• Jennifer Flaa

How to Talk to Engineers

Here’s the scoop:

Tips For Talking To Engineers

Sometimes Engineers can be intimidating and sometimes testers are

shy. But in order to get the information you need to be a rock star testers, you need to have a conversation. So, here's the scoop:

  • Engineers are people too – just regular dudes (usually really smart, regular dudes, but dudes just the same)

  • Engineers (usually) like to talk about what they’ve been working on

  • Smart engineers want to help you find the bugs in their stuff. If you find them, the end result is a good product, a proud engineer and happy management. Happy management = happy team!

  • DON’T expect good help when an engineer is focused on something else. Set a time for the chat and give them a moment to transition their brain from problem solving to being sociable.

  • DON’T expect good help when an engineer is stressed out, highly caffeinated and working feverishly on a deadline. Timing is everything!

Verbal Template For Talking To Engineers

So, for the verbally challenged, we bon vivant testers, kindly offer you this guide to getting started:

  1. The Prelude: Begin with a casual conversation opener to break the ice. Starting with questions tends to feel like you are demanding and puts the engineer on the defensive. Not the best place for our buds! Try:

  • “Hi, how was your weekend?” They answer and then you say “I’ve got a few questions about ___, do you have 5 minutes?” (yes, set an exact time you expect to require their full, undivided attention. It helps them prioritize or

  • “Got anything cool planned for this weekend?” (again asking the secondary question listed above) or

  • “Hi, I have a few questions about the ___ feature (or Spec), do you have a few minutes?” or “….can I buy you a cup of coffee?”(Yes, you buy it!)

  1. The Guts: Now, this is the part of the conversation where you actually ask your questions. Hint: Be sure to look at the engineer first to make sure that you have their attention. What questions should you ask?

  • See the Top 6 Questions To Ask Engineers or try

  • “Could you tell me more about ____?”

  • “I’m assuming this___, is that correct?”

Of course, there’s tons more stuff you could say, ask or talk about. This should get you started. Once you have a couple of successful interactions under your belt, you may get wild and try going “off book” (without a script or template, talking extemporaneously)!

  1. The Closing: You are now ready to wrap up the conversation. Here’s a few ideas that will help draw the conversation to a close.

  • “Is there anything else I should know?”

  • “Wow, this was great information!”

  • “Is there anything you need from me?” (cuz it’s good to be a “giver” not just a “taker”)

  1. The End: You only have one thing to say and you must say it everytime an engineer helps you: “Thank you”.

Hope this helps get you started.

Got tips for timid testers?

We’d love to hear it!

Test on mighty tester, test on! Jenn

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