Tech + Health

01.17.14

Can You Answer These 10 Oddball Job Interview Questions Asked at America’s Top Tech Companies?

Why are tennis balls fuzzy? These oddball questions will have you pondering life, luck, and pizza delivery men.

Question: Are you more of a hunter or a gatherer?

That’s a tough one, and you don’t have to answer right now—unless you’re interviewing at Dell for an account manager position. In which case your answer means everything.

That’s just one of many oddball interview questions candidates are likely to hear from hiring managers at some of America’s top tech companies, according to the jobs and careers website Glassdoor. Using information from thousands of interview questions shared by job candidates on the site this past year, Glassdoor this morning identified the strangest ones—the curveballs—that knock you back in your seat and might leave your stammering to come up with an answer.

“While job candidates should be prepared to take on challenging and oddball interview questions during the hiring process, they should also be ready for anything, which includes answering common interview questions,” says Allyson Willoughby, Glassdoor’s Senior Vice President of People(what question did she answer to get that job title?!). “For example, many candidates should be ready to answer questions like: ‘What are your strengths and weaknesses?’, ‘Why do you want to work here?’ and ‘Where do you see yourself in five years?’”

But if Glassdoor’s wacky list is any indication, you should also be prepared for the completely unexpected.

1. “If you could throw a parade of any caliber through the Zappos office, what type of parade would it be?”—This one’s from Zappos, and was submitted by somebody interviewing for a “Customer Loyalty Team Member” position. The answer, clearly, would be a parade of puppies wearing doggie booties. You couldn’t go wrong with that.

2. “How lucky are you and why?”—If you’re using the Internet to read this, very. But I’m not the hiring manager, and you’re not applying for my “Content Manager” position at Airbnb, so who knows what’s right.

3. “If you were a pizza delivery man, how would you benefit from scissors?Apple wants to know for its Specialist position. Hm. A trick? I’ve thought about this long and hard and I have the answer. I would open the box, take out my scissors, and cut one of the slices in half from the crust to the middle of the pie and then eat that mini-slice. I would then smush the pie together, filling the gap, so nobody can tell I’ve stolen some pizza. This, I think, would show I am resourceful. Or maybe that I’m a crook. I’m not sure how Apple would judge my answer, but there it is.

“Can you instruct someone how to make an origami ‘cootie catcher’ with just words?”

4. “Are you more of a hunter or a gatherer?” Well, here it is. How did you answer? Tell us in the comments. I won’t spoil your thinking.

5. “If you were on an island and could only bring three things, what would you bring?”—This could go any number of ways. How Yahoo, interviewing for its search quality analyst position, would judge you is unclear. A computer, an Internet connection, and an endless supply of electrical power might be a good place to start (providing food, water, and companionship could still be ordered and delivered from Seamless).

6. “Why is a tennis ball fuzzy?” What this has to do with my potential as a client manager at Xerox, I have no clue. But you should have one if you want to get that job. (Spoiler: it has something to do with the aerodynamics of the ball.)

7. “What is your least favorite thing about humanity?”—ZocDoc, a website that helps its users find and review doctors, wants to know in its interview for an operations associate.

8. “How would you use Yelp to find the number of businesses in the U.S.?” Factual, in its interview for a software engineer, drops this bomb on its prospective candidates. I’m not sure how I’d even come close to answering this one, outside of stammering on and on about some API mumblejumple, but ultimately could try and look at the biggest cities in the United States, collect the total number of reviews for each one (New York City has 500660, San Francisco has 83328, Miami 127084), compare to population, then come up with a calculation that can be applied against the population counts of the regions of the United States. It would be a total guess. But maybe they would be impressed with my attempt?

9. “Can you instruct someone how to make an origami ‘cootie catcher’ with just words?” We can see why they’d want a consumer advocate to answer this question—LivingSocial is one of those group coupon services that is built on selling compelling copy. (The answer, with gifs.)

10. “How does the internet work?”—Well, Akamai, I’ll tell you. One loads up American Online, hits “download cat gifs,” and sits back while the profit rolls in. That’s how the Internet works. (Did I get the director position? Hello?)