Weird interview questions
What's the weirdest question you've been asked at interview?
I've had a couple of real blinders but I'll save those until there's some extra data in case the person who asked me them posts here.
Hand's down wierdest?
During the late 70s and early eighties, I often would find the interviewer scanning through a folder of my paperwork. Invariably, he'd note that I have interviewed for the same position three or five times. I agree that yes, he has interviewed me for this exact position several times over the last couple years ... which would always draw the question:
"Why didn't we hire you last time?"
I kid you not. How the fuck would *I* know why he didn't hire me?
Needless to say, following this experience, I only gave the HR droids two shots at me during my 9-5 career ... the way I figure it, in this scenario HR is looking to keep a job, not looking to actually fill a position permanently.
I was interviewed for a "research job" by one bloke who read out two pages of acronyms and asked me what they were, the entire interview was needless to say a disaster, plus the "research job" turned out to be nothing of the sort. When asked by the agent how it went I told him I wouldn't give the idiot a job in a million years, the response was "but he was interviewing you!", er yeah....
A mate told me this one. He found an HR droid giggling to himself in the pub and bought him a beer to get the story.
They'd been interviewing a candidate who had an impressive CV and who countered every question with a referral back to it. E.g:
"We frequently encounter time pressure due to legislative changes. How would you deal with this?"
"Well, if you look at my CV, you will find that while I was working for XYZ, I ran a project where the scope repeatedly changed. Through keeping tight control of planning.........etc, etc, etc."
"Well, we also find that we sometimes have to respond rapidly. How do you ensure that resource availability is managed?"
"If you look at my CV, you'll see that while I was working for ABC we had a project where the deadline moved forward. I was forced to work with my staff to reschedule holidays.......etc, etc, etc."
Then the punchline:
"As a follow up to that last, we often see changes that render existing projects moot. Say you had moved heaven and earth to acheive a date, including cancelling holidays and such, only to find that on that date it was not going ahead. How would you feel about that?"
"Well if you look at my CV in the 'Hobbies and interests' section, you'll see that I am a season ticket holder at Tottenham Hotspur. I'm used to handling disappointment....."
"What's the weight of a bale of hay?"
Of course, afterwards I figured it was one of those super-groovy Google questions like "how many golf-balls can you fit in a school bus" and it was meant to be a thought exercise. But sadly, the farmer's son in me kicked in and I gave them this -
"Small bales, big square bales or round bales? It all basically depends on how tight the knotters are set because this controls how much hay is backed into the set volume of the bale. In theory, you could max out small bales at around 9 stone (about fifty kilos) but the string would snap on lifting so realistically they tend to go at about half to three quarters of that. And then you have to allow to for how damp the hay is because after cutting and turning, it will always be a bit damp even if that's just from dew. I could look up the weight of round bales or big square bales but in practice you're going to be using a loader with those anyway so it ain't much of an issue.... er. You've gone very quiet?"
The problem is, nobody knows how many golf balls fit in a school bus because nobody needs to know. But when you have 3000 small bales to stack by hand, the weight is pretty important.
I once had an interview for a job where the two technical members of the panel had already seen their preferred candidate, and were now just going through the motions.
Right at the end the third member, a senior manager (naturally), asked his one and only question.
Interviewer: "What would you do if I gave you an elephant right now?"
Me: "I would be very concerned."
Interviewer: "Concerned? Concerned about what?"
Me: "Well concerned that I was being interviewed by somebody who spontaneously gives elephants to strangers. Is it something you feel compelled to do?"
Interviewer: "It was a rhetorical question."
Me: "So I don't get the elephant then?"
The other two members of the panel collapsed in hysterics at this point and he stormed out of the room. For some reason I wasn't offered the job.
Elephants, as a rule, aren't very flat. Not very like a ruler either, come to think of it. Maybe if you put'em inside a snake?
Er, time for the pills already, nurse? How time flies... uhm, like an arrow? Somewhat like how fruit flies like a banana? You know, the fruit that doesn't know when to stop. What's with the elephant tranq gun, nurse?
