Oddball Interview Questions

People ask peculiar questions of one another all the time.  When the person asking the questions is a potential employer, however, there may be more riding on your response than mastering off-the-wall chitchat.

One of my favorite old Stephen Wright comedy pieces (paraphrased below) illustrates that point.

“I was at a job interview, and I stopped the interview and asked the guy ‘If you were in a car traveling at the speed of light, and you turned on the headlights, what would happen?’  He said ‘I don’t know.’  I said ‘Well then I don’t want to work for you!'”

The folks at glassdoor.com have compiled their list of the top oddball interview questions of 2009.  How would you do if your next job depended on your response to one of these questions?

1.  What was your best McGuyver moment? – view answers
Asked at Schlumberger. More Schlumberger Interview Questions

2.  How many tennis balls are in this room and why? – view answers
Asked at Yahoo. More Yahoo Interview Questions

3.  If you were a brick in a wall which brick would you be and why? – view answers
Asked at Nestle USA. More Nestle USA Interview Questions

4.  How would you move Mount Fuji? – view answers
Asked at Microsoft. More Microsoft Interview Questions

5.  If two cars are traveling in a two lap race on a track of any length, one going 60 mph and the other going 30mph, how fast will the slower car have to go to finish at the same car to finish at the same time? – view answers
Asked at Morgan Stanley. More Morgan Stanley Interview Questions

6.  Are your parents disappointed with your career aspirations? – view answers
Asked at Fisher Investments. More Fisher Investments Interview Questions

7.  Tell me how you would determine how many house painters there are in the United States? – view answers
Asked at Acquity Group. More Acquity Group Interview Questions

8.  What should it cost to rent Central Park for commercial purposes? – view answers
Asked at Bain & Co. More Bain Interview Questions

9.  If I put you in a sealed room with a phone that had no dial tone, how would you fix it? – view answers
Asked at Apple. More Apple Interview Questions

10. If you could be any animal, what would you be and why? – view answers
Asked at Pacific Sunwear. More Pacific Sunwear Interview Questions

11.  How many hair salons are there in Japan? – view answers
Asked at Boston Consulting. More BCG Interview Questions

12.  If both a taxi and a limo were priced the exact same, which one would you choose? – view answers
Asked at Best Buy. More Best Buy Interview Questions

13.  How to measure 9 minutes using only a 4 minute and 7 minute hourglass? – view answers
Asked at Bank of America. More BOA Interview Questions

14.  What are 5 uncommon uses of a brick, not including building, layering, or a paper-weight? – view answers
Asked at Kaplan High Education. More Kaplan Higher Education Interview Questions

15.  What is the probability of throwing 11 and over with 2 dices – view answers
Asked at American Airlines. More American Airlines Interview Questions

16.  What is your favorite food? – view answers
Asked at Apple Store. More Apple Interview Questions

17.  Say you are dead- what do you think your eulogy would say about you. – view answers
Asked at Nationwide. More Nationwide Interview Questions

18.  Given a dictionary of words, how do you calculate the anagrams for a new word? – view answers
Asked at Amazon. More Amazon Interview Questions

19.  How many lightbulbs are in this building? – view answers
Asked at Monitor Group. More Monitor Group Interview Questions

20.  Given a square grid of numbers, considering all the numbers at the boundary as one layer and numbers just inside as another layer and so on how would you rotate each of the layers of the numbers by a given amount. – view answers
Asked at Microsoft. More Microsoft Interview Questions

21.  How would you sell me eggnog in Florida in the summer? – view answers
Asked at Expedia. More Expedia Interview Questions

22.  Develop an algorithm for finding the shortest distance between two words in a document.  After the phone interview is over, take a few hours to develop a working example in C++ and send it to the manager. – view answers
Asked at Google. More Google Interview Questions

23.  Given a fleet of 50 trucks, each with a full fuel tank and a range of 100 miles, how far can you deliver a payload? You can transfer the payload from truck to truck, and you can transfer fuel from truck to truck.  Extend your answer for n trucks. – view answers
Asked at Palantir. More Palantir Interview Questions

24.  You are in a room with 3 switches which correspond to 3 bulbs in another room and you don’t know which switch corresponds to which bulb. You can only enter the room with the bulbs once. You can NOT use any external equipment (power supplies, resistors, etc.). How do you find out which bulb corresponds to which switch? – view answers
Asked at Goldman Sachs. More Goldman Sachs Interview Questions

25.  If you saw someone steal a quarter. Would you report it? – view answers
Asked at Amazon. More Amazon Interview Questions

See more at the glassdoor.com blog

As if interviews weren’t already stressful enough!


4 responses to “Oddball Interview Questions

  1. Excellent article. I compiled a list of 140 Google interview questions. Check it out: http://blog.seattleinterviewcoach.com/2009/02/140-google-interview-questions.html

    – Seattle Interview Coach

  2. When asked these sort of oddball questions the interviewer is as much interested in seeing how you react when under pressure rather than expecting to gain the correct answer from you, so remaining calm is key.

    • I agree – there are lots of occasions when situations at work don’t conform to the script. Some interviewers believe that the best way to see if the candidate can hit a curve ball is to throw them a curve ball. Thanks for your comment!

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