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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.

Employment site Glassdoor on Friday plans to publish a list of the Top 25 Oddball Interview Questions for 2014, compiled from tens of thousands of interview questions shared by job seekers last year. Of these, 16 come from tech companies.

Job interviews are nerve-wracking enough, but when combined with ill-conceived questions, they can be downright harrowing.

It doesn't have to be that way. Job interviews can be conducted diligently and respectfully. But both parties have to do their homework. Sadly, that isn't always the case and job interviews, at least during the first round, often include one-size-fits-all questions that amount to being poked with a pole, so a reaction can be recorded and some poorly reasoned conclusion can be drawn.

Now it's probably never advisable to be a snarky job seeker. But if you find yourself confronted by such eye-rolling questions as these and you abandon, then and there, any continued desire to work with a company that doesn't take hiring seriously, here's some fuel to burn bridges.

1) "If you could throw a parade of any caliber through the Zappos office, what type of parade would it be?" -- The Zappos Family, Customer Loyalty Team Member interview.

Since Parade is the most widely read magazine in America, I feel that any issue would be of suitable quality to throw through the office. But I would be reluctant to do so for fear of injuring a coworker. Paper cuts can be painful.

I would return the money for the parade to shareholders.

2) "How lucky are you and why?" -- Airbnb, Content Manager interview.

Luckier than EJ, that woman in San Francisco who rented her apartment out through Airbnb and was subsequently robbed.

Luck can't accurately be measured.

3) "If you were a pizza delivery man, how would you benefit from scissors?" -- Apple, Specialist interview.

I would be equipped to become a pizza delivery woman.

I would also be able to deliver cold cuts.

I'm sorry. I didn't realize auditions for MacGyver were ongoing.

4) "Are you more of a hunter or a gatherer?" -- Dell, Account Manager interview.

They're the same thing once the prey stops moving.

At times like this, I'm convinced I'm a martyr.

5) "If you were on an island and could only bring three things, what would you bring?" -- Yahoo, Search Quality Analyst interview.

Larry Page's yacht, fueled and provisioned, a qualified crew, and a copy of Yahoo For Dummies, to read on the journey home.

Really, such questions only reveal the questioner's laziness. Not enough information is provided to make an informed answer. Maui qualifies as an island. In such a case, a credit card and driver's license would suffice. Were this hypothetical island near the North or South Pole, I might opt for warm clothing to accompany the satellite phone topping my list.

6) "Why is a tennis ball fuzzy?" -- Xerox, Client Manager interview.

Because they're too ornery to shear.

Because you're relying on a cue ball for the relative definition of "fuzzy" rather than a hairball.

To judge whether job applicants know enough about aerodynamics to sail through what has become a standard interview question.

7) "What is your least favorite thing about humanity?" -- ZocDoc, Operations Associate interview.

Being judged by others.

Moments like this that I will never get back.

Inadequately framed questions. There are so many potential answers here, the question is meaningless. Mortality. Disease. Cruelty. Reality television. Does that really tell you anything?

8) "How would you use Yelp to find the number of businesses in the U.S.?" -- Factual, Software Engineer interview.

I'd google it.

Then I'd use the Yelp API to fetch the JSON-formatted business phone number.

9) "How honest are you?" -- Allied Telesis, Executive Assistant interview.

I plead the Fifth.

Honest enough to refuse to answer a question that could only be answered inaccurately.

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anon5781225738
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anon5781225738,
User Rank: Apprentice
1/20/2014 | 10:17:03 AM
Re: Your worst interview questions?
I would ask: What model of 747?  What is the size of the jellybean? What has the carrier doen to the aircraft's interior? Are there any people on board?  What is the average mass of the occupants?  Etc...  If the interviewer can't answer one of the questions accurately, the question is moot.
ytjameslee
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ytjameslee,
User Rank: Apprentice
1/20/2014 | 1:20:41 AM
Zappo's at number 1!
Not surprised to see Zappo's on this list.  I had a phone interview with them once and they actually asked me on a scale of 1 to 10, how weird did I think I was?  The whole interview was just bizarre.
RussellC169
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RussellC169,
User Rank: Apprentice
1/20/2014 | 12:28:49 AM
Re: Those logic puzzles, ugh
Then I would say you answered the question correctly.

 

Avoiding a job where arbitary limitations were set to get the "right" answer.
DarrenD418
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DarrenD418,
User Rank: Apprentice
1/19/2014 | 10:15:52 PM
Re: Those logic puzzles, ugh
Apart from any possible mathematical dubiousness, passing papers around and adding/subtracting numbers is STILL TELLING EACH OTHER YOUR SALARY. Just because you obfuscate it with hashes and additions/subtractions DOES NOT CHANGE THE FUNDAMENTAL FACT YOU ARE TELLING EVERYONE ELSE YOUR SALARY.

I'm not yelling at you, just sharing my frustration with stupid interview questions that I have gone through myself.
jagibbons
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jagibbons,
User Rank: Ninja
1/19/2014 | 4:26:58 PM
Re: Your worst interview questions?
I wonder how most interviewers take it when they are stumped or thrown a curve ball by an answer to a question they've asked. If you ask an oddball question and get an even more bizarre answer, that shows creativity on the part of the applicant, right?
Ariella
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Ariella,
User Rank: Ninja
1/18/2014 | 6:37:24 PM
Re: Your worst interview questions?
@jagibbons that would prove they are even bigger Trek fans than the questioner, right? I know nothing about Archer and only a bit about Pike (seemed a bit more like Kirk than Picard).  Of course, a real geek would have to take Spock or Data as a role model. 
jagibbons
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jagibbons,
User Rank: Ninja
1/18/2014 | 8:25:45 AM
Re: Your worst interview questions?
@Ariela, what would it say about someone who answered Archer or even Christopher Pike? I've never thought of myself as a great interviewer, but I've never asked or been asked any questions as idiotic as these, so I guess that's a good sign.
asksqn
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asksqn,
User Rank: Ninja
1/18/2014 | 3:01:31 AM
Re: Your worst interview questions?
@Marilyn LOL I would have said Flying Leg Kick
asksqn
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asksqn,
User Rank: Ninja
1/18/2014 | 2:57:36 AM
Re: Your worst interview questions?
Q. If you were a color which would it be and why? A. I then broke out into the following chorus >> http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u6d8eKvegLI&feature=youtube_gdata_player
Shane M. O'Neill
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Shane M. O'Neill,
User Rank: Author
1/17/2014 | 5:39:20 PM
Trick question
"Are you a tactician or a strategist?" Not a stupid question, but a trick question because the job was a strategic role. If you said tactician you were cooked. I didn't bite. I said strategist.

But still didn't get the job.

Maybe I should have said I'm a tactical strategist. Or perhaps a strategic tactician?

 
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