As many Americans hit the job interview circuit, prepare yourselves to be asked about anything.
And I mean anything.
Glassdoor.com, a Web site where people rate their employers and post their pay, has listed the Top 25 Oddball Interview Questions from the last year. The firm says it sifted through 14,000 nominations to come up with a final list, which covers alleged interview questions from firms like Morgan Stanley, Microsoft, Google, Goldman Sachs, and Amazon.com. People then posted potential answers to these questions on the Glassdoor website. Some of the answers are serious, some are not.
You can see the full list here, but below are some of my favorites, along with suggested "answers":
1) What was your best McGuyver (sic) moment?
This was allegedly a question asked by Schlumberger during interviews for a Junior Field Engineer position.
-"I once met 'MacGuyver' (Richard Anderson) in a coffee shop in Vancouver in ('85?). OK, met is not the right word; perhaps I should say, 'had a run-in with him, back in his out of control ego days...'. I was a construction foreman then. I walked into the coffee shop next to our site, sat at the counter, ordered, and picked up the newspaper on the counter (common practice there at that time). The big-feathered-hair guy next to me sneers '...Do you MIND? That's MY paper...' 'Oh, sorry. I was just...' 'Why can't you people leave me alone. (blah blah blah rant rant).. Don't you know who I am? ' 'Uhhh. an arrogant jerk who thinks the world revolves around him? I dunno, give me a hint, Buddy.' I had not seen MacGuyver yet, so really didn't quite recognize him.'"
-"This question is just a creative way to ask you how you solved a problem at work that required you to think outside the box, improvise or invent a solution that was not proposed by someone else. Proper preparation for this question is identifying a significant project where you had substantial impact on the success of the outcome, hopefully by identifying a solution on your own."
-"This question contains a dated cultural reference. You'd best explain up-front to 20-somethings who McGuyver (sic) is, lest you annoy the young whippersnapper sitting across from you. Also, if you wish to impress astute candidates, spell the friggin' character's name correctly."
-"Have real MacGyver answer ready, but start out with a MacGruber answer, like, 'Once I was in the control room of a deserted power plant...'"
2) How many tennis balls are in this room and why?
This was allegedly asked by Yahoo! during interviews for a Customer Service rep.
My favorite "answer": "If the room is already filled with sand, none. Do you want to know if I can actually write code?"
3) How would you move Mount Fuji?
This question allegedly came during a Software Development Engineer interview at Microsoft .
"Answers" include the well-known, widely discussed, every idiot should know-TOWER OF HANOI ALGORITHM:
-"This is a common dorky Computer Science joke. The answer I believe they are looking for is that you use the Tower of Hanoi algorithm to move the mountain, i.e., that the problem of moving Mt. Fuji is reducible to the already-solved Tower of Hanoi problem. This could be accomplished by having a large laser and a couple of really good cranes."
-"The answer to this is simple. 'One shovelful at a time.'"
4) If two cars are traveling in a two lap race on a track of any length, one going 60 mph and the other going 30mph, how fast will the slower car have to go to finish at the same car to finish at the same time?
This hard to read question allegedly came up during an interview to be a Trader at Morgan Stanley .
-"Wouldn't the slow car just need to go 60mph? It doesn't say that the fast car is going double the slow car's speed, only that the slow car is going 30 mph and the fast is going 60mph."
-"The question is a trick. It says how fast will the slower car have to go to finish 'AT THE SAME CAR' to finish at the same time? It can go any speed!! It will always finish at the same car (2nd) at the same time. The car isn't changing!!!"
-"I'm assuming that the question, as typed, was entered incorrectly and that it should be worded, 'How fast will the slower car have to go to finish at the same time as the faster car?' The answer is 30mph. Because that's how fast the slower car is going. Nowhere in the question does it state that the cars are at the same point on the track. The slower car is currently halfway between the faster car and the end of the race."
5) If you could be any animal, what would you be and why?
This question allegedly came up during interviews to be a Sales Associate at Pacific Sunwear .
-"A friend of mine told me he had this question asked of him on a police exam years ago. I do not remember how he responded, but was told the answer they would like to hear was: A dog. (Typically) A dog is loyal, and will not bite unless backed into a corner."
-"I'd be human. 'Cause man is one of the smartest animals I know."
6) What is your favorite food?
No, this question wasn't asked to be hired by a food services of casual dining chain. It was allegedly asked DURING AN INTERVIEW TO BE AN APPLE STORE MANAGER .
-"Whatever you're buying."
7) "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."
Wow. This was allegedly asked during a Software Engineer interview by Microsoft. Glassdoor.com received two potential answers to this question, neither particularly nice. The first one was bleeped out for inappropriate content.
Here is the second:
-"Is it OK if my solution pegs the CPU for 5 minutes? What about introducing a security hole - good?"
What's the strangest question you've ever been asked in an interview? Post it in the comment section below.
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