How do you test a <insert arbitrary item>

As a tester of many years I’ve often been victim of the fabled interview question “How would you test…” followed by some object plucked from the realms of imagination.

These things have ranged from toasters, to phones, to chocolate bars, to one person who asked how I would test the temperature of the water in their glass (to this day I can’t get my head around what they were after).

When interviewing others I’ve prefered to avoid such questions in favour of asking directly how to test web services and apis. My question to the community is what things have you been asked to ‘test’ and do people find these questions useful when performing interview assessments?

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I don’t like “how would you test an X” question. I wrote a lot about them, and alternatives to them, here: Interview ideas

I’ve had various answers over the years to give back to these people. I enjoy “I would not do that” and “why?” because it tells me if the questioner bothered to have any context prepared. I like “what do you want to know about it?” because it says that I don’t test in a vacuum, I provide a service for other people whose needs define how I work. Some people ask “how would you test an X” questions looking to see if I ask any questions… but then they don’t question my answers, so my answers could be anything.

I demand context. If I wanted to follow orders without question or understanding I’d have joined the military.

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