Most software engineers that I’ve talked to over the years believe that the mind-set and personality of a good software tester are different from those of a good software developer. This idea is somewhat important. Finding good software testers at a company like Microsoft is very difficult — on any given day, Microsoft has well over 500 open job positions for software testing — and understanding what make a good software tester can help find and develop SQA engineers. Well to cut to the chase, I performed a lightweight, preliminary study which compared the personality traits of several hundred software developers, software testers, and non-software engineers. Because my study was just a first investigation I cannot state with certainty any strong conclusions, but I did find strong indications that there are in fact significant differences in personality traits between good developers and good testers. For example, testers tend to be more experimental and more methodical than developers. Anyway, I’ve written up a paper on my study and will be presenting my results next month (June 18-21) at the Better Software Conference and Expo in Las Vegas. See http://www.sqe.com/BetterSoftwareConf/ for details. Looking at the bigger picture, it’s well known that the number of computer science graduates at U.S. universities continues to decline. It is not an exaggeration to state that nothing short of U.S. technological supremacy is at risk. See for example an article that describes how universities are seeking computer science students at http://seattlepi.nwsource.com/business/1700ap_reprogramming_programmers.html. And see also an article about how difficult it is for companies like Microsoft and Google to find software engineers at http://seattlepi.nwsource.com/business/317557_google29.html. My parent company, Volt Information Sciences, places thousands of contract and full-time software engineers at Microsoft and other companies, and Volt definitely feels this pain. Understanding the psychology of good software testers may help recruiting.