24 Wacky Questions From Real Job Interviews

6 Comments

How would you move Mount Fuji? Today, Glassdoor.com, which collects anonymous employee comments on companies, is citing that goofy question and more in its collection of 24 oddball queries that were actually asked in interviews.  Some of them are doozies.

So which tech companies are considered lousy to interview at? In addition to its collection of wacky job interview questions, Glassdoor has gathered data from its site visitors on the tech companies that provide the most positive interview experiences, and the ones guaranteed to make you squirm.

Nokia (s nok) gets the highest ratings for positive experiences:

And Reynolds and Reynolds’ job interviews are rated the most negative (among Silicon Valley giants, Oracle (s orcl) and Google (s goog) don’t fare too well, either):

Finally, get a load of these actual questions asked during job interviews. Would you be able to handle these?:

1. What was your best MacGyver moment? – Schlumberger junior field engineer

2. How many tennis balls are in this room and why? – Yahoo customer service rep

3. If you were a brick in a wall which brick would you be and why? – Nestle USA procurement intern

4. How would you move Mount Fuji? – Microsoft software development engineer

5. If two cars are traveling in a two lap race on a track of any length, one going 60 mph and the other going 30 mph, how fast will the slower car have to go to finish at the same time as the faster car? – Morgan Stanley trader

6. Are your parents disappointed with your career aspirations? – Fisher Investments client service associate

7. Tell me how you would determine how many house painters there are in the United States? – Acquity Group business analyst

8. What should it cost to rent Central Park for commercial purposes? – Bain & Co. business analyst

9. If I put you in a sealed room with a phone that had no dial tone, how would you fix it? – Apple software engineer

10. If you could be any animal, what would you be and why? – Pacific Sunwear sales associate

11. How many hair salons are there in Japan? – Boston Consulting associate

12. If both a taxi and a limo were priced the exact same, which one would you choose? – Best Buy customer service

13. How to measure 9 minutes using only a 4 minute and 7 minute hourglass? – Bank of America quantitative developer

14. What are five uncommon uses of a brick, not including building, layering, or a paper-weight? – Kaplan Higher Education data analyst

15. What is the probability of throwing 11 and over with two dices – American Airlines financial analyst

16. Say you are dead — what do you think your eulogy would say about you? – Nationwide product manager

17. Given a dictionary of words, how do you calculate the anagrams for a new word? – Amazon software development engineer

18. How many lightbulbs are in this building? – Monitor Group entry interview

19. Given a square grid of numbers, considering all the numbers at the boundary as one layer and numbers just inside as another layer and so on how would you rotate each of the layers of the numbers by a given amount? – Microsoft engineer

20. How would you sell me eggnog in Florida in the summer? – Expedia market manager

21. Develop an algorithm for finding the shortest distance between two words in a document.  After the phone interview is over, take a few hours to develop a working example in C++ and send it to the manager. – Google software engineer

22. Given a fleet of 50 trucks, each with a full fuel tank and a range of 100 miles, how far can you deliver a payload?  You can transfer the payload from truck to truck, and you can transfer fuel from truck to truck.  Extend your answer for n trucks. – Palantir Technologies business development engineer

23. You are in a room with three switches which correspond to three bulbs in another room and you don’t know which switch corresponds to which bulb. You can only enter the room with the bulbs once. You can NOT use any external equipment (power supplies, resistors, etc.). How do you find out which bulb corresponds to which switch? – Goldman Sachs X-Div/back office

24. If you saw someone steal a quarter, would you report it? – Amazon shipping manifest clerk

Image courtesy of Zach Klein on Flickr.

6 Comments

ev*

about the lightbulb one…

1switch on and leave it on for a minute, turn it off and switch#2 on… then, walk to the room with the bulb.. if it’s on then its switch#2, if its off check if its warm… if its warm then it’s switch#1, if not warm.. Switch #3! That’s it :)

Dr. Yusuf Al-Kindi

Some of the questions do have precise answers. Some merely are designed to find out how someone will react or how they would set up the solution to a probelm. Some of the questions are merely those that would be asked by some arrogant prick who enjoys the fact that he has power and control over some eager naive engineer in need of a job and supllicating to him.

stephan

The “how many hair salons” is a pretty classic one – you just have to think fast (nb of inhabitants, how many hairdressers/inhabitant). No one expect precise answers, obviously

ZN

I’m a manager and have interviewed or hired many people over the years. I try not to ask ridiculous questions, but sometimes I do ask unexpected questions just to see how the candidate handles an open-ended situation. I think some of the “stupid” questions listed here actually can be very good ways of finding out how nimble a person is on their feet and getting a sense of their character. In fact, the interviewer may be fully aware that the question sounds stupid and simply wants to see how the candidate responds. So answering in a calm, clever, and diplomatic way might land the person the job because it gives the interviewer confidence in the candidate — I think a smart candidate would treat all questions in an interview with attention and answer them in a real way (and not assume that he or she is in a Dilbert cartoon, although that may be the case).

Joshua Davis

Most of these questions seem pretty relevant in how well you solve problems. If an interviewer has a correct answer for how to move Mount Fiji, that might be a problem. But being able to answer a bizarre question shows how you perform at difficult problems under stress.

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