January 14, 2018

How Would You Test A Chair? A Warm Up Question To Give Candidate Software Testers

I've been on many a job interview as a software tester these past twenty years.

On a job interview, to see how well candidates think on their feet, and how dig they deep in their testing, the interviewer can talk about an ordinary item to the candidates that is unrelated to software testing, and ask the candidate how to test it.

The item could be a phone. A calculator. A pen. Or even a chair.

Interview Question: How Would You Test A Chair?

Exploratory Testing!

Usability testing: You might have pictured yourself attempting to sit in a chair, then get up from the chair, performing what we might term usability testing.

Functionality testing: If the office chair has lumbar support built in, or can raise and lower the seat and the headrest.

Load Testing: Imagining the normal usage of said chair, having people with smaller or larger bodies than yours attempting to use the chair.

Stress Testing: Having a friend of yours sit on your lap, someone else sitting on their lap, and keep on adding another person and another person until the chair broke.

Performance testing: Have a machine emulate getting up and sittign down, then measuring how the force of a body sittign in a chair and standign up affects the joints of the chair.

Security testing: How easy is it to steal the chair?

... But this line of exploratory testing can only get you so far.

Come Up With A List of Requirements! 

Without a list of business requirements, you don't know what features the chair should have.

  • If the office chair is black or brown, and the chair is actually supposed to be Day Glow pink, that is a bug.  
  • Should the headrest, the back rest, the seat be cushioned or should it be upholstered in leather for a fancy senior manager? 
  • If the requirements call for the seat, the back of the chair, and the headrest to be all one piece, and instead, you have an adjustable headrest, and two metal poles connecting it to the seat, that is a bug. 
  • What is the size and makeup of the back of the chair, the height and width of the back and seat of the chair? 
  • Should the chair have arms or not? How widely spaced should they be?
  • How high and wide should the seat be?
  • Does the chair have four legs? Or is it one pole leading to five separate feet, all with metal casters that allows the chair to move?

Are There Outside Quality Bodies You Could Bring Into The Conversation?

If one of the requirements are that the chair should be ergonomic, have you accurately scoped out what ergonomics mean? Have you checked out the United States Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration or "OSHA" about what they mean by "ergonomics"?

Don't Forget To Test The Requirements!

If the chair does roll, is one the requirements for some type of brake to stop the chair from rolling?
If it is not in the requirements, should it be in the requirements?

And those are all the things you need to think about when you test a chair.

... If you have any creative and inventive ways of testing an office chair write them in the Comments section below.

The most creative answers I will place in an upcoming blog post in tjmaher.com.

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Happy Testing!

-T.J. Maher
Twitter | LinkedIn | GitHub

// Sr. QA Engineer, Software Engineer in Test, Software Tester since 1996.
// Contributing Writer for TechBeacon.
// "Looking to move away from manual QA? Follow Adventures in Automation on Facebook!"

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