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Issue 62

The psychological profile of the automotive tester

Alina Borbély
Embedded QA Consultant @ NTT Data Romania
TESTING

We are continuously innovating and changing the auto field. If, until 10 years ago, a full test cycle for a software product for the auto industry took 2 years, the test period is now considerably reduced in view of an ever-growing market and of fierce competition. We have more and more electronic equipment in our car, the auto autonomy is greater and greater, and the development and testing time is more and more reduced.

Given all these aspects, how do we choose our staff, how do we select testers? How do we ensure that we deliver high-quality products?

A 2017 study by QA Intelligence Testing and QA management shows that 32% of testers got at this stage by chance, 24% chose this field, 21 % moved to this position from other positions within the company, 16 % started out as interns or students, and 7% did not answer or had other reasons. Basically, only 24% wanted this position, getting involved in specialized studies in this respect. What do we do about the rest? How can we attract staff which has all the necessary qualities to be automotive testers?

ntt data

Training and certification are key factors which improve people's testing abilities. Recent studies have shown that training at the workplace is the main training method ( 72%), companies encourage the test teams' knowledge boost by paying for their certification (51%) and by offering formal training (46%). Both the theoretical and the practical training are very important if they are used together.

One of the means of investigating and analyzing a tester's psychological profile in the automotive field is done by starting off fron their job description.

The job description of the automotive tester includes the following skills:

For the auto field, it is crucial to know the business, the risk and the impact that any undetected code flaw may have. For a software engineer who tests educational games, the risks have to do with illicit software copying. In the financial field we talk about huge material loss. By contrast, in automotive we speak about material loss and human lives. It is essential to identify and to make testers responsible.

The abilities and skills automotive testers should have, as per their job description, are:

For the interview and the subsequent hiring of an automotive tester, the following factors need to be evaluated: work under stress, attention to detail, risk analysis, critical thinking and efficiency. These are all criteria which fall under the responsibility of the human resources department.

More and more innovative techniques are employed in selecting a psychologist. It is important to apply tests and perform various evaluations from the employment process of the future employee to reduce the risks which can later lead to serious accidents. Selection is done via a series of steps people must go through when aiming for a position. Each step reduces the group of potential employees, and only one person will be hired, eventually. Various tests are applied given the objectives mentioned above.

Aptitude tests measure a person's potential to perform a task.

Achievement tests measure the qualifications and the knowledge a person has in a given field. These were obtained via training and experience in the automotive field, in our case.

Personality traits are a decisive factor in choosing the candidate, and personality tests are useful here. These provide information about the individual's emotional maturity, their subjectivity, honesty and objectivity.

It is important to set the profile features, and to have a very rigorous and attentive selection.

In the case of personality tests, great attention should be given to the traits from the personality disorder range.

For example, a neurotic person tends to use the past to justify the present, uses others to attain their goals, prepares answers beforehand, instead of listening; tends to do everything perfectly; makes generalizations; is excessively polite; criticizes and brings accusations; has the tendency to answer one question with another question. The person seems very pleasing and fools people easily because of their excessive politeness; when deadlines get near, they can compromise it because "others did not do their job", and, obviously, does not take responsibility for the consequences of their work.

A paranoid person has delirious views regarding other people who have hidden reasons or who wish to bring harm to the affected person. Moreover, the person shows lack of trust and hostility, feels persecuted, and is socially withdrawn. A frequent case is that of people who show passionate idealism, which belong to a different case of paranoia: these are the persons who have a far-fetched ideal about themselves and who behave in line with this ideal. These people exhibit an avid lust for power. Individuals want to gain power, to become leaders and to become historical figures, wanting to demonstrate their superiority to those that made them feel inferior in the past. These persons seem balanced, intelligent and result-oriented, but when they feel they "are not given the place they deserve" they become aggressive in their quest for power.

Selecting automotive testers from a psychological perspective requires intense R&D work to come up with a specific methodology that clearly specifies the purpose, the objectives, the used instruments, the way decisions are made and the identification of pathological personality traits.

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