Saturday, March 12, 2011

Interview questions revisited

I came across this list of "oddball" interview questions asked last year:

I look at most of these questions as a waste of time (though some more than others), both for the interviewer and interviewee.  The people asking the questions might tell themselves that these questions are designed to understand how the interviewee thinks, but in reality they give misleading information to the interviewer and tell the interviewee nothing at all about the expectations for the job.  However, there are a few of these questions that I would like to point out as possibly useful.  The questions that involve mathematics and/or logic (questions 9, 10, 11, and 18) might give insight into the interviewee's skill in logic, which would certainly be useful to all workers, though especially to programmers.  I was fascinated with this question (#20):

“You are in charge of 20 people, organize them to figure out how many bicycles were sold in your area last year.” 

My first reaction was to think that this too was a question that had more potential for misinterpretation than it had for understanding the interviewee.  After further thought, I began to realize that not all problems a business leader will face will be similar to problems faced before, nor will they be predictable.  Being able to adapt to new and unusual situations would definitely be a valuable skill in a business environment, and needing to organize people to determine bicycle sales would fall in that category.  I'm still not sure that this question is the right one to get at this ability, but I'm unable to come up with a better one at this point.

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