Interviewed at a unix consultancy once. Guy started with saying something along the lines of being a long-time unix guy. So I countered with "where's your beard then, eh?" -- and got an apology.
Seemed to've worked as a conversation starter, the rest of the interview was mostly friendly. Didn't pursue it though, at the time really didn't want to move down there.
I bid on a contract for a un*x shop once. I won the contract without a face-to-face interview. When I walked in on the first morning, the guy in charge of the data center looked startled & exclaimed "Where's your beard?!" ... Despite over a third of a century of un*x experience, I do not now, and never have had, a beard. Still makes me chuckle, though :-)
Boss: I'm sorry, Dr. Wallace.. but I'm afraid we're looking for someone with a little more experience to fill our Chief Resident position.
Applicant: I understand. So, did I get the job?
Boss: No. you didn't.
Applicant: [ relieved ] Thank you! You won't regret this! I'll see you Monday morning!
Boss: You didn't get the job. [ Applicant exits, as he speaks into his intercom ] Debbie.. please send in the next applicant.
[ Centaur enters ]
You must be Dr. Lemmon. It's a pleasure to finally meet you. You've come highly recommended.
Centaur: Well, a couple of those recommendations came from Yale men, so I hope you won't hold that against me.
Boss: [ laughs ] Well.. as you know, we're becoming a teaching hospital. Sit, please. [ he does, but the Centaur remains standing ] Our new Chief Resident will help lead that transition.
Centaur: Uh, well.. at Johns-Hopkins, I actually shared the faculty committee that oversaw coordination between the school and the hospital.
Boss: As I said, your qualifications are most impressive.
Centaur: Thank you.
Boss: Now.. would you mind if I asked you a few questions about being a Centaur?
Centaur: Please. Go ahead. Believe me, I've heard them all?
Boss: Can I ride you?
Centaur: [ chuckles ] Only if I can ride you!
Boss: [ chuckles back ] Fair enough. Moving on.. could you enter yourself in the Kentucky Derby?
Centaur: Hmm.. I don't know..
Boss: If you did.. would you have to have a little horse riding on you, like instead of a jockey?
Centaur: I.. I see what you're saying.. but, again, I don't know.
Boss: Because, it seems like you already have a jockey with the person part of you.
Centaur: Right.. uh, are we going to discuss my medical qualifications..?
Boss: The rest of the interview will be Centaur questions. Do you have sex with horses, or with human women?
Centaur: Uh.. neither. I'm really only attracted to other Centaurs.
Boss: Okay. What if were a horse with a mask of a woman on it?
Centaur: No. I mean, would you have sex with a monkey if it had a mask on?
Boss: This interview is not about me. What if you saw a horse, but it was standing so that its head was in a barn, or something. Would you, maybe, be attracted to that horse's rear end?
Centaur: Uh.. I don't.. where is the head, exactly?
Boss: It's in the barn.. or behind a door, or a vase, or something.. so you can't see it.
Centaur: Uh.. I might be attracted to it - briefly.
Boss: Okay. So, let's say, hypothetically, that you could have sex with the back end.. and it's guranteed to be the greatest sex you ever had.. but you'd never know if it was as horse or as Centaur?
Centaur: Hmm.. you know, that's pretty intriguing.. uh.. if I'd really never know, I guess I would.
Boss: It was a horse.
Centaur: Oh, come on!
Boss: It was a horse. Deal with it. Now.. could you make the back half of you into glue, and then could the person part of you use that glue to repair a bird feeder?
Boss: Do you dump wherever you're standing, or do you use toilets? Or, do you use some magical Centaur toilet?
Centaur: We use regular bathrooms.
Boss: Do you use special Centaur toilet paper?
Centaur: Nope. We use nortmal toilet paper.
Boss: How do you reach back there.. to wipe yourself?
Centaur: Uh.. there is a device we use, it's called an Aubesian - it's a stainless steel telescoping rod, with gripper claws, and a sort of toggle line that allows you to move the paper back and forth.
Boss: So.. there's a company that manufactures Centaur asswipers?
