A discussion happening on Software Testing Club about interview questions like “how would you test a ….” (pencil or calculator or some such object) and whether it makes sense or otherwise had me hooked since there were Yes and Nays with justifications to that which makes it interesting.
My contribution to the forum is given below (along with some links worthy of a read).
As a interviewer I have always asked questions like “how will you test a hard disk” or “FPS game” or “a vending machine” etc.. These are simplistic yet related to finding out about how quickly the interviewees think on their feet, what they think in terms of new/radical/crazy ideas of & how well they adapt which is what testing is all about and much more.
We are all aware that interviewees sometimes go through all kinds of unusual rituals (right from something thrown at interviewee to take him unawares to keeping him waiting and checking his body language or using the CCTV to observe and monitor the “creature” whether he reads, what he reads, fidgets, droops, digs his nose & so on..) I have heard about even instances about people being abused and insulted just to check their lava spewing point… They make sense because it helps us delve into the interviewee’s mind to show us some of his er ‘hidden’ qualities..(positive and not so positive) which relates to the job on offer in a indirect but devious way.
Since interviewing time is always limited coupled with the risk / cost of a dodo getting hired which we then have to endure along with our shattered abused self-esteem – we want to try reasonably and discover the personality from different angles to make the best choice under the circumstances. I would thus vote for as much creativity as possible while staying within limits of decency, fair play and sanity. For example I am never going to ask a tester to let me know different uses of a condom (immoral question) or test a hand grenade (risk of damaging furniture, causing noise pollution, inviting media attention and other dangers).
So at the cost of a pencil sticking from my eye or going into a sneezing fit with salt and phlegm running helter-skelter out of my nose, I would continue asking such questions….