Good testers look behind the screen

The other week I found myself in an exquisite room with a group of like minded testers talking about testing. Exploratory Testing to be precise.

I’m not sure whether I’m allowed to spill the beans on why we were all there, so I wont..just in case.

Suffice to say though I was with some of the most interesting minds in the UK with reference to Testing. Throughout the day I jotted notes and took away a tonne of actions and things to research, but one statement from Steve Green (of Test Partners fame) really struck a chord with me.

We were talking about hiring testers and what traits/skills a good exploratory tester has.

Steve gave a great example of how many testers he meets are stuck looking at the screen and running tests to check/verify/test the capabilities and elements they can see on the screen. This is fine, for some.

For Steve though, he looks deeper than this.

He prefers people who look at the screen and then beyond it.

Behind it, under it, away from it.


For example, what happens to the overall system when I click X?

How is Y working?

What happens if I tweak Z?

I thought about this comment a lot and wondered whether this was actually an example of the difference between Black and White (or pink, grey, blue, tangerine, Alizarin crimson, black olive or …) box testing.

However, I think it runs deeper than this. I think that looking behind the screen is more about curiosity and intrigue (and therefore great testing?) than it is knowing about what the internal system should do.

It made me think hard about the different traits we all look for in a Tester and the words we use to describe these testers.

It was an illuminating day. I learned a lot.