Friday, January 07, 2011

The Odd Job Interview

I know that I promised not to regurgitate news to you as much, but this isn't really news so much as it is freaking interesting.  The people at BNET called the people at Glassdoor, which is a job-posting and community website for job seekers, and brought to us the 25 strangest questions that people were asked in an interview in 2010.  I am going to list the question in bold, the company that supposedly asked it in parenthesis, and then my response.  The companies that purportedly asked these questions were all contacted by BNET and while none of them laid claim to any of the questions being theirs, none of them would deny it either.  Imagine if these were the only questions you were asked.  Anyway, here we go:

1.) If you were shrunk to the size of a pencil and put in a blender, how would you get out? (Goldman Sachs) Huh?  Excuse me?  I don't know.  I would probably stand up on the blades and try to jump up and grab the top.  Is the blender running?  I guess I don't really know, I have never thought about it before. I would probably end up getting someone's attention and having them pull me out or I would just get chopped to bits and get poured out.

2.)  How many ridges are there around a quarter? (Deloitte)  I don't know.  26 maybe? No, that's probably not enough.  I don't know.  I can find out for you though if you give me a couple of minutes.

3.)  What is the philosophy of martial arts? (Aflac)  Ummm...don't quote me on this but first of all there are lots of kinds of martial arts and they all sort of have their own ideas and philosophies, but I believe the whole deal is that you have complete control of your mind and body and that they are working in harmony with one another.  I don't know though, because I have never taken any sort of martial arts class or studied martial arts.

4.)  Explain to me what has happened in this country during the last ten years. (Boston Consulting) Huh?  What do you mean by that?  Are you asking my opinion of the direction that this country is heading or do you want me to whip out a history timeline or what?  That is not a very clear question; in fact, it's not even a question at all, it is a command.  Do you want me to use a little blue essay book?  I'm out of here.

5.)  Rate yourself on a scale of 1 to 10 how weird you are. (Capital One)  Eight.

6.)  How many basketballs can you fit in this room? (Google) Couple thousand.  I don't know, I am really bad at estimating size and distance.  You could fit more women's basketballs than men's, I know that much.

7.)  Out of 25 horses, pick the fastest 3 horses. In each race, only 5 horses can run at the same time.  What is the minimum number of races required? (Bloombergn LP)  Five if you have like a stopwatch or something, six if you don't because you'd have five races to go through the 25, and one more race to pit the five winners against one another.

8.)  If you could be any superhero, who would it be? (AT&T) I don't know.  Not Superman or Batman or the Green Lantern or anything.  Someone who could make themselves invisible.  Yeah the flying and super strong things are nice, but I would rather be invisible so I can go wherever I want and then I can always know what is going on.  Just make sure that I can still be visible when I want to be, you know?

9.)  You have a birthday cake and have exactly three slices to cut it into either equal pieces. How do you do it? (Blackrock Portfolio Management) Cut it in half horizontally, then cut it into quarters from the top. (Note: Then I would make the motions with my hands to show how it works.)

10.)  Given the numbers 1 to 1000, 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? (Facebook)  One.  If I guess the right number on my first guess I don't need to guess any more.

11.)  If you had 5,623 participants in a tournament, how many games would need to be played to determine the winner? (Amazon)  Am I allowed to use a piece of paper or a calculator?  Let's see, at 64 you need 64 to 32 equals 1, 32 to 16 equals two, 16 to 8 equals three, 8 to 4 equals four, 4 to 2 equals five, and 2 to 1 equals six, so 64 is six, 128 would be seven, 256 would be eight, 512 would be nine, 1024 would be ten, 2048 would be eleven, 4096 would be twelve, 8192 would be twelve, so you would need twelve rounds, but you play half as many games in each round as there are teams, but there are only 5623 teams so there would be a lot of byes in the first round, so I don't know, a lot?  Does this job include setting up a lot of tournaments or something?

12.)  An apple costs 20 cents, an orange costs 40 cents, and a grapefruit costs 60 cents.  How much is a pear? (Epic Systems)  What kind of question is that?  I don't know. You haven't given me enough information to figure it out.  That is like me asking you "Sally's car is red, Jim's car is blue, what is the color of the car I was parked next to at the airport last week?"  There is no way you can figure it out.  The cost of a pear is dependent on so many factors, from the price of gasoline to the recent weather in Chile.  But I am going to say 40 cents because that is the average cost of fruit in your question.

