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Someone in my network sent me this link to a Fortune Magazine article on job interview questions

There are a few that could be considered behavioural questions (although more "How would you..." than "When have you...").  The problem I see with classifying them as ridiculous is that,for some at least, they might be reasonable in the context of the role.  For example quantum electrodynamics might be very relevent to the Intel role (e.g. if it's in chip design) so a solid understanding of it might be vital.  Similarly the question about why not many people earn over $125k might test the person's ability to explain economic principles or how their political paradigms fit in with the organisation and the demands of the role.

Stephen

maura's picture
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I actually had a lot of fun thinking though how I would answer these.  The comments were priceless - so many people don't understand why questions like these are not only relevant, but quite necessary when interviewing knowledge workers.  Those are the exact same people that these questions were designed to screen out.   Thanks for sharing, Stephen.

jkuntz's picture

Interesting questions to be sure, thanks for the link. What I found especially interesting was reading the comments and how many people said they were dumb questions, a waste of their time, or worse gave answers that would clearly show their lack of critical thinking skills. The funny ones to me were the non critical thinkers. I.E. One answer to how many bricks in shanghai was "pick a number, they don't know either"! LOL. That would be a clear fail, if they think what I am actually interested in is the answer to that question. I was asked once how many golf balls are lost annually in the UK. I was embarrassed and said I don't know where to begin and the interviewer (internal interview, we both knew each other already) gave me a starting point and I quickly clued in and answered the question describing my thinking process. I would have struck out if it were an external interview as I really wasn't prepared for that kind of question. My on-the-spot thinking wasn't great but I "got it" as soon as he gave me a tip and was able to somewhat recover after.

stephenbooth_uk's picture

I'm struggling with that one.  I suppose if you knew how many rounds of golf are played annually and the average number of balls lost per round you could make a reasonable estimate but unless you had that information (or information that allowed you to derive it) I don't see how to get to it.

I've never had one of those sort of question in an actual interview but did have a manager who had a book full of them and would periodically read them out and see who could answer.  My personal favourite was "A sultan is dying.  He has twin sons but is not sure which was born first and should therefore inherit his position as ruler of their lands.  His solution is to decree that the sons shall race of their camels and the son whose camel crosses the finishing line second shall be the new sultan.  On the day of the race the sons start off at normal racing pace but within sight of the finishing line stop and dismount.  After some hours of them milling around a wise man goes to them and says something.  Immediately both leap on a camel and ride hell for leather to the finish line.  What did the wise man say?"

Looking at the questions in the article the one where I immediately saw a solution (although possibly not THE solution) was the one from Apple witht he three mis-labeled barrels.  I figure that as I'm pulling the item of fruit out I'm probably going to feel the other fruit around it in the barrel.  Apples and oranges, even if similar in size, feel different.  If they all felt the same and I see I've pulled out an apple then that barrel is apples so I can correctly label that and as I know that all barrels are incorrectly labeled then which ever of the other two barrels still has a label on it should have the label I took off the barrel I just relabeled and the label on that should be on the third barrel (in this case originally mislabeled 'Apples').  Similarly if  I pull out an Orange.  If the fruit in the barrel feel different then no matter what I pull out I know it's the mixed barrel.  That may not be the expected solution as it uses information not explicitly referenced in the question.  But then I figure that they're looking for someone who can think outside of established rules and so long as I state the assumption upfront I'm covered.

Stephen

 

 

PS the answer to the camel race question is that the wise man pointed out that it is the camel which crosses the line second, not the son, that counts so each jumped onto the others camel.

 

 

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Skype: stephenbooth_uk  | DiSC: 6137

"Start with the customer and work backwards, not with the tools and work forwards" - James Womack

 

bffranklin's picture
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Stephen,

The trick with the fruit is to not discount the statement that all of the boxes are currently incorrectly labeled. 

-Choose to open the box labeled apples and oranges.  Whatever fruit you pull out must be the only fruit in that box.  Correctly label the box.

-The box labeled as the fruit you did not pull out must contain apples and oranges, otherwise it would be labeled correctly.

-The remaining box is only the fruit you didn't pull out.

-Brandon (who likes a good puzzle)

 

stephenbooth_uk's picture

Brandon,

thanks.  I think I was over thinking the problem.

Stephen

 

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Skype: stephenbooth_uk  | DiSC: 6137

"Start with the customer and work backwards, not with the tools and work forwards" - James Womack