Centaur: Aubesians, yes. Um.. there's a store that's a sort of crate-and-barrel for Centaurs, called Aubesians & Such.. there's one on 57th Street.
Boss: I've seen that establishment. You eat steak.. is that some kind of cannibalism?
Centaur: I'm sorry, could we return to a line of questioning related to my medical qualifications?
Boss: Absolutely. Let me just find the right paperwork.. [ looks through his notes ] Um.. here we go.. Is there Centaur pornography?
Centaur: That is not a medical question!
Boss: Do you want this job?
Centaur: [ sighs ] Yes, there is Centaur porn.
Boss: If I were to watch Centaur porn.. but with the bottom of the screen blocked out with a piece of cardboard.. would I find the human halves of the female actresses appealing?
Centaur: Well.. maybe.. But you've got to remember that, at some point, there's gonna be a horse penis in there.
Boss: Fair enough. I think that's all the Centaur questions I have. I want to thank you for coming in, we'll be in touch.
Centaur: I appreciate it. Um.. can I just ask you: did I get the job?
Boss: No. I'm sorry.. we don't hire dirty Centaurs.
[ fade out ]
I went to interview at a japanese pharmaceuticle. Somehow the topic went to raisins. Shady memory but I think she offered a box durring interview. Durring interview she mentioned that raisin in japanese means nipple....... I felt kindy giddy at that point and flustered why she hasn't asked more about my job duties.
Ages ago a job interviewer some good ole chap one could happily get drunk with and tell great tales with was telling me anecdotes of the bank industry hiring process durring my interview.
He spoke how they wanted to hire an African American. Well turned out they hired a very pretty blonde from Africa and They could not say no to her because she was born in Africa and she met the qualitifications of being African American and she even spoke Swahili or how ever you spell it. I giggled and got the job.
One time I went for an interview with a charity for the homeless in London.
Let's just cut a long story short and say that the interview wasn't going well.
I didn't like them. They didn't like me.
"...our next goal is to eliminate homelessness in London by 2011."
"Erm, can I ask a question?"
"Yes, you may."
"What are you going to do after 2011?"
"What do you mean?"
"Well, if you eliminate homelessness in London you'll all be out of a job."
"I think we'll conclude the interview there."
"So Dominic, tell me about yourself"
and err that's it.
It was ultra secret hush hush, my particular skill set was quite pointedly disjoint from what IBM did and the agent that had sent me there hadn't a clue. So I explained various things I'd done which included the line "I seem to have made a career out of annoying Microsoft" and since IBM has the worst HR department of any large company (I'm a headhunter now, trust me when I say this), the agent had set my expectations it would take weeks for them to get back since IBM HR has lunches, sick days, long phone calls to their friends, off site meetings, presentations, courses and many other things that take priority over their actual job.
But the "Microsoft" term caused the offer to be on my voicemail before I'd got home.
IBM HR got their revenge for being forced to actually work for nearly seven whole minutes, a couple of years later they made a hell of a fuss that I might force IBM to pay me maternity leave.
You need to understand that Dominic (as in me) and bimbo (as in IBM HR) is a word that can be applied to either sex, though it tells you a lot about IBM HR that they assumed I was femal even though nearly all the tech people at my site were male. IBM HR were in a different building, not just a different planet.
Customs work includes, obviously, investigating and prosecuting drug crimes. There is no tolerance for illict drug use by staff. In our interview process we always point out to staff the existence of random drug tests and ask about a candidate's drug use.
Q: Do you use recreational drugs?
A: I like to keep my work life and my private life separate (FAIL)
Q: Do you use recreational drugs?
A: Ummm.... do Birth Control pills count?
You can often tell the interviewers who have read the whole of my CV (rather than just the last couple of jobs) because I am guaranteed then to get a ton of questions about paintball, which I used to play competitively. One interview they spent longer on that than on my skills for the job in question! And yes I did get that job, they were after someone who would be tough & not take crap from anyone so I suppose it was sort of relevant
Spent a year working in a liquor store.. not the local one with the pimply yoofs outside trying to get people to buy them a 4 pack of fosters but the proper sort with selves of stuff about as expensive as a datacentre rack (the hardware, not the data mind).
