If you’re applying for a QA position, you’ll likely be asked how you’d test specific items to ensure quality products. One of the items you might be asked to test is a pencil. In this article, we’ll get inside a hiring manager’s mind to give tips on how to test a pencil in an interview. The hiring manager will look for your ability to think critically and come up with solutions to problems, such as how to check that the pencil lead is sharp enough or whether there are any cracks in the wood. So, what are the most common ways to test a pencil?
1. Figure out if the pencil is made of wood, plastic, graphite, or something else
The first step is to determine the material of the pencil. Is it wood, plastic, graphite, or something else? To do this, you’ll need to look at the material composition of the pencil. If it’s made of wood, you’ll want to check that the wood is good quality and that there aren’t any splinters. If it’s made of plastic, you’ll want to check that the plastic is good quality and that there aren’t any cracks. If it’s made of graphite, you’ll want to check that the graphite is good quality and that there aren’t any breakages. Next, you’ll want to sharpen the pencil. Does it sharpen easily without much effort? If so, the company must make quality pencils. After sharpening, does the point get worn down quickly? Or does it stay pointed for a long time? These are all tests you can perform or describe to a hiring manager! And we’re just getting started. Keep reading as we dive deeper!
2. Check the hardness
Once your pencil is sharp, you can perform this test to check its hardness. Take the pencil and press it into your skin. If the pencil leaves a mark, it’s too soft and won’t write well. If the pencil does not leave a mark, it’s too hard and will break easily. The perfect pencil will leave a light mark on your skin. Next, test the lead. When testing a pencil’s lead, you should draw a line using light pressure. If the lead wears down with just one or two strokes, it’s too soft and will not provide enough writing material. On the other hand, if the point is still very sharp after one or two strokes, it’s too hard and may cause paper tears due to its brittle quality.
3. Look at the lead under different light sources
One of the most important aspects of quality assurance is ensuring that products are consistent and meet customer expectations. To test a pencil for quality assurance, you’ll want to inspect the lead under different light sources. Inspecting your pencil in different lighting will help you identify any inconsistencies in the lead and make sure your pencil meets customer expectations for length of use and reliability. What if this is the only pencil the user expects to own for the next five years? You can consider this case too! If there’s no consistency, then the pencil may not be worth buying or using because it won’t be reliable.
4. Test it on various surfaces
One of the most important things you can do when testing a pencil is to see how the pencil functions on different materials. Try writing with your pencil on paper, sandpaper, ice, wood, plastic, and glass. Each surface will provide different feedback that can be helpful in your Quality Assurance job interview. Of course, the pencil will not work well on glass, but you should check your requirements and confirm. Testing the pencil on different surfaces is an essential part of any functional test suite.
5. Sketch with it
For this test, get yourself a pencil and some paper. Draw a simple picture with your pencil and paper. Once you have your drawing, take a piece of sandpaper and rub it over the entire drawing. Inspect the results closely. Next, take the pencil and draw on a piece of ice. Again, look at the results closely. Finally, test the pencil on different surfaces like wood, plastic, and glass. Pay attention to how well the lead transfers to each surface. This is important information to know when quality assuring a pencil in an interview setting! You may think, “Hey, I don’t usually bring ice and sandpaper to a job interview! How do I test it then?” You can simply describe these approaches to an interviewer. Descriptions like these will show your interviewer how creative you are as a tester!
6. Compare it to another pencil
The pencil you use for your Quality Assurance job interview should be made of wood, have a good eraser, and have a standard lead. It should also be easy to sharpen. The best way to test a pencil’s quality is to compare it to another pencil. Not all pencils are made alike! For comparison, you can use a well-known pencil brand with a proven track record and plenty of users. You can see the length and thickness of this brand-name pencil. Compare both pencils by holding them in your hand, one at a time, and see which one you feel more comfortable using. These small things can help you determine whether your pencil will be able to compete on the market with similar pencils!
7. Freeze it
Another way to test a pencil is to freeze it. After the pencil is frozen, take it out and try to use it on different surfaces like paper, sandpaper, ice, wood, plastic, and glass. If the pencil still works well on all of these surfaces, it passes the test!
8. Wet it
How about a wet pencil? What if the user wants to write in the pouring rain? Will the pencil still work? A great way to test a pencil is by getting it wet! Get a piece of paper and wet it with some water. Then try drawing with the pencil on the wet paper. The lead should make a nice, dark line. If it doesn’t, the pencil is probably of poor quality and won’t serve its owner in all possible life events.
9. Try different types of paper
When testing a pencil, you’ll want to try it out on different types of paper. This includes glossy, matte, photo, and standard printer paper. Doing this gives you a good idea of how the pencil performs under different conditions. Plus, it will give you a chance to see how the pencil feels in your hand while using these different types of paper.
10. Microwave it
You can also test your pencil by microwaving it. Place the pencil on a sheet of paper and microwave it on high for two minutes. If the lead melts, it’s probably not the best quality. Try another pencil. Things happen, and your pencil should be durable to survive!
11. How about washing the pencil in the washing machine?
To test the pencil’s durability, try putting it in the washing machine. If the pencil can withstand being washed, it is probably durable enough for general use. If your pencil survives being washed, sharpen the pencil and try it on different types of paper. Is your pencil still performing well after that? Well, congratulations!
While there are many ways to test anything—such as a pencil, toaster, elevator, or vending machine—you should always use the same approach to evaluate an item’s durability and reliability. You can be as creative as you want! The more you test, the better the result. However, do not hesitate to check the requirements during your test planning. The manufacturer might not plan for the pencil to be put in a blender and might not design it to survive such treatment. You may not want to spend the extra time testing something that is not (yet) supported.
During your QA interview, your goal is to show that you can be a good end-user. You should come up with many different life situations that can impact your product when testing durability and quality. Work on your creativity so you can easily impress your hiring manager!
Good luck with your pencil!