How to test a pen

How would you test a pen?

My initial thoughts:

  1. Can it write? On papers made of different material?
  2. How long can it write? One week? One month?
  3. Is it easily broken?
  4. Can it be refilled?
  5. Can both lefty and righty use it?

This problem is largely about understand the constraints: what exactly is the pen? You should ask a lot of questions to understand what exactly you are trying to test To illustrate the technique in this problem, let us guide you through a mock-conversation.
Interviewer: How would you test a pen?
Candidate: Let me find out a bit about the pen Who is going to use the pen?
Interviewer: Probably children
Candidate: Ok, that’s interesting. What will they be doing with it? Will they be writing, drawing, or doing something else with it?
Interviewer: Drawing
Candidate: Ok, great. On what? Paper? Clothing? Walls?
Interviewer: On clothing
Candidate: Great. What kind of tip does the pen have? Felt? Ball point? Is it intended to wash off, or is it intended to be permanent?
Interviewer: It’s intended to wash off
… many questions later
Candidate: Ok, so as I understand it, we have a pen that is being targeted at 5—10 year olds. The pen has a felt tip and comes in red, green, blue and black. It’s intended to wash off clothing. Is that correct?

The candidate now has a problem that is significantly different from what it initially seemed to be. Thus, the candidate might now want to test:

  1. Does the pen wash off with warm water, cold water, and luke warm water?
  2. Does the pen wash off after staying on the clothing for several weeks? What happens if you wash the clothing while the pen is still wet?
  3. Is the pen safe (e.g. non-toxic) for children?

and so on…


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