A day in the life of an IT automation tester – interview

Our colleague, Jozef, has been part of the testing team for ten years. Like most of the talented colleagues we have the opportunity to work with at msg life Slovakia, he also went through training before he found himself in automated testing. Read more about his typical day, but also how he got into testing, what the testing job involves, and what automated testing actually is.

You work as automation tester.. What does your day look like? Is there anything specific or unusual in it?

First of all, it depends on what the situation is on the projects and what stage they are in. But I guess any tester here will tell you that. I usually start the day by checking what the current status of the tests is. I am responsible for the automated test, that means, I check the test results when I arrive at work. I’m finding out if the tests ran at all, and if they didn’t, I’m looking for the cause. This is my first task.

If I find out that there are technical problems, whatever the reason – it could be a network connection problem, sometimes it’s a full disk capacity problem – then I remove the technical cause and run the tests again. If the tests run, my job is to analyze the results. Also the analysis is largely automated in our company, the results are entered into a database assigned to the project. Our job is then to read and evaluate the specific results correctly and independently. We test whenever there are changes in the code. We always compare the results of the analysis with previous outputs to see if bugs have appeared in earlier tests. In the database, we assign bugs to known or new issues. On the second day, further regression tests are run. We test to see if a change in the code had an unintended impact on features or created a bug elsewhere. The software tester’s day also consists of having various meetings. Either with customers or within projects. For example, day-to-day calls and updating statuses of tasks. Into this usually come requests from colleagues when they need help, or brainstorming sessions to move projects forward.

What does automated testing actually mean ? What about human input into testing?

Automated tests converge at night, at 10:00 pm, when people are at home. So when the tester arrives at work, most of the time the results are already available. That’s that initial check. Then when the results are entered into the database, we have our internal company tool for that. It compares the current results with the previous ones. If it finds a match, the same error or anything unwanted, I can see in the database that the error is known and I don’t have to bother with it – it’s already waiting to be fixed.

If I find new bugs, I create issue tickets in Jira for developers and push issues to be resolved. So I use automation to detect errors faster, my human input is to prioritize relevance of those errors and then delegate them.

The automated test actually does the same thing as the manual test, I just don’t have to manually click it. But the input has to come from people who know the specification of the feature so that we know what to test. Mostly IT tester consultant.

You are an IT specialist for automated testing. What is the difference between your job and an IT tester consultant job?

We call IT testers consultants fachtesters. These are the ones who understand testing professionally from an insurance perspective. They know what the client expects, they have experience with insurance information systems and products. Depending on his experience or client’s requirements, a technician may contact us with the fact that a specific functionality is missing in the UI system. We are responsible for making sure that the functionality technically works as it should and is available. However, we may also find that the requested functionality is missing from the code. We then escalate the request to the development team. The java developers code it, integrate it and we then test it with evening tests.

it automation testers line up behind the desk at the monitors
Manual testers, automation testers and programmers work together.

You’re probably not in the office by then. Do you have to check tests from home?

No, we have normal working hours. Tests are automatically set, scheduled for 22:00. It’s kind of a prep for the next day. One day I set the tests for the evening, the next morning I have the data ready to work with. The job of an IT tester is built on getting and analyzing data. Automation is a tool to get them more efficiently.

You mentioned the internal tool you use to compare test results. Do you also develop this tool, do you have any influence on its functionality? And wouldn’t it be easier to use a market solution instead of developing your own tool?

We tried to test market solutions, but in the end nothing suited us. So we created an in-house tool. We use a tool/program developed by us, which is built on Java. But normally testers don’t interfere in the code of the program. It is developed and maintained by a dedicated team of developers. The testers explicitly take care of the functional side.

We are testing what an insurance worker does. So we are simulating the work of someone in the branch.

The tests are run at night, they run in Jenkins where we have different “pipelines” and different deployments take place. If the integration is successful during the day, it is installed in different environments, such as Windows or Linux, depending on the types of databases on the system. Then the tests will start there.

Your job sounds pretty technical. Tell us something from your work history. How did you get into msg life Slovakia? Did you have previous experience in the IT sphere?

Probably the only condition I had before I joined was that I knew German. Candidates should be at a higher communication level. It doesn’t have to be translation skills, of course, but a conversational level where you can understand and explain everything necessary for the job. But IT testing was a completely different industry for me. I’m not even a studied IT-guy, I worked in a different segment. I don’t want to say that I came to it as a “blind chicken to the grain”, but that wouldn’t be too far from the truth. I came in for an interview, tried my luck, and made it. No one looked at whether I had X years of IT experience or a technical degree. I had previously worked in public administration, in the construction industry. I’ve been here for ten years and I don’t plan on changing any of that. The advantage of joining is msg life Slovakia’s approach to onboarding. It’s very well-processed. Detailed, intensive, educational, can last the whole probationary period. One learns and at the same time tests the knowledge he acquires in the first months. We have different coaches available. In general, we have a culture where nobody has to be afraid to come to anybody and ask anything, which makes that process of acclimatization to a new field very fast.

Do you have any tips for tester applicants? And maybe some insight into how you can last ten years in a company. I’m sure financial compensation plays a role in this as well. The software tester salary is probably quite motivating, isn’t it?

It’s not just about money. It’s not even about benefits. I would start with a simple “thank you”. I hear it from colleagues in Slovakia and from colleagues in Germany. From management, leaders, clients. Thanks for a job well done is a great motivation. You see that what you are doing is meaningful and you are helping someone. Besides, I personally can only praise this company. They go the extra mile. The premises, the attitude towards the employees, the employee benefits.

I would say this is not the standard. The quality care of a large company with a broad portfolio of benefits combined with the human touch of a small business. I was given a chance ten years ago and I still feel that I want to improve at what I do. To educate myself, to grow and to help the company by doing so. Anyway, I’ll just say this much about the tip for candidates… It’s about the person. If someone wants to, at msg life Slovakia they will get a space and a chance. You just have to overcome the uncertainty and grab the chance. For job offers in software testing see the IT tester jobs subpage.

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