Tech companies such as Facebook, Apple and Google asked their job applicants some very odd and revealing questions, according to IT careers expert Glassdoor.com.
Despite an economy still struggling to lift itself from the
ashes of a long-term global recession, recruiters expect a rise in
technology-job hiring activity in 2011, particularly in areas such as project
managers, developers and business analysts.
Accompanying with that rise is an uptick in job interviews
at some of the nation's most prestigious tech companies. And with those job
interviews comes the inevitable question:
"How many basketballs can you fit in this room?"
Actually, that's just a question that might pop up during a
job interview at Google, according to Glassdoor.com, which will release a list
of "Top 25 oddball interview questions from 2010" Dec. 30. The Website, which
offers detailed reviews of companies by their employees, lists Facebook, Apple,
Google and IBM among the tech companies asking their job applicants some
decidedly non-standard queries.
Here's a small sample:
For a software engineer position at IBM: "How do you weigh
an elephant without using a weigh machine?"
For a systems validation engineer position at Intel: "You
have 8 pennies, 7 weigh the same, one weighs less. You also have a judges
scale. Find the one that weighs less in less than 3 steps."
For a software engineer position at Facebook: "Given the
numbers 1 to 1000, what is the minimum numbers guesses needed to find a
specific number if you are given the hint -higher' or -lower' for each guess
Or even this longer question apparently leveled by Apple at
software QA engineer applicants: "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 the box it labels. 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?"
There's a method to the supposed madness, of course.
Unconventional questions not only force applicants to think outside of the box,
but give potential employers a sense of their logic and mathematics skills. The
Facebook question certainly seems geared towards a company heavily dependent on
ranking and ordering systems.
Glassdoor.com also found that many of the top tech companies
boasted high interview difficulty ratings, based on employees' reviews. Amazon
and Google in particular were listed as "Difficult," with respective ratings of
3.5 out of a possible 5, edging ahead of Facebook (3.1), Microsoft (3.3), eBay (3.3)
and Adobe (3.1). That being said, Google employees also reported being very
satisfied working for the search-engine giant, despite the more difficult
interview process. On the flip side of that equation, employees at
Hewlett-Packard reported an easier interview process (2.9) but also a
significant lack of satisfaction (2.4) with their jobs.
A correlation between job-interview difficulty and eventual
job satisfaction, perhaps, suggests that a question like, "If you had 5,623
participants in a tournament, how many games would need to be played to
determine the winner?" doubles as not only a test of your logic skills, but
also how much you'll like working for that company.