11 Of The Oddest Interview Questions Of 2011

confused woman interview questionsPerhaps the most anxiety-producing part of any job application process is the interview. In part, that's because job seekers have little way of knowing just what kinds of questions interviewers will be asking.

Further, today's savvy employers have moved beyond the archetypal "Tell me where you see yourself in five years" kind of query to more sophisticated and even quirky questions that can help them quickly discern whether a candidate is the right person for the job and the organization.

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With that in mind, Glassdoor, an online jobs and career forum, has compiled its annual list of Top 25 Oddball Interview Questions based on the tens of thousands of submissions from job candidates during the past year. Here is a sampling of them:

  • "How many people are using Facebook in San Francisco at 2:30 p.m. on a Friday?" -- Asked at Google Inc., Vendor Relations Manager candidate.
  • "Just entertain me for five minutes; I'm not going to talk." -- Asked at Acosta Sales & Marketing, leadership development program associate candidate.
  • "If Germans were the tallest people in the world, how would you prove it?" -- Asked at Hewlett-Packard Co., product marketing manager candidate.
  • "Given 20 'destructible' light bulbs (which break at a certain height), and a building with 100 floors, how do you determine the height that the light bulbs break?" -- Asked at Qualcomm Inc., engineering candidate.
  • "What do you think of garden gnomes?" -- Asked at Trader Joe's (grocery chain), team member candidate.
  • "Is your college GPA reflective of your potential?" -- Asked at the Advisory Board Co., strategic marketing associate candidate.
  • "Would Mahatma Gandhi have made a good software engineer?" -- Asked at Deloitte, analyst candidate.
  • "How would you cure world hunger?" -- Asked at Amazon.com, software developer candidate.
  • "Room, desk and car -- which do you clean first?" -- Asked at Pinkberry Inc. (yogurt chain), shift lead candidate.
  • "Does life fascinate you?" -- Asked at Ernst & Young, tax analyst candidate.
  • "Please spell 'diverticulitis.'" -- Asked at EMSI Engineering Inc., account manager candidate.

Also, though employment candidates should be ready to take on some challenging and oddball interview questions, Glassdoor says job seekers should also expect and be prepared to be asked some basic or common interview questions, such as:

  • "What are your strengths and weaknesses?"
  • "Why did you apply for this job?"

And, of course:

  • "Where do you see yourself in five years?"



Next: 11 Of The Stupidest Employees Of 2011



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David Schepp

Staff Writer

David Schepp has spent more than a dozen years covering business news for the electronic and print media, including Dow Jones Newswires, BBC News, Gannett Co., and most recently at AOL's DailyFinance. Nearly 10 years ago, he started writing a weekly People@Work column, looking in depth at issues facing workers in today's workplace. The syndicated column appeared in newspapers and websites nationwide before it made its debut on DailyFinance in 2010. Schepp now continues that tradition at Aol Jobs, covering the jobs beat and providing readers insight and analysis into the nation's challenging employment scene.

Schepp holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in journalism from Metropolitan State College of Denver.

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kingofnothing

The questions are not a waste of time but offer an insight to how well they think on their feet. With 90% of companies using the same basic questions you can very easily have answer prepared before an interview. These questions also show how well versed you would be when speaking with a client that may ask questions you are not prepared for. Past experiences, degrees, and the ability to learn does not necessarily make the best candidate. Someone with people skills, creative thought and proven leadership will - these oddball questions tell a potential employer a lot about that person.

January 28 2012 at 4:28 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
hari.sankar

Dear Sir/Madam,
I am P. Hari Sankar, MBA(Finance) in year 2011,from osmani university
,Hyderabad,India
looking for career in
Accounts & finance
please consider me
It will be very helpful for me if you give an opportunity

Thanks and Regards
Hari Sankar
+91-9703851351
hari.sankar@aol.com

January 09 2012 at 12:15 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
jeviga

I once interviewed for a job with an oil company. The interviewer asked me if I knew what depletion, intangible drilling costs, operating expenses and lease and well equipment was....
My answer was nope never heard of them...
I got the job and asked why? He said since I was the only applicant I was hired.
I stayed with the company 12 years. learned everythng about the oil business and struck out on my own in 1977 and am still at it 33 years later....

