Bizarre Tech Job Interview Questions

MajorDomo

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Think getting a tech job interview can be a difficult task in itself? Sure it is, but what to do when faced with bizarre interview questions to land that dream job. It would be hard just to keep a straight face. :D

Job community Glassdoor.com has published the 25 oddest interview questions of 2010, based on more than 80,000 questions shared by candidates on its Web site
 

Taco

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Or 1. Since that technically would be the minimum amount needed.
 

Aditlojs

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Most of those are pretty easy as I read them but I am sure the pressure of the job interview could skew things a great deal.

And they misspelled Houston...
 

PNut12345

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"There are three boxes, one contains only apples, one contains only oranges, and one contains both apples and oranges. The boxes have been incorrectly labeled such that no label identifies the actual contents of the box it labels. Opening just one box, and without looking in the box, you take out one piece of fruit. By looking at the fruit, how can you immediately label all of the boxes correctly?" – asked at Apple, Software QA Engineer position"

Easy, tell the customer to buy an iphone 4
 

nobody_here

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Most of those are pretty easy as I read them but I am sure the pressure of the job interview could skew things a great deal.

And they misspelled Houston...

that was the first thing i noticed.....whoever submitted that and then the guy who was responsible for editing at the yahoo website should both have a few questions asked of them starting with, "How do you spell Houston?"
 

hawtrawkr

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Or 1. Since that technically would be the minimum amount needed.

was just explaining that to my girlfriend that the higher or lower is a red herring for the most part. Minimum number of guesses would be 1.
 

Taco

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Most people would try to do the math and some would be capable of answering it this way while some would not. And others would give the literal answer of 1. All three answers tell you about a person, so who knows. Maybe the only incorrect answer is horribly screwing up the math.
 

Taco

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You don't think they're looking for a non-trivial answer?

In short, no, I doubt they are simply looking to test your mathematical abilities as much as how you digest and analyze a problem.
 

temujin987

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You have 8 pennies, 7 weigh the same, one weighs less. You also have a judges scale. Find the one that weighs less in less than 3 steps.

binary search. but that would require 3 steps and not less than 3. :confused:
 

Powerage

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In short, no, I doubt they are simply looking to test your mathematical abilities as much as how you digest and analyze a problem.
You think there is more skill involved analyzing this problem and saying the answer is 1 than analyzing it and understanding why the answer is 10?
 

Dantrax

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If answer is 1 or 1000 correct answer is 1 question. Higher or lower than 2 or 999?
 

Dantrax

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"There are three boxes, one contains only apples, one contains only oranges, and one contains both apples and oranges. The boxes have been incorrectly labeled such that no label identifies the actual contents of the box it labels. Opening just one box, and without looking in the box, you take out one piece of fruit. By looking at the fruit, how can you immediately label all of the boxes correctly?" – asked at Apple, Software QA Engineer position"

Easy, tell the customer to buy an iphone 4

You're hired you lucky bastard !!!
 

Taco

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You think there is more skill involved analyzing this problem and saying the answer is 1 than analyzing it and understanding why the answer is 10?

You are missing the point. Not going to bother further explaining it to you.
 

Big D.

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I think that if you answered "1" or took the time to think, it would show them what kind of person you are, how you think, etc. I don't think getting it right is the point of that question.

I do like that for those software engineer/programmer jobs, they actually had math questions, because that makes perfect sense. Most of my interviews involved questions in no way related to the job I was trying to get asked by people who knew nothing about that job or field, so at least these questions are more or less related to the job.
 

/usr/sbin

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How do you weigh an elephant without using a weigh machine?" - asked at IBM, Software Engineer position

The didn't mention anything about not being able to measure volume.

Solvable by water displacement.
 

JamesL

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I'm pretty sure the interviewer is trying to see how quickly and intuitively you grasp the fact that 2^10 = 1024...
The guy that tries to work out the equation isn't smart enough, and the guy that says 1 is "that guy"... who's either too lazy, doesn't know the answer, or just trying to be a smartass..

These are all really easy questions imo.. the hardest part for me would be trying to picture the train&bird problem in my head without a pen & paper.
 

MrGuvernment

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^^ that is the point of most of them i assume, companies want to see how you think and analyze a problem and come to a solution, many people cant think outside the box anymore it seems.
 

JamesL

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The didn't mention anything about not being able to measure volume.

Solvable by water displacement.

my immediate thought, but you'd also have to find the density by seeing which liquids it sinks/floats in.

You can also put it in a truck and see how much your gas-bill comes out to after a mile.
weight -> mass -> force -> energy -> fuel -> money
 

Cyrilix

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You are missing the point. Not going to bother further explaining it to you.

Actually, you're missing the point. They're looking for someone that understand what a "binary search" means, and how to apply it.
 

jiminator

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it was for a programming position and the interviewer was not asking a trick question where the answer is 1.
and this directly relates to being able to do a binary search, which hopefully most programmers can do.
 

Powerage

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You are missing the point. Not going to bother further explaining it to you.
Okay, go ahead and give that answer during an interview and enjoy not getting the job.

I'll never understand how questions like these are considered bizarre on any level. They seem to be pretty on point with what you're expected to be able to do in the position.
 

hawtrawkr

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it was for a programming position and the interviewer was not asking a trick question where the answer is 1.
and this directly relates to being able to do a binary search, which hopefully most programmers can do.

well admittedly I am not a programer, but if someone asks me what the minimum number of guesses it will take to guess a number between 1 and 1,000 or 1 in 10,000,000 the answer is always going to be one. If they wanted to ask how to do it via binary search well thats a horse of a different color.

