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1/17/2014
10:46 AM
Thomas Claburn
Thomas Claburn
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16 Stupid Tech Job Interview Questions: Show Your Snark

Glassdoor characterizes these actual job interview questions as "oddball." We give these questions the answers they deserve.

10) "How many square feet of pizza are eaten in the U.S. each year?" -- Goldman Sachs, Programmer Analyst interview.

The precise number is unknowable, but I can provide an estimate if asked.

Wouldn't it have been easier to ask if I made it through middle school?

var pizzaRadius = 1; // one foot
var pizzaPi = Math.PI; // 3.14...
var pizzaArea = pizzaPi * pizzaRadius * pizzaRadius; // pi * r^2, or 3.14 sq.
var usPopulation = 319000000;
var pizzasPerPersonPerYear = 5.75; // 46 slices average @ 8 slices per pizza
var total = usPopulation * pizzasPerPersonPerYear * pizzaArea;
console.log (total); // +/- 5,762,466,325 sq. feet

11) "Can you instruct someone how to make an origami 'cootie catcher' with just words?" -- LivingSocial, Consumer Advocate interview.

Only if we speak the same language.

Sure. I'd say, "Search for the phrase 'how to make a cootie catcher.'"

12)  "How does the Internet work?" -- Akamai, Director interview.

It's a series of tubes, metaphorically speaking.

13)  "If there was a movie produced about your life, who would play you and why?" --  SinglePlatform, Inside Sales Consultant interview.

Jar Jar Binks, because stereotypes just save time.

Godzilla, because my life would have more than two dozen sequels.

14) "It's Thursday; we're staffing you on a telecommunications project in Calgary, Canada on Monday. Your flight and hotel are booked; your visa is ready. What are the top five things you do before you leave?" -- ThoughtWorks, Junior Consultant interview.

Inquire why I have a visa, which is unnecessary for a US citizen visiting Canada, but not a work permit. Then identify the client, the project goals, whether a car will be required, and whether Internet access is available at the hotel and on-site.

15) "Describe to me the process and benefits of wearing a seatbelt." -- Active Network, Client Applications Specialist interview.

When the seat belt sign illuminates, you must fasten your seat belt. To do so, insert the metal tip into the buckle and adjust the strap so it's low and tight across your lap. To release the belt, lift the top of the buckle. Remain seated, with the seat belt fastened, any time the seat belt sign is on.

Active Network's mission is to make the world a more active place. Passive restraints like seatbelts have no place in our new world order.

16) "Have you ever been on a boat?" -- Applied Systems, Graphic Designer interview.

Are we not all sailors on the seas of fate?

Feel better now? These may not be the best answers to these questions from an employment standpoint, but they're probably among the most satisfying. There are other places to work. Go out and find an employer that actually wants to know about you and to evaluate your capabilities as a person.

Thomas Claburn is editor-at-large for InformationWeek. He has been writing about business and technology since 1996 for publications such as New Architect, PC Computing, InformationWeek, Salon, Wired, and Ziff Davis Smart Business. He's the author of a science fiction novel, Reflecting Fires, and his mobile game Blocfall Free is available for iOSAndroid, and Kindle Fire.

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RobPreston
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RobPreston,
User Rank: Author
1/22/2014 | 1:32:44 PM
Re: Just a bad article
yinzara, you found one question you find plausible out of this batch of inane questions and you think the whole tone of this article is off base? Have a little fun with it. And the author makes a good case for why the other questions are misguided, useless, or just plain odd. 
yinzara
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yinzara,
User Rank: Apprentice
1/21/2014 | 3:27:00 PM
Just a bad article
I disagree greatly with the entire tone of this article. Many of the questions stated actually have valid reasons for asking them.  For instance, if I want to know how the new employee works through problems, the question about the number of sq ft pizza in the US is actually completely viable.  You need to ask a question that you know the person would have no idea on the answer to see how they break the problem down into parts.
lairy
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lairy,
User Rank: Apprentice
1/21/2014 | 12:55:28 PM
#2 How lucky are you and why - actually there is a good answer to this one!
Great article. Thought of a good answer though to number 2 (how lucky are you and why?): "Luck occurs when preparation meets opportunity. I'm prepared and looking for opportunity
Marilyn Cohodas
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Marilyn Cohodas,
User Rank: Author
1/21/2014 | 8:43:57 AM
Re: Your worst interview questions?
LOL! @asksqn! The second most stupid interview question (from the same interview) was "Where do you exect to be in five years?" Now that's a common question. But in this case the position was a contract job and the interviewer worked for the company that was outsourcing my work from  another company. So what happened was: I got the job but at the end of one year, the company didn't renew the outsourcing contract with my employer. 

What I wanted to respond during the interview was: "Where will you be when the contract expires at the end of the year!"
Kristin Burnham
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Kristin Burnham,
User Rank: Author
1/21/2014 | 8:29:52 AM
Re: Those logic puzzles, ugh
^^Great point. If a company asks a question with only one right answer, how does that similar scenario play out in the boardroom when there's a critical decision to make?
Brian.Dean
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Brian.Dean,
User Rank: Ninja
1/20/2014 | 4:13:53 PM
Re: Zappo's at number 1!
When every company on the planet is trying to use technology and save some cash by phone interviews and video interviews etc, putting in such a curve ball would just undermine the whole process.
TullotoeU883
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TullotoeU883,
User Rank: Apprentice
1/20/2014 | 2:29:03 PM
Re: Your worst interview questions?
I think every employer is looking for a mythical employee, just like every employee is working for a mythical situation.

 
TullotoeU883
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TullotoeU883,
User Rank: Apprentice
1/20/2014 | 2:24:41 PM
Re: Those logic puzzles, ugh
Yes, the proposed solution still has everyone divulging their salary.  I am sure we don't all appeciate the math involved, and will believe you when you say that even that was flawed, but even if the math wasn't, you still each shared your salary.
TullotoeU883
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TullotoeU883,
User Rank: Apprentice
1/20/2014 | 2:15:49 PM
Re: Stupid Interview Question
The weight of a plane is important to determine the amount of fuel.  If you are forced to land in the middle of timbuk 2, and can simply truck in jet fuel, but need to know how much, you don't need to know all of those questions, the original question most certainly is not moot, and you are too much of a closed minded rube for use to even offer minimum wage.
anon5781225738
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0%
anon5781225738,
User Rank: Apprentice
1/20/2014 | 10:19:02 AM
Re: Stupid Interview Question
Not stuff your friend in the trunk?
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