16 Stupid Tech Job Interview Questions: Show Your Snark - InformationWeek

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1/17/2014
10:46 AM
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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Kristin Burnham
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Kristin Burnham,
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1/17/2014 | 3:54:58 PM
Re: Your worst interview questions?
My husband was asked how many jellybeans fit inside a 747 aircraft to gauge critical thinking skills. Not necessarily a stupid interview question, but certainly one to trip you up.
Ariella
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Ariella,
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1/17/2014 | 1:59:26 PM
Re: Your worst interview questions?
@Chris He had a good answer there! Another question that knocks some people for a loop is "Where do you see yourself in 5 years." Now I'd be tempted to answer, "I'd have to get a tardis to find out. Then I'll have to be careful not to cause a time paradox by coming in physical contact with my future self. That could be quite a challenge."
ChrisMurphy
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ChrisMurphy,
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1/17/2014 | 1:53:29 PM
Re: Your worst interview questions?
A classmate of mine was going through on-campus consulting interviews, and he was pretty sure the interviewer was working through his stock list of questions, and not looking very closely at the resumes, when he asked: "What would you say is the biggest risk you've ever taken at work?"

My classmate's response: "I'm going to have to go with flying combat missions over Iraq."
Ariella
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Ariella,
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1/17/2014 | 1:03:21 PM
Re: Your worst interview questions?
@Rob I'm sure that fans debate that one! I'd guess that the people who answer Kirk break rules more quickly. So you'd have to know if that's the kind of thinking they want.  One of my kids told me she heard of people applying for a school program being asked what kind of tree they would be. 
RobPreston
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RobPreston,
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1/17/2014 | 12:42:12 PM
Re: Your worst interview questions?
A colleague was asked who the better Enterprise captain was (will be?): Piccard or Kirk? (Kirk, of course.)
David F. Carr
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David F. Carr,
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1/17/2014 | 11:55:05 AM
"I would be equipped to become a pizza delivery woman."
Ouch
Kristin Burnham
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Kristin Burnham,
User Rank: Author
1/17/2014 | 11:26:38 AM
Your worst interview questions?
What's the most ridiculous question you were asked in an interview?
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