13.)  There are three boxes.  One contains only apples, one contains only oranges, and one contains both apples and oranges.  The boxes have been labeled such that no label identifies the actual contents of the box.  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? (Apple)  Can't be done unless you have an app for that.  Just kidding.  I would see what smell comes out of the box I guess.

14.)  How many traffic lights are there in Manhattan? (Argus Information and Advisory Services)  I have never been to Manhattan.  I don't know that off the top of my head, I am sure there are a lot.  I can find out for you.

15.)  You are in a dark room with no light.  You have 19 gray socks and 25 black socks.  What are the chances you will get a matching pair? (Convergex)  Well, on any pick you have a 25 in 44 chance of getting a black sock, and you will have to pick twice.  I remember being taught how to figure this out back in my junior year of high school, but to be honest I can't remember how it is done.

16.)  What do wood and alcohol have in common? (Guardsmark)  They both can burn.  I should say, they both can be burned as fuel.  Alcohol can be made from wood.  They are both organic compounds, just off the top of my head.

17.)  How do you weigh an elephant without using a weigh machine? (IBM)  Use displacement.  Throw him in a lake.

18.)  You have eight pennies. Seven weigh the same, but one weighs less.  You also have a judges scale. Find the penny that weighs less in three steps. (Intel)  Weigh four on one side and four on the other.  Take the four that weigh less and split them into two and two.  Weight two on each side.  Take the two that weigh less and put on on each side of the scale.  The one that weighs less is the one.

19.)  Why do you think that only a small portion of the population makes over $150,000? (New York Life) Because $150,000 is a lot of money, especially when coupled with health benefits, pension, etc.  Most companies would go bankrupt paying a bunch of employees over $150,000.

20.)  You are in charge of 20 people.  Organize them to figure out how many bicycles were sold in your area last year. (Schlumberger)  What?  That makes no sense.  What would you define as my "area"?  How long do I have to do this?  I would keep one person to tabulate the stats.  Then I would have two people to canvas the "area" bicycle shops and get sales numbers from them.  Then I would have two people to do the big box stores, Wal-Mart, etc.  Then the rest I would have on Internet sellers because there are so many places that sell bikes and stuff online.  It might take awhile unless there is some sort of association that already tracks that sort of figure, then we can just call them and make up a chart or something.

21.)  How many bottles of beer are [consumed] in the city [in a] week? (Nielsen)  Which city?  Which week?  There would be a lot more consumed on a week that includes New Year's than on just some random week in February.  But I can find out for you if you give me some time.

22.)  What is the square root of 2000? (UBS)  The square root of 2000.  It is somewhere around 45 or so.  I don't know off the top of my head but I could find out for you.

23.)  A train leaves San Antonio for Houston at 60 mph. Another train leaves Houston for San Antonio at 80 mph.  Houston and San Antonio are 300 miles apart.  If a bird leaves San Antonio at 100 mph, and turns around and flies back once it reaches the Houston train, and continues to fly between the two, how far will it have flown when they collide? (USAA)  First of all, you are an insurance company, aren't you?  Second of all I am going to need some paper and a calculator and maybe a textbook and a pretty good amount of time.  You might want to get some coffee.

24.)  How are M&M's made? (US Bank)  In a factory.  If there is something inside they would start with that, then pour the chocolate over in some sort of mold or something, then they cover it in the candy shell.  If there is nothing inside then skip step one.

25.)  What would you do if you just inherited a pizzeria from your uncle? (Volkswagen)  Well, first of all I would be astonished that I had an uncle with a pizzeria, because I don't.  Second, I would do one of two things.  1.) I would quit my job to manage the place on a day-to-day basis or 2.) I would keep at my job and let whomever is managing it right now continue.  It would depend on how my uncle was doing it, the job I had at the time I inherited it, and how the pizzeria was doing.  Generally though I would leave things alone if they were working alright, and I maybe tweak things here and there as I learn the business and figure out what might be able to be done differently.  I would really have to learn how things work before that though.

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