That raises a few questions especially when I mention the home collection (180+ bottles now, we've since stopped counting).
At one interview, I was grilled by 10 interviewers each firing really, really tough technical questions at me. I was doing OK-ish, then we got to one that left me totally flumoxed. I said I had no idea and asked what the answer was. They said they didn't know: all the questions were about problems they'd failed to solve. Guess the one that beat me was crucial coz I didn't get the job.
Re a question about my attitude to diversity in an interview for a govt job: I answered with a list of previous girl friends. Got that job.
Heard about the following:
Q: what would you pitch to your previous employer to increase our sales to them by 15%
A: (long meandering reply)
Q: if you were the buyer at your previous employer, would you be convinced by that?
At least they were honest.
Of course there may have been another reason why they asked you all those questions - if they can get the solution to a load of problems at the interview stage, why bother hiring anyone?
I've been in interviews where it soon became very clear to me that they were picking my brains on a particular subject; they said little about the job itself, asked me very little about my CV, just straight into the "how would you approach this (very specific) problem" questions. In one particular case one interviewer would ask the question and the other 2 would madly scribble down just about every word I said, in fact I think one person was there just to take minutes as they were writing mostly shorthand & didn't say a word throughout the whole interview.
These vacancies always end up with no-one taken on, they decide that they don't need to fill the post for some contrived reason which is nothing to do with the fact they've got the solution to the problem that was bothering them.
During an interview I was conducting, the candidate started to tell us about his experience rebuilding a SQL server following a hardware failure. Having experienced the exact same scenario ourselves the previous week, I took the opportunity to grill him on what he had learned, what processes he had put in place to make recovery easier and make the system more reliable.
He was quite knowledgeable so why waste the opportunity! He did get the job and guess what his first task was.
Me: A Farad.
Boss: No the units.
Me: It's a farad.
Boss: No, I mean in base units it's a Coulomb squared times second squared divided by kilogram times meter squared.
Me: But that's just a Coulomb per Volt which is a Farad.
Oddly, and in retrospect unfortunately, I got the job.
Q. So, let me give you a situation and see how you respond.
Q. It's 3am and you're in the office, you have a 9am deadline and the code you're working on is failing.
Q. What do you do?
A. You mean fix it?
Q. No, everything you've tried has failed you've exhausted all options.
A. So, I'd start looking for answer on the web, starting with a simple search, ending with asking questions in forums.
Q. The internet's down.
A. Okay, so I'd phone someone I knew who'd be awake here or in a different timezone and put the question to them or ask them to post for me.
Q. The phone system's down.
A. Okay, I'd go outside of the building and use the phone or the internet.
Q. The door's are locked.
A. I'd climb out the window.
Q. The windows are all sealed.
A. Okay, so let me get this straight, I'm in a darkened office, alone with no means of external contact and no way of leaving the office and I've exhausted every possibility I'd can think of for fixing the code?
A. Okay, I'm claustrophobic and I'm starting to have a panic attack.
A. Well, you wanted me to relate your scenario, I've done everything I can think of and obviously I'm not going to get anywhere because it appears that every piece of technology in the office has broken. At the end of the day I want to go home, but it appears I'm locked in the building with no means of exit, I'm claustrophobic so I'm very likely to start having a panic attack at this point.
Q. Um, okay, I think we'll call it a close there.
I think the answer they were after was "keep trying different things until it works", but surely this is negated by the "you've exhausted all options"? All in all it was a complete BS interview given by marketing hipsters who seemingly knew nothing about IT.
I've had similar, the scenario of "you've tried everything, and I mean everything, and it's failed. What do you do?". An impossible question to answer correctly, because whatever you can think of has been cancelled out by them saying it's been tried & failed.
I'm an awkward bitch sometimes, and as this is a can't win situation whatever I'd probably end up saying that I wouldn't BE in the office at 3am trying to fix an insoluble problem to some arbitrary deadline. If the deadline isn't arbitrary, then the problem should have been escalated much earlier.
