Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Job Interview Craziness

With about five candidates for every job opening these days, some responsible for hiring decisions have resorted to desperate measures in their efforts to narrow the field. Researchers at career site culled through tens of thousands of queries reported by job seekers who had done their best to come up with answers on the spot, and selected the oddest interview questions of the past 15 months.

Luckily for beleaguered candidates, the interviewers seemed in most cases to be more interested in how people responded -- that is, in hearing their thought process, and seeing how well they kept their cool -- than in receiving a "correct" response. A sampling of Glassdoor's list, and where the question was asked:

"Given the numbers 1 to 1,000, what is the minimum number of guesses needed to find a specific number, if you are given the hint 'higher' or 'lower' for each guess you make?" -- Facebook

"Using a scale of 1 to 10, rate yourself on how weird you are." -- Capital One 

"Explain quantum electrodynamics in two minutes, starting now." -- Intel

"How many balloons would fit in this room?" -- PricewaterhouseCoopers

"If you were shrunk to the size of a pencil and put in a blender, how would you get out?" -- Goldman Sachs

"You have a bouquet of flowers. All but two are roses, all but two are daisies, and all but two are tulips. How many flowers do you have?" -- Epic Systems

"What is the philosophy of martial arts?" -- Aflac

"Explain to me what has happened in this country during the last 10 years." -- Boston Consulting

"If you could be any superhero, which one would you be?" -- AT&T

"How do you weigh an elephant without using a scale?" -- IBM

"If you had 5,623 participants in a tournament, how many games would need to be played to determine the winner?" -- Amazon

"How many bricks are there in Shanghai? Consider only residential buildings." --Deloitte Consulting

"You have five bottles of pills. One bottle has 9 gram pills, the others have 10 gram pills. You have a scale that can be used only once. How can you find out which bottle contains the 9 gram pills?" --eBay

"What is your fastball?" -- Ernst & Young

"How would you market ping pong balls if ping pong itself became obsolete? List many ways, then pick one and go into detail." -- Microsoft

"How many smartphones are there in New York City?" -- Google

"You are in charge of 20 people. Organize them to figure out how many bicycles were sold in your area last year." -- Schlumberger

"Why do you think only a small percentage of the population makes over $125,000 a year?" -- New York Life

"You have three boxes. One contains only apples, one contains only oranges, and one contains both apples and oranges. The boxes have been incorrectly labeled so that no label accurately identifies the contents of any of the boxes. Opening just one box, and without looking inside, you take out one piece of fruit. By looking at the fruit, how can you immediately label all of the boxes correctly?" -- Apple

"How many ball bearings, each one inch in diameter, can fit inside a 747 aircraft?" -- SAIC 

Now I've spent a little bit of time trying to solve some of the logic puzzles and math estimation questions, but again, I really think that most of these are more to see how an interview candidate can deal with something way out of left field.  Have any of you ever been faced with ridiculous interview situations?


  1. This looks pretty crazy for an interview but that might be the easiest way to get rid of people with lack of intelligence. Most of them made me laugh hard since I never had anything that complicated. It reminds me of college haha.

  2. Mr bouchard have right.. grate post.. grate and funny, hahah

  3. Alot of stupid questions there. If I got some of them on an interview I'd just walked out tbh...

  4. If I ever became a HR person and had to hire someone I would ask what the candidate wanted on their sandwich. See how quickly they would answer that.

  5. I like the idea behind some of these, but wonder if a really clever person prone to nervousness might not stutter himself right out of a job on these.

  6. The Aflac question was awesome hahaha

  7. the ebay one really made me think

  8. are they for real? some of them are seriously no-use and ridiculous. Apple, ebay and Amazon's questions are quite good to find an employee that thinks fast and solves logic questions! cool post!

  9. "What is the philosophy of martial arts?" Ahaha I would laugh so hard if someone asked me that in an interview!

  10. THIS
    "How many bricks are there in Shanghai? Consider only residential buildings." --Deloitte Consulting
    Would be hard to guess :D

  11. that is insane, almost like a joke.

  12. i ask some of these questions in everyday conversation.

  13. Really stupid questions, hahaha!

  14. i've been running the ebay one through my head for about fifteen minutes now...what's the answer?!