What I expect from my testers

As a manager of testers I got a question, what is the difference between seniority levels. So I tried to make my expectations for different roles explicit. Well, at least as much as I can.

This is not a full list, it is more like a guideline. A tool for discussion.
Everyone has their own expectations depending on background, personality, role, project, etc.

! = Very important
+ = Important, but the extent is very much dependent on role/personality/project/area
Junior Tester

Eagerly learning to be regarded as ‘Tester’.


Project related – in own area(s):

! Knows the details of important ‘known’ bugs – without looking into bug-tracking system
! Knows the details of ‘Seen once’ bugs with really bad results
! Knows the functionality and its dependencies in detail
+ Can quickly draw (and explain) the model of the functionality
+ Has overview of how it is implemented – technologies used, etc.
! Knows why is the area/functionality important – for different stakeholders
! Has the overview of what has been changed in the last 2-3 builds/versions – without looking into release notes
! Knows what, and how deeply, has been tested, and what else should/could be done
! Able to roughly estimate how many sessions would be needed to be reasonably sure specific change/feature is “ok”
! Knows where are the specifications and how up-to-date they are. And how to use them.

Project related – in general:

+  Knows – what makes it special, users, selling points, etc.
! General status – very important bugs, general features, testing areas
! Schedule – deadlines,phases etc.
+ Stakeholders – Project Manager, Main developers, Team leads, etc.

Techical skills:

! Able to ‘read’ and ‘(bulk) analyze’ logs
! Able to use tools relevant to project/company
+ Knows generally the underlying technologies used in company


! Self management – what is going on today, tomorrow and next week. (blocked, shelved, etc.)
! Willing to learn (Blogs, paired-testing, asking questions, analyzing self, etc.)
! Good session reports and timely debriefing
! Teamwork with testers and developers, able to speak freely
+ Knows generally different software development life-cycles, the pros and cons
+ Critical thinking – questioning assumptions, authorities, specifications, etc.


Able to, in 6 of 10 (the rest are expected to be ‘wrong’ but not critically so):

! choose the best test (design) technique(s)/heuristic(s) – and explain during debriefing ‘why’
! stop ‘bug-hunting/deep dive’ at appropriate time
! Notify others of possible ‘important problem’ at appropriate time
! Report bugs as good as possible

Able to:

! Analyze specification to get understanding of area/functionality (and give feedback)
! Note peculiarities in product behavior, and feelings in self while testing
! explain why something was tested the way it was
! What kind of heuristics were used and why
! Give status report of own area (problems, going-on, etc.)
+ explain the pros and cons of most used testing techniques

Senior Tester

Similar to ‘Tester’, but

Deeper, more detailed knowledge of more areas.
Better overview of all bugs, not just own areas
Better estimates in needed effort – in regards to changes in area/features

Project related:

! Able to analyze impact of changes in own area(s)
! Able to estimate needed equipment/test data/etc. for testing
+ Good understanding of project domain, similar producs, and future
+ Very good understanding of development team – who is doing what

Testing 9 of 10, and in addition to ‘Tester’:

! Able to combine test techniques and heuristics and explain why
! Able to explain most testing techniques, approaches, ideas, heuristics, etc.
+ Able to critically analyze Feature Specification Description (FSD) and give constructive feedback
! Able to timely forward (and follow up) questions to right people (Spec, bugs, etc.)
+ Clearly, concretly, quickly talk about testing, own areas, general status, etc.
+ Able to be in ‘guiding role’ in paired-testing
+ Good understading of ‘Debriefing role’ in SBTM, able to debrief
! Very good understanding of bug lifecycle – all the possible variations


+ Very clear understanding of software development methodologies/lifecycles – and testing role in them
! Very clear view of own tasks – like personal ‘scrum wall’
! Ability to clearly (and quickly) give overview of own tasks/status/problems/outlook
! Critical thinking, independance, ability to investigate, abilty to argument/underpin opinions
+ Abilty and willingness to explain/teach testing – share experience, guide, investigate, invent, dream
+ Initiative to take on new tasks/try out new ideas (and follow them through)

Test Lead role not completed yet, will add when it is done.


4 thoughts on “What I expect from my testers

  1. I have a problem to know the bugs in details. That’s why i need to do my work. There are so many relations in the bugs that it’s too much to think or expect from any human being to remember those details. That’s why we have external memory devices to help us out.

    • Yes, at least in my context.
      Ability to use a scripting language (or excel) is not necessary by itself, as it can very difficult to say what ‘level’ would be needed. But saying that being able to (bulk) analyze logs is much more concrete for me. I does not matter what one uses for it, as long as the ‘technical’ side – filtering, statistics, etc. – is handled. Making correct conjectures from the data is a testing skill.

      Overall, I find that ‘technical skills’ – ability to read source code (to some extent at least), set up Wireshark (or other analysis tools), use multimeter or oscilloscope – these are all important, but are also so dependent on context I didn’t want to list them here. I’ve mentioned tools and underlying technologies elsewhere anyway, so that cover some of these for me.

  2. Pingback: Great Resources | Upskilling 4 Testers

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