I have been working as a QA engineer since I was 22, and now I’m 34. I’ve seen lots of other junior QA engineers throughout my career, and I’ve learned from their mistakes so that you don’t have to. I will explain the seven worst mistakes that junior QA engineers make and how to avoid them all!
1) Not Being Proactive Enough
The first common mistake that junior QA engineers make is not being proactive enough. By definition, quality assurance is all about preventing defects from reaching the customer. In order to do that, you have to be constantly on the lookout for potential problems.
That means being proactive about finding and fixing issues before they become serious enough to impact the user experience. That means you have to constantly communicate with others. The QA engineer can’t just be sitting quietly— otherwise, they won't keep their job for long!
2) Failing to Read the Specification
The second, and arguably most critical, mistake that junior QA engineers make is failing to read the specification. By not reading the specification, junior QA engineers are essentially flying blind. They don't know what the product is supposed to do, so they can't possibly know if it's doing it correctly. This leads to all sorts of problems down the line.
To be a good engineer, you need to know your product better than others do. And you can’t know everything you need to unless you read the specs first.
3) Not Following Up with Your Manager
One of the worst things you can do as a junior QA engineer is to not follow up with your manager. This is a huge mistake because it shows that you're not interested in the project or that you're not taking your job seriously. By not following up, you're also missing out on valuable feedback that could help you improve your work.
Having a good relationship with your manager is key, and getting constant feedback will help you become a manager in the future as well. Learn from good managers, and from the bad ones too. That way you’ll know how to be a good one when it's your time.
4) Not Writing Tests
One of the most important parts of a QA engineer's job is writing tests. If you're not writing tests, you're not doing your job. Not only that, but you're also putting the company at risk of delivering a bad and not well-tested product. For instance, if you rely on ad-hoc testing and do not run any functional or negative test suits consistently, you will end up with buggy software. As a result, your team will be responsible when it's time to report to stakeholders.
In short, writing tests is a QA engineer's number one priority. If you’re not writing tests, you’re not doing your job as a junior QA engineer. Writing a test means you're making your product stable and able to hold its market in the future. It also helps new developers understand and build upon functionalities already established by previous engineers on different feature sets of a product.
5) Over-Reliance on Tools and Not Testing By Hand
One of the most common mistakes that junior QA engineers make is over-reliance on tools. It's important to have a good understanding of how your testing tools work, but relying too heavily on them can lead to problems.
Not testing by hand is another common mistake. While automation is important, it's also essential to test things manually to get a better understanding of how they work.
The first step should always be to take an in-depth look at what you're trying to automate and then develop scripts accordingly. Remember, there are two types of testers: manual and automated. The first tests are usually responsible for basic checks while the full automated suits check complex systems and the stability of the system overall.
6) Not Doing Peer Reviews
As a junior QA engineer, it’s very important that you participate in peer reviews. By doing so, you can learn from the mistakes of others and avoid making them yourself. Additionally, you can build relationships with your fellow engineers and gain their trust. Plus, no one wants to work with someone who does not contribute to the team.
So, never skip those meetings and try to always come prepared. Write your questions, comments, and observations down in advance and bring them in!
7) Poor Communication Skills
Not trying to improve poor communication skills is one of the worst mistakes a junior QA engineer can make. Communication is key in any job, but it’s especially important in quality assurance. If you can't communicate effectively, you'll have a hard time doing your job well. Here are some tips for improving your communication skills:
1. Listen more than you talk.
2. Ask questions when you're unsure of something.
3. Repeat back what you've heard to ensure understanding.
4. Be clear and concise in your own explanations.
5. Avoid using jargon or technical terms that others might not understand.
6. Use active listening techniques such as making eye contact and nodding your head to show that you're engaged in the conversation.
So, being a good QA Engineer means that....
You need to be able to think like a user. What are they going to do with your product? How are they going to break it?
At the same time, you need to be able to think like a developer. What are the edge cases? What are the most likely places for bugs?
Also, you need to be organized and have a strong attention to detail. A good QA Engineer catches things that others would miss.
And finally, you need to be patient. Debugging can be frustrating, but it's important not to give up!
Good luck with your new career!