10 Questions You Were Afraid to Ask About QA Work
Vasylyna Bryhadyr is a skilled team leader and talented QA (quality assurance) engineer who has worked at Forte Group for more than four years. Vasylyna’s career in QA began when she took a Forte Knowledge course. Now, she teaches the same QA course at Forte Group’s Ternopil office.
We sat down with Vasylyna to ask her about her experience in world of quality assurance and testing, as well as top questions from the tech community, such as how to become a QA analyst and why QA is so important in the software development process. How she has navigated her career path from a junior analyst to a senior-level leader in the field?
So, let’s start!
1. Why did you choose software testing as a career? What drew you to quality assurance?
Well, it all started more than four years ago when my fellow students told me about a software testing course held by Forte Group. At that time, I was in my last year of study and worked in the education field. I wasn’t really into IT but believed that the course would be a good opportunity to learn something new, plus dress up my CV with some additional skills.
But within just a few classes of training, I realized that software testing and quality assurance could become more than just a side activity. I’ve always wanted to work in an evolving, dynamic climate and face new challenges. QA gives me all of this.
2. In your opinion, what is quality assurance? Why is it important?
QA is a set of processes that helps ensure that you deliver a high-quality product to your customer. As a security expert, you need to define whether the software meets quality standards and quality criteria or whether the software fulfills the customers’ needs. Customer satisfaction is vital for any organization. When customers are happy about your product or service, your company is in a great position to succeed.
QA helps organizations understand whether they provide their customers with the kinds of products or services that will keep them coming back for more. Our processes help us deliver products and services that achieve a consistent level of high quality and functionality. The ultimate result is better, more adaptable software that users enjoy.
3. What does a typical day look like for a QA engineer? What are their main responsibilities?
A typical working day can differ a bit, depending on what stage you’re at in software development. It can also vary based on the engineer’s role within the project. Generally, a typical day can look like this: checking my inbox, planning my activities for the day, then drinking some morning coffee with my teammates. After that, we get to work reviewing documents, creating test cases or other test records, running multiple tests, and opening or closing defects.
Then, it’s our job to provide different reports and updates to the project’s team. There is always a lot of contact between QA team members, product managers, developers, and others on the team. It’s a bunch of emails, calls, and messages to stay in close contact. So, yeah, a typical day of a QA engineer can be pretty packed.
4. What parts of your job are the most creative?
From the outside, it may seem like QA is a routine field that doesn’t require a lot of creativity. I don’t feel that way at all. As a QA engineer, it’s your job to verify that the software is working in the way it’s expected to work. Being analytical and creative is essential to our work. You must be inventive and create test cases for the software.
Software standards and design mock-ups usually don’t cover all possible instances of how the end-user will interact with the software. So, you need to put yourself in the mind of the end-user, including each user’s uniqueness and their personal approach to engaging with the product. Also, you can exercise your creativity while reporting test results, making visuals to show any defects, which provides developers with the clearest possible data.
5. How would you make testing and quality assurance better, easier, and more effective? Have you done this before with an organization?
First, I would make sure that adequate business training is given to the QA teams because it’s difficult to provide a good QA service when you don’t understand the business you are working for or its customers. To provide superior service, you must understand the context of what you’re building and the audience.
One way to make QA more effective is to eliminate any bottlenecks on the project. Many projects fail on a project discussion stage, not due to some technical setup or some technical issues. Communication across team’s within the product is essential to the product being successful.
Some other rules that I would follow to improve QA: Don’t skip planning (plan your work) and always work on improving your processes.
6. What is the difference between QA and QC (quality control)?
To answer this QA question, I would emphasize that quality control is more about defect detection and elimination in the actual products produced. It’s a reactive process when you must deal with issues post-factum after they have been already introduced. QA is more about defect avoidance and managing development in test processes in such a way that many issues will never appear. QA is a proactive process that requires a deeper level of expertise, broader experience, and product vision.
7. QA engineers are often checking the work of software engineers. Does this ever create tension between the two groups? What’s the best working environment for each to be successful? Describe the ideal developer with whom it will be easier for you to communicate?
As a QA engineer, I know how it is to get frustrated with developers. So usually this frustration resolves itself when the different priorities of teams are aligned. A developer’s focus might be code delivery, while QA teams care more about finding various bugs and defects.
In such a scenario, developers can get judged for every minor mistake. Once a developer finishes writing their code, it’s QA’s job to look for errors. Naturally, this can sometimes create an adversarial environment between developers and QA. From my experience, this is a recipe for a toxic and unproductive environment.
When developers and QA share a common goal of delivering a high-quality product to customers, this tension usually goes away. Both roles work best when they work as a team, rather than seeing the other side as the enemy. That kind of collaborative environment is a much more enjoyable way to work and always produces a better result for everyone involved.
8. Many companies require a higher level of English from QA analysts than from software developers. Why do you think that is?
If you’re working in QA, you need to talk with a lot of different team members, work closely with varying records of project, and produce a lot of test documents. These tasks require that you be an excellent communicator, most often in English. Fluency is less critical for junior QA positions, but when you grow into more senior roles, a higher level of English is a must.
9. In your opinion, what makes for a good QA engineer?
As a QA engineer, you should be technically skilled and knowledgeable about your working domain. Also, excellent analytical and communication skills are what separate a good QA engineer from a great one. You should be able to not only test the product but analyze a test outcome and communicate it to the right people at the right time in an effective way.
With lots of tests to manage, analyze, and communicate simultaneously, a good QA specialist must be able to adopt, manage their time well, and multitask. They should know the value of performance and that “perfect” is the enemy of “good.” A skilled QA engineer doesn’t wait for some magic to make everything run smoother. Instead, they can take initiative and improve collaboration across the team themselves.
10. What are your recommendations (useful tips) for the QA beginners?
Don’t fulfill tasks blindly. Try to understand how things work. Don’t be afraid to ask your fellow QA engineers questions. Take part and communicate. Write detailed bug reports. A few months later, you might have no idea what your “only-three-words-long” report was all about. Never stop exploring, getting new knowledge and learning new skills! If quality assurance sounds like an interesting career and you want to learn more, I’d recommend checking out one of our Forte Knowledge courses. If your experience is like mine, you might find that QA is more than you might expect.