I probably wouldn't be offered the job after saying that, but at least I would have had the satisfaction of pointing out how pointless their stupid question was.
For the job I am currently in I was asked the following:
"If you were a car what make would you be and why?"
After a very quick think looking for some please-all reply the best answer I could ever come up with came to mind...
"I'm an old Ford." I will point out I am not that old (under 30).
"And why is that?"
"I'm a little bit quirky but I will always strive to do my best even if I need help along the way."
I guy I used to work with had an 'O' level in astronomy. This, being out of the run of the mill, garnered a lot of interview questions (when he was applying for his first job out of school at least). One of which went:
Interviewer: I see you have an 'O' level in astronomy. Tell me, do you believe in that sort of thing?
Do you have a driver's license?This question is during interview.(posted on job description is that applicants will have the privilege to drive the company car once hired as sales executive)But after 1 year in the company i'm still commuting and haven't receive the car they are talking about...weird
A large car manufacturer based in Essex decided to interview me for a PM role on their recall system. They were trailing a new sexed-up HR process where a candidate met the team first and were then interviewed by an unrelated senior manager with the potential boss sitting in the room but not involved. All was going well, the lead dev exclaimed his surprise at meeting a PM who had also been a programmer. Buoyed with this thought I went into the interview, which went well. Then we get to the dreaded last question, the senior manager was in charge of "direct mail" - what we call junk mail. His question was "what is the last thing you would like to see coming through your letter-box?"
"A transit" I replied. No job offer was made!
Once asked where I wanted to be in 10 years time. Alive and doing your job I replied. I got the job. He had seen my c.v and knew I would move on long before that and wasn't threatened he told me some weeks later. We got on very well and more than a few bevvies were downed before I did leave some 2 years later.
I was asked "What to I want to do when I grow up?"
I was 36 when I had that interview with whom was to become my manager because I got the job. I looked at him with a bit of an odd look because I was "grown" up. He then explained it was about goal setting and what not. Eventually he left the company and as I planned, I moved into his roll albeit briefly.
I had an interview at an English university for an AV Tech job. The head of dept. and the head technician seemed to like me but the dick from HR didn't.
"You did very well at school. What happened" was what he came out with. I was pissed off at him so I told the truth: I discovered booze and drugs. (I did point out that more then thirty years had passed and I didn't have any long term problems).
I was offered the job by phone before I got home and the HR person was "let go" not long afterwards
This question must convince the employer that you won't be moving on to another job right away. It is also a good way to determine if your career goals are a good fit for the company. Finally, this question shows whether or not you have direction and some sort of plan. You don't need to wind up exactly where you're planning to be in five years, but you need to be pointed in the right direction.
As an IT Manager I interview a reasonable amount, I try to keep the questions open or practical. I had one interviewee whose answer to every technical question was "I'd Google it". It's not a bad answer, but it was the only given to several questions designed to show me how much he knew (or didn’t know). Anyway, after the 3rd repeat answer I did ask him the obvious question- "what would you do if the company internet went down?" to which the answer came "I'd Google it". Suffice as to say he didn't get the job.
Like the two guys who sat at opposite corners of a huge desk in the boardroom - so large I couldn't talk to both at once. They then proceeded to ask me questions in a very bad tempered fashion and even argue with one another.
Generally I'd just start to answer the question asked when the other would jump in.
In the end I got up, thanked them for wasting my time and left. Don't know if was meant as some kind of test but it was incredibly frustrating after the first five minutes.
Then there's the one where I'd had to take some hardcore painkillers after being driven into from behind at high speed - no wonder I didn't get offered that one. I was off my head and could barely remember my own name.
Had a couple of the unanswerable questions like above.
Had one where the guy seemed to take every pause for thought to mean I didn't know the answer and would move on.
Oh I once received a CV from a guy WhO hAd WrItEn every word in his CV in alternating upper and lower case.
