That might sound like a ridiculous question, but to a job candidate-at least one reportedly applying for a job at Goldman Sachs
-it might actually be an important one.
Glassdoor, a job-posting and community site for job-seekers, has compiled a list of the oddest interview questions of 2010, and that zinger-reportedly from Goldman-wins the number one slot. "Interviews can be an extremely nerve wracking experience, and by shedding light on the process we hope to give job seekers a leg up in their next interview," says Robert Hohman, co-founder and CEO of Glassdoor.
Glassdoor combed through 80,000 interview questions shared by job candidates on its site to find the wackiest queries. Glassdoor is not able to independently verify that these questions were actually asked, or who asked them.
BNET contacted all of the companies who made top 25, and among those who responded, none were able to confirm the origin of the questions. But none of them denied that the questions had been used, either (though some said these questions were not part of a standard set used by all interviewers), and some even offered a possible explanation as to what kind of answer the interviewer was after.
Think you're prepared for your next interview? Well, if you can answer these, you probably are:
- If you were shrunk to the size of a pencil and put in a blender, how would you get out?
- How many ridges are there around a quarter? (Reportedly from Deloitte)
- What is the philosophy of martial arts? (A spokesperson for Aflac, where this question was used, says she hopes the candidate quoted Kwai Chang Caine from the 1970s TV show Kung Fu: "I seek not to know the answers, but to understand the questions.")
- Explain to me what has happened in this country during the last 10 years (Reportedly from Boston Consulting)
- Rate yourself on a scale of 1 to 10 how weird you are (Reportedly from Capital One)
- How many basketballs can you fit in this room? (Reportedly from Google)
- 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? (Reportedly from Bloomberg LP)
- If you could be any superhero, who would it be? (Reportedly from AT&T)
- You have a birthday cake and have exactly three slices to cut it into eight equal pieces. How do you do it? (Reportedly from Blackrock Portfolio Management)
- 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? (Reportedly from Facebook)
- If you had 5,623 participants in a tournament, how many games would need to be played to determine the winner? (Reportedly from Amazon)
- An apple costs 20 cents, an orange costs 40 cents, and a grapefruit costs 60 cents. How much is a pear? (Reportedly from Epic Systems)
- 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 its 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? (Reportedly from Apple)
- How many traffic lights are in Manhattan? (Reportedly from Argus Information and Advisory Services)
- You are in a dark room with no light. You have 19 grey socks and 25 black socks. What are the chances you will get a matching pair? (Reportedly from Convergex)
- What do wood and alcohol have in common? (Reportedly from Guardsmark)
- How do you weigh an elephant without using a weigh machine? (Reportedly from IBM)
- You have 8 pennies. Seven weigh the same, but one weighs less. You also have a judges scale. Find the penny that weighs less in three steps. (Reportedly from Intel)
- Why do you think only a small portion of the population makes over $150,000? (Reportedly from New York Life)
- You are in charge of 20 people. Organize them to figure out how many bicycles were sold in your area last year. (Reportedly from Schlumberger)
- How many bottles of beer are [consumed] in the city [in a] week? (Reportedly from Nielsen)
- What's the square root of 2000? (Reportedly from UBS)
- A train leaves San Antonio for Houston at 60 mph. Another train leaves Houson 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? (Reportedly from USAA)
- How are M&Ms made? (Reportedly from USBank)
- What would you do if you just inherited a pizzeria from your uncle? (This question comes from Volkswagen. A spokeswoman for the company tells BNET while the question is certainly not standard, the company's business analysts often have to take over and manage projects started by other people, so this question may have been a manager's attempt to see how a job candidate would run a project they 'inherited.')
Surprisingly, it really is possible to hit these questions out of the park. In our next post, we'll show you how. In the meantime, what was the weirdest interview question you were asked, and how did you answer it?
Kimberly Weisul is a freelance writer, editor and editorial consultant. She was most recently a senior editor at BusinessWeek and founding editor of BusinessWeek SmallBiz, an award-winning bimonthly magazine for entrepreneurs. Follow her on twitter.com/weisul.
Weisul, Kimberly. "The 25 Weirdest Interview Questions of 2010 | BNET." BNET – The CBS Interactive Business Network. Web. 25 May 2011. <http://www.bnet.com/blog/business-research/the-25-weirdest-interview-questions-of-2010/520?tag=content;drawer-container>.