platforms, be a self-explorer. Most of the applications are having a mobile app now. Learn how to test a mobile app, what are the rules and how is it different from web/desktop testing. But a junior tester can perform mobile app testing too, don’t worry about that it’s for your personal growth and you can be benefited by this skill in your current company.

Cloud computing and testing of cloud-based application is a thing you should definitely explore. Learn about cloud computing and how it’s testing can be done and master in its domain.

Webservice testing can be explored too. A web service in simple words is a layer by which a human and a machine communicate i.e you request an operation and a response it provided against it. A WSDL (Web Services Description Language) describes all operations available in a web service in XML format.

You can learn manual and automated testing of a web service. Learning web service testing can benefit you with load testing of the application. JMeter provides you the ability to load test your web services.

OPTION 8: Customer Support

Not many people are willing to provide support to customers especially during off hours. Freshers may be willing to do this too but they will not have the communication skills or experience to deal with such issues where customers need to be guided very carefully while their problems are solved.

In most cases, they need to be convinced to be satisfied with alternate solutions until a proper solution is rolled out and believe me, this is never an easy task.

OPTION 9: Setup Continuous Integration

What is a CI? It’s a development approach, a process in which the code is deployed more than one time in a day. The build is automatic (using tools such as Codeship, TravisCI, Jenkins or many others) and unit tests and automated test scripts are required to be written which is verified automatically. A key benefit of this approach is early bug detection.

Integration and automated testing play an important part for testers here.

Continuous integration is an aspect that will keep you one step ahead of fresher’s working on the same set of automation scripts as you are. While they are working on scripts, you can think one step ahead and configure the CI tools being used within the organization so that whenever a developer checks in their work into the repository, the tests are written by the QA team are executed so that until all tests pass, the work done by the developer will not be accepted. This also keeps developers on their toes.

OPTION 10: Security / Penetration testing

With the increase of applications and data migrating towards cloud environment, security testing becomes highly demanding. Many companies think it’s not compulsory as they are a small organization. Let me tell you everyone needs a security policy as the internet is not a safe place and you are always vulnerable.

Penetration testing can help identify all the vulnerabilities of a network or applications. It helps in identifying any loopholes, leaks by which sensitive data can be compromised and manipulated. It prevents cybersecurity hacks too.

Explore the security testing field, learn how to do it manually and with the available tools. Learn about ethical hacking. How you can crack or hijack into a secure system. Start from the basics like SQL injection.

Often companies hire a third party to perform penetration/security testing. If you can master yourself in this skillset you are contributing a lot towards the company in minimizing the cost and also keeping application related private data inside the company.

According to recent research on top trending jobs in 2017/18, Penetration testing is considered one of them.

OPTION 11: Shift towards BA / PM

If you are good at managing the work, you can always shift towards project management. If not a senior QA a project manager is definitely required to manage the project especially large projects.

Learn the business analyst skills and you can become a BA too. Taking requirements from the client and presenting it to the in-house team in a manner they will be implemented.

OPTION 12: Stop being a bully

If you are an experienced tester you will often hear ‘Oh you are an experienced tester, you can manage and deliver in a day or within hours’. Well Yes! I am an experienced quality assurer / experienced tester but you have to be practical. This work can’t be done in an eye blink. Pushback. Just for the sake of your experience don’t over commit which can’t be possible within the working hours. This varies from project to project. Often the business forces to deliver the product within hours.

You must have also heard them saying ‘you are an experienced tester and the product quality is so bad, what benefit we are getting from your experience’. This is a tricky accusation, first, you need to be calm and then answer. If it’s genuinely your mistake then you need to apologize and convince them the mistake will not be repeated. But but but! If it’s just an accusation you have all the rights to answer back and clear.

Conclusion

Quality is becoming part of each organization irrespective of you being a fresh pass out or an experienced tester software testing field will keep on growing. With the growing demands, I have shared many points you can follow to promote your experience in a long run.

Let’s share and hear from you, your experiences and how did you cope with it.  It’s a tester’s community, let us all connect and broaden our horizon from all over the world.

About the author

Aisha Mazhar author

5 Comments

srinivask

February 21, 2018 at 6:54 am

HI, i am manual tester with 8+ expr now job less from past 4 months how to learn API testing @home using net, suggest me some good faq sites for API testing and how to get a call for my CV , what i have to do get a job immediately at least contract job

Subodh

March 2, 2018 at 6:02 pm

Thanks Nandini for beautiful post.

Srividya Karuppaiyan

April 10, 2018 at 1:21 pm

Well said Nandhini..Keep posting like this to explore our knowledge! 🙂

Anonymous

June 21, 2018 at 1:23 pm

Nice article. Thanks

Anonymous

July 25, 2018 at 12:55 pm

Well said Nandhini..Keep posting like this to explore our knowledge!

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