From the numbers I've seen I pull in more in a year than most facebook software engineers do so Ill still stand by my answer for the question given.
 

kllrnohj

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well admittedly I am not a programer, but if someone asks me what the minimum number of guesses it will take to guess a number between 1 and 1,000 or 1 in 10,000,000 the answer is always going to be one. If they wanted to ask how to do it via binary search well thats a horse of a different color.

No, it won't. The question is asking for a generic solution to the problem. As in, what is the most optimized way to search for a number in a range of sorted numbers? What is the minimum number of guesses it will take that you can guarantee? 1 would just be a lucky guess. If you answer 1, you are wrong. You can never promise you'll find the number in 1 guess, that's impossible (unless the range is also 1). It's a straightforward binary search question - there isn't anything weird about it at all. Maybe to non-programmers it is weird, but it certainly isn't for the position in question.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Binary_search_algorithm#Number_guessing_game
 

Sly

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I'd have fun with that question! :D

Throw the elephant in a pool and check out how much water gets displaced. Since water is a known value, you can calculate the weigh from that.

Just don't ask me the formula.
 

Wrench00

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Yeah I had a job interview by an american company in canada. It was fucked up, they asked me non tech related questions for a tech position then I had to spend 1.5 hours filling out a phsyc or some shit profile with questions that ranged from what was Michael Jordan famous for to who was Milton Freedman. I got asked some weird shit like about legality of marijuana which in B.C. Canada are very different then stick up yer ass United States of Paranoia. I don't smoke but they were just wrong questions. How I talked to my family and treated family members. It was epicaly retarted shit.
 

hawtrawkr

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No, it won't. The question is asking for a generic solution to the problem. As in, what is the most optimized way to search for a number in a range of sorted numbers? What is the minimum number of guesses it will take that you can guarantee? 1 would just be a lucky guess. If you answer 1, you are wrong. You can never promise you'll find the number in 1 guess, that's impossible (unless the range is also 1). It's a straightforward binary search question - there isn't anything weird about it at all. Maybe to non-programmers it is weird, but it certainly isn't for the position in question.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Binary_search_algorithm#Number_guessing_game

"given the numbers 1 to 1,000, what is the minimum number of guesses needed to find a specific number if you are given the hint "higher" or "lower" for each guess you make?"

doesnt ask anything like what you say it does. Nowhere in the question does it say I need to do it in the most optimized way and that I need to be able to repeat it. Certainly from a programming standpoint I could see how that could be assumed but it certainly isnt stated. Question asks whats the minimum number of guesses needed.
 

precariousgray

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binary search. but that would require 3 steps and not less than 3. :confused:

I posted this comment on the article, but I'll paste it here for no reason in particular.

Some may think the "less than three steps" for the penny question is an error, but it isn't.

What you want to do is place three pennies on each side of the scale, which results in the following:

- Both sides are equal, in which case you can discard those six pennies.
- One side weighs more, meaning you would discard those three, and the two set aside.

With the first possibility, you merely weigh the two pennies which were not on the scale. With the second, you simply weigh two of the three pennies, and should be able to figure out which weighs less from there.

Two steps. Less than three.
 

jiminator

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eh, look. no doubt most of you have worked with stupid people at one time.
all of these questions appear to me to be a method of weeding them out.
you may not have to get the questions right, as long as you can give some type of intelligent answer

probably a lot of these are questions you see in IQ tests.
I doubt companies can give an IQ test, I don't think it is illegal to discriminate based on an IQ test
but it is certainly not the type of thing that would attract good applicants.
 

Cyrilix

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"given the numbers 1 to 1,000, what is the minimum number of guesses needed to find a specific number if you are given the hint "higher" or "lower" for each guess you make?"

doesnt ask anything like what you say it does. Nowhere in the question does it say I need to do it in the most optimized way and that I need to be able to repeat it. Certainly from a programming standpoint I could see how that could be assumed but it certainly isnt stated. Question asks whats the minimum number of guesses needed.

You're not a software developer, so you don't even remotely have the sense or understanding what they're asking for in a software position. Instead of waving your e-penis and flaunting your credentials, you could just admit that you're wrong and accept that people that have actually taken many software engineering interviews know what the question is asking.
 

Blazestorm

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Throw the elephant in a pool and check out how much water gets displaced. Since water is a known value, you can calculate the weigh from that.

Just don't ask me the formula.

I didn't see this post but I had the same idea when I read this question...

My other idea was to stick it on a semi and drive it through one of those weigh stations with / without the elephant on and find the difference... although that's kinda of using a scale.
 

NSexton

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I didn't see this post but I had the same idea when I read this question...

My other idea was to stick it on a semi and drive it through one of those weigh stations with / without the elephant on and find the difference... although that's kinda of using a scale.

If you could use a weighing station, why would you need the semi?
 

hawtrawkr

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You're not a software developer, so you don't even remotely have the sense or understanding what they're asking for in a software position. Instead of waving your e-penis and flaunting your credentials, you could just admit that you're wrong and accept that people that have actually taken many software engineering interviews know what the question is asking.

from the ones Ive seen in the past (this is hardly a new or revolutionary post as Ive seen them before here on [H]) I know there are plenty of trick questions asked at companies like google.

the way the question was stated I have answered it. If they dont want to hire me as a result Im ok with that. Theres a million better ways they could have worded it to get what is implied, but here we are.

and sorry the E-Peen continues to grow and grow! :rolleyes:
 
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