Blog   I want to hire QA engineer: skills, qualifications, roles

I want to hire QA engineer: skills, qualifications, roles

By Yana Andyol

When you come up with a product that needs testing, the goal to find the right QA engineer might become a challenge. Traditional software testing process is often misunderstood while the “QA persona” remains mysterious. That`s why the choice of QA specialist is merely not obvious, as the list of competencies differs.

Why is that so complicated? Since a dynamic IT area involves the projects of different complexity and requirements, there are no universal means to find a specialist.
But don`t get frustrated. Our team decided to collect the set of skills required for manual QA, automation engineer, and QA lead. The recommendations will not set precise requirements for each, yet they might become a useful background for your further search.

Manual QA

Let`s make it simple: manual QA specialist tests the software for defects without the use of automated tools. The task here is to take an end-user perspective to evaluate the product. By interacting with the software, manual tester compares the quality expectations with the outcomes and provides feedback on the bugs found. In fact, you may need a QA engineer to identify the errors that might aggravate the experience of the software use before the release.

When searching for a manual QA to join your project team, there is a range of skills to pay attention to. You remember it`s not a generally accepted list of the skills required, the choice of a candidate is merely individual and depends on the project specifics. However, we provide you with some of the integral abilities and competencies manual QA should possess:

  • Test documentation knowledge: checklists, bug reports, test cases
  • Experience with Bug Tracking Systems
  • The use of Test Management Tools
  • Strong knowledge of software testing types and the ways to apply them
  • User-focus: as manual QA designs real-time scenarios, the task is to step into the shoes of an end user to get the software product purpose and the value it delivers to the customer
  • Analytical mindset: to define the strengths and weaknesses of the software system, validate it against different working scenarios, analyze system behavior, and detect errors if any
  • Knowledge of the software development methodologies and the ability to integrate with the models (e.g. Agile, Waterfall)

The feedback provided by a manual tester is close to the sort of feedback you might get from the customer, and that`s what makes manual QA so valuable.

QA Automation Engineer

Their path in software testing is different. They write and design tests with the predefined actions that occur in any software (e.g. repeated functions). With the help of script writing, they run the tests to evaluate product quality, thus comparing it with the requirements. Automation scripts point out the defects. But there are cases when the system detects no errors and therefore confirms software smooth functioning.
This way, the role of a QA engineer is to optimize resource-consuming manual tests and, therefore, streamline the whole quality assurance strategy.
These are the necessary skills required for a QA automation engineer:

  • Coding: a background in common programming languages* is needed to automate testing processes.
    (*Note that there is no need to search for a QA specialist with a particular background, the autotests might be based on a language different from the software code).
  • Experience in manual testing: the scripts written by automation engineers are based on the test cases created by manual QA specialists.
  • Experience with development frameworks & tools for automation testing
  • Understanding of the SDLC methodologies: as automation QAs work primarily in Agile, they know how to integrate automated testing process within the model. The ability to differentiate test-driven (TDD) vs. behavior-driven development (BDD) adds value to a QA automation experience as well.

Automated quality assurance can get pricey because of the tools and complexity, but scripts are thorough in catching the bugs regardless of the task volume.

QA Lead

These guys take broader responsibility to make the project meet the requirements. They establish metrics, coordinate team members, design test programs, while communication with the clients, and delivery management becomes a part of their routine. QA leads use their experience to identify which of the test types is better to apply for a particular case, although they might specialize either in manual or automation testing.

In addition to the skills of a QA engineer, QA lead:

  • has a profound knowledge of testing approaches. They`re aware of the methods & tools, keep up to date with the trends and technologies in the area.
  • is business-oriented. Test strategy and goals determined by QA lead always fit the initial project requirements. It is crucial for a manager to understand business objectives, clearly communicate client needs to deliver the software product of expected quality.
  • uses Project Management tools.

In fact, they are strong team-leaders: resource management, project test planning, task division, people coordination are the skills that make sure the testing strategy is completed effectively and on time.

Non-Technical Skills

Along with the tech skills and profound expertise in software QA, the engineers are to possess a set of soft skills to build the relationships within the team, communicate with developers, clients, and product owners. We`ve asked our HR specialists about some of the qualities they pay attention to when choosing the right candidate for our QA team. Here they are:

Accuracy & precision. For sure, this is a prior quality for a person who is aimed at delivering QA services. Objective evaluation of the software and the ability to come up with the improvement recommendations remain the focus for the candidates who apply to the position.

The knack to learn new. Tech progress is what keeps QA testing job exciting. And it means a non-stop education for QA engineers. To keep up with the latest QA strategies, programming languages, testing methods & tools is sometimes uneasy yet compulsory task for the QA specialists we hire.

Effective teamwork. Working on the project means constant interaction with the QA team members, developers, clients, stakeholders. Communication is the critical way for a tester to achieve mutual understanding of the project requirements, synchronize with the development, and build an effective QA strategy as a result. This is about the ability to clearly express the opinion in the way different project members (technical and non-technical) would understand.

Self-organization. While junior QA works under supervision, it is essential for middle & senior QA to prioritize the test task execution and modify their working plan to fit the process.

Flexibility. IT project is a dynamic environment where the plan undergoes constant modifications. Original requirements are replaced with the new, a timeline is adjusted, a previously closed case needs another round of testing. These are the conditions a QA engineer must be able to adapt to, adjust to the changes in the workflow, remain resistant to stressful situations.

You may go into a freelance search or have a contract with a software testing company to find a perfect match for your project. We hope the knowledge and skills we outlined will serve as a background for your search. Mix them with the specific requirements you need for a tester to achieve product success. After all, the task of a QA engineer to catch the defects before they become issues.
Best of luck with your projects!

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