One of my favourites had to be the interview I had where the entire thing centred around my scuba diving hobby. Not a single technical question was asked and the closing comment was how I seemed like I had just the right mix they were looking for and would be an asset to the team. I had a phone call from the agency before I even got to my car telling me I hadn't got it because the interviewer felt I wasn't technical enough!
Went for an technical architect role and when I'd done listening to what they wanted and pointed out it was clearly programme manager if not director level and I really wasn't suited to it, they then asked if they could complete the interview and see if I fit anything else. And then promptly interviewed for the very role I had already said I couldn't do and seemed surprised when I couldn't answer some of the questions.
Got asked what my ideal job would be in the future once when was still an electronics engineer. Back then R&D would've been my ideal and I said as much. Got rejected because they felt I was too aspirational for their company!
Fun fun fun.
As a Marketing Graduate the weirdest and the sickest question that I faced in giving interviews while I was searching for job was "WHY MARKETING? and SELL US THIS PEN". It made the whole interview so boring for me that I memorized the answer and gave the same answer to every person who asked me these questions specifically.
A very long time ago I was asked to come in for what I thought was a job interview. First thing the lady that I thought was going to interview me said was that I wasn't gonna get the job (can't recall why), but she had asked me to come in coz she saw I had APL experience, she was a fan of APL, and just wanted to chat about APL. She was kinda cute, so I thought, what the hell, sure lets chat about APL.
Not strictly meeting the criteria.
many years ago (98) I went for a an interview at one of the early video SD glueware designers, Chief engineer took me round and me being me I spotted some some things and piped up,
the interview had a lady from HR looking at the ladfybird book of stupid HR questions.
I got angrier and angrier at the interruptions as did cheify, and she pulled the stupidest one " in the following fiellds how would you consider yourself able organisation, delegation, communication leadership." The last one doedn`t end in ion, but I`m at least shit lukewarm if not shit hot". She shut up. It reached a natural end and chiefy escorted me off the premisess after asking "fancy a pint?". I told him i stuffed up because that silly homunculus girl i did not like , she was looking at her notes all the time which I clocked as a question list when i stood up, and was unproffessional.
We talkd about Rf stuff and a whole lot in common, the meme I started in 84 twhen suddenly all personnel departments were being rebranded and that HR stands for "hand relief" because they are all wankers hadn`t yet got there, he laughed. Job offered, not enough dosh to do a move, HR girl let go for being too agrresive and useless . he told me after.in a call which was nice. This is pre `net
We take on university placement students to our IT department every year and each year we get some howlers:
One student used his personal email address (rather than university email address) on his application that was something like "email@example.com" - he didn't get an interview.
Another guy that I and my senior manager interviewed, gave one-word responses to our questions and it was hard to get him to expand on his answers. When we finally asked if he had any questions for us he suddenly came to life and pulled out a journal where he had written loads of questions (that he clearly got from the internet). His killer question was, "What is the best and worst thing about working here?"
My manager gave a stock answer about being like a family but not always having the time for training, etc. The interviewee then turn to me.. By now I was very annoyed so I answered, "I can walk into our Department Head's office wearing a green wig and a tiara and she won't bat an eye lid."
"And the worst thing..?"
"Oh, they make me wear clothes..!"
He literally ran out of the interview and I had to apologise to my manager.
Another student was so nervous on arrival that he fainted and fell off his chair as soon he sat down!
One student who got a placement in our web team was a natural coder and could absorb code and understand it more than the full-time developers. However every time he got stuck on a problem he would rather loudly swear at his screen - frequently dropping the c-bomb. I had to take him aside and explain to him why that was not acceptable in an office environment.
We also had a student who on several occasions arrived at work several hours late and claimed that she had gone to bed early but somehow managed to oversleep and not hear her alarm clock. Then at lunchtime she would have loud conversations on her mobile while regaling friends with tales of her drinking sessions until the early hours the previous night!
And finally my favourite placement student arrived at work one morning and announced loudly that he had struggled to drive to work that morning because of the dense fog. "But it's not foggy this morning", I said, "It's totally clear out there".
"Oops, I forgot my glasses!", he said...
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