Does your QA tester need to be an industry specialist?

Picture of Brian Borg
Posted by Brian Borg

If you need a QA tester who’s an industry specialist, you might be looking for a unicorn.

Elusive magical creatures with specific experience that will sprinkle rainbow dust over your software, and offer all the solutions. That’s the dream.

So when you’re in the market for a QA tester, shouldn’t you always be on the lookout for a unicorn? Isn’t an industry specialist with years of experience the best way to go?

Well, maybe not.

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Take a broader perspective

If you wanted some carpentry doing for your new kitchen, you’d want someone who specialized in kitchen carpentry, right?

Well, not necessarily - after all, there might be a limited number of carpenters with kitchen experience in your area. And, there might be a well-priced master carpenter nearby with no kitchen experience who will do a brilliant job. The point is, specialization is desirable, but it’s only a part of the story.

Yes, QA testers that are familiar with your industry and the tools you use will get up to speed that much quicker. They’ll also have the eye to spot details that might be missed by the less experienced tester, or perhaps someone with great QA skills but unfamiliar with your industry.

However, when choosing a QA tester you'll want to look at things more holistically. According to the Ministry of Testing, the three things to watch for are skill, experience and positive attributes.


Skill refers to what you’d see on a job ad looking for a QA tester. This could be things like the ability to create in-depth bug reports, writing up a detailed test plan or programming ability. It’s the technical aspects of the role. The more of these skills, the better.


This is the most desirable part of the industry specialist tester. It’s how familiar they are with your industry or particular vertical that you’re testing in. For more specialized sectors, like biotech or aerospace, this can rank higher on the list.

The intersection of skill and experience is a magical zone - it’s where the ability to find bugs that less skilled engineers miss is surfaced. Keep in mind that more skill can fill the gap for lesser experience, and sometimes more experience can blind a tester with assumptions, which leads to a missed bug.

Positive attributes

These are the ones that can sound a little cliché at times but are vitally important. It’s the words like ‘passionate’, ‘motivated’, ‘punctual’ that are littered through job ads. These can sometimes be overlooked as valuable traits in favour of experience, but don’t skip past them.

A better approach

With all that said, the testing unicorn with industry experience and a deep skillset will score exceptionally well in the knowledge area, and if you're lucky, they will excel in all the other areas too. It’s the perfect scenario.

But is it realistic? Probably not.

That’s because hiring based on experience alone might not result in a well-rounded hire. Sure, they might be able to give you some highly-technical bug reports and know the sector well, but there’s another part to this story.

Trust the workhorses

Spending all your time chasing unicorns may lead to you missing out. In such a complex practice like QA testing, you’re rarely going to find someone with industry experience that ticks all of your boxes right off the bat. But you’ll most likely find someone who’s got other (often, more important) strengths and who is also willing to learn.

It’s crucial to find a candidate with the right mindset - someone who understands the goals of the project, is flexible with the changing needs of the development cycle, and most importantly, is prepared to go the extra mile to give you their best work. Value engineers that provide solid, consistent results with good communication over someone who strives to be the hero but may be unreliable in other ways.

There’s always going to be a trade-off between cost and quality, but the right QA tester or QA testing service will probably be the one that’s able to adapt to your working style and willing to do the difficult work.

So you shouldn’t disregard the proven workhorse for the sake of the colorful, sparkly unicorn.

Tailored QA testing

In the ever-changing digital landscape, there’s a lot of scope for finding a tester that’s right for your project. You don’t need to hunt for unicorn candidates with unrealistic qualifications.

At OnPath Testing, we’ve planned over 100,000 tests and executed over a million. With 50+ years of combined experience, we’ve been setting the standards for a remote QA testing experiences. We’ll get the job done and care for you every step of the way.

Whether you have specific questions about what we can do for you – or just want to learn more about QA testing – we’d love to talk.

Contact us today.

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