Interview Questions

A good software tester should Tolerance Chaos

To be a good software tester

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5. A good software tester should Tolerance Chaos

Tolerance for Chaos.
People react to chaos and uncertainty in different ways. Some cave in and give up while others try to create order out of chaos. If the tester waits for all issues to be fully resolved before starting test design or testing, she won't get started until after the software has been shipped. Testers have to be flexible and be able to drop things when blocked and move on to another thing that's not blocked. Testers always have many (unfinished) irons in the fire. In this respect, good testers differ from programmers. A compulsive need to achieve closure is not a bad attribute in a programmer-certainly serves them well in debugging-in testing, it means nothing gets finished. The testers' world is inherently more chaotic than the programmers'.

A good indicator of the kind of skill we arelooking for here is the ability to do crossword puzzles in ink. This skill, research has shown, also correlates well with programmer and tester aptitude. This skill is very similar to the kind of unresolved chaos with which the tester must daily deal. Here's the theory behind the notion. If you do a crossword puzzle in ink, you can't put down a word, or even part of a word, until you have confirmed it by a compatible cross-word. So you keep a dozen tentative entries unmarked and when by some process or another, you realize that there is a compatible cross-word, you enter them both. You keep score by how many corrections you have to make-not by merely finishing the puzzle, because that's a given. I've done many informal polls of this aptitude at my seminars and found a much higher percentage of crossword-puzzles-in-ink afficionados than you'd get in a normal population.

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