January 02 2012 at 10:31 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Deadeye

If I had to clean my room and desk and car the way I went about doing it would depend on the weather : )

January 02 2012 at 10:23 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
kb6v

D-I-V-E-R-T-I-C-U-L-I-T-I-S. It's what killed my father.

January 02 2012 at 5:33 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
dafowler1

My son was asked at the end of an interview, "If you were a kind of candy, what would you be and why?" His answer: "Snickers, because I'm smooth on the outside and a little nutty on the inside."

He got the job!

However moronic the questions may seem, sometimes interviewers just want to see how creative you are and how quickly you think on your feet.

January 02 2012 at 2:57 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
villigord

I dont mind philosophical questions, or questions which are intended to assess ability to make quick decisions. What bothers me are those intended to dermine age. After a professional person has been in the working world for at least 15 years, what does it MATTER what year you graduated from HIGH SCHOOL. Some applications now require month/day/year of birth. This is outright discrimination. I have noticed that when I am forced to disclose my birth date on an application, I never get a single call. If I have to disclose it in an interview, I dont get a call back - regardless of how perfectly qualitifed I am for the job. Shouldnt it be illegal to ask those sort of questions UNTIL its time for the HR Department to sign the new employee up for benefits? Im sure someone will reply to this post, so when you do, PLEASE tell me why this practice is allowed? Happy New Year Everybody!

January 01 2012 at 11:53 PM Report abuse +2 rate up rate down Reply
2 replies to villigord's comment
flphotographer4u

I am with you 100 % until hired

The only question that should be asked is one asking if your over the of 18, 21, or 25 and this is due to either insurance or Federal State Goverment laws such as OHSA and Child Labor Laws

And yes folks I am 53 and feel I have been discriminated in the past by companies hiring younger workers due to concerns for my age.

January 02 2012 at 1:27 AM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply
pito01

I have had this same feeling regarding applications that ask whether you are a veteran and if you say yes, then they ask if you are a Viet-Nam vet. When I respond that I am in fact a Viet Nam Vet, I never hear back from that employer. Clearly that question is intended to screen out applicants that are old enough to have served in the military during the Viet Nam conflict. The disservice that has been done to those of us what served still continues.

January 12 2012 at 4:57 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
sbbunten

While I understand that at first glance, these questions do seem silly, if you consider the position being applied for, they make a lot of sense. The engineer being asked about light bulbs better know that a binary approach to the problem is the only way to find the answer with only 20 test cases. The leadership development candidate will likely be spending a significant amount of time speaking and presenting, and needs to be entertaining, and quick on his/her feet. And a marketing manager really should know how to study, and correctly apply statistics. The questions can seem silly, especially for someone who isn't actually qualified for the position being interviewed for, but they can expose a weakness, or be an opportunity to really shine, for an actually qualified candidate.

January 01 2012 at 10:47 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
D D

It's amazing that employers have the balls to ask stupid questions like these when people are so desperate for employment. I don't care what the logic behind it is, it is meaningless. What should matter is work experience, a degree, and an obvious drive to learn and take on new challenges. Not stupid riddles. That goes to show how many people are on power trips and take advantage of desperate hopefuls.

January 01 2012 at 9:40 PM Report abuse +7 rate up rate down Reply
RJILL4853

All HR people are in the business of hiring the stupidest people to fill the position for the lowerest wage to the most competent people. All the time they have in there mind this is my company and I don't want to pay this dumb son of a bitch any more than i have to. So if there dumb enough to sit through this interview they are dumd enough to hire, and hopefully won't ask what the job would actually pay. keep them stupid and poor.

January 01 2012 at 7:16 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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