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HIRING

25 Crazy Interview Questions (and Why They're a Waste of Time)
 

The top oddball questions of 2014 are kind of fun, but not very useful.

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Quick: If you were a pizza delivery man, how would you benefit from scissors?

That's one of the top 25 oddball interview questions of 2014, as ranked by Glassdoor.com and based on hundreds of thousands of submissions by job candidates last year.

These sorts of brainteaser interview questions have been well-documented, even spurring an advice book on how to navigate them. The basic idea is that they test an employee's ability to think outside the box (based on the content) and on their feet (based on the level of surprise the question might pose).

Brainteasers and Time Wasters

For years, Google was one of the companies most commonly associated with brainteaser interview questions. But earlier this year, the tech giant said it was all done with them.

"They don't predict anything," Google exec Laszlo Bock told the New York Times in June. "They serve primarily to make the interviewer feel smart.”

And as a Google spokesperson told ABCNews around the same time: "We have shifted away from these types of questions because candidates hate them, answers leak easily and, most importantly, research on the connection between being able to correctly 'solve' a brainteaser and future job performance and/or IQ is questionable and inconsistent."

Indeed, research has come down pretty hard on brainteasers. According to TIME, these questions have proven less useful for hiring managers than traditional interviewing methods. Not only that, but they also cause the kind of resentment that can destroy a candidate's experience and have long-term implications on your recruiting abilities.

Some of the questions on Glassdoor's list might have a bit more utility than others, but it's largely a group that probably won't serve any company all that well.

For example, No. 12 ("How honest are you?") seems like a plenty fair thing to ask, except that the answer could either be a lie or a contradiction. The question probably exists not for an actual gauge of honesty, but because interviewer hopes the candidate recognizes the logical issues the question presents. This throws the question back into the realm of brainteaser and thus makes it all the less useful.

So to be clear, these sorts of questions don't come with a recommendation. Got it? Good.  

Unsurprisingly, more than 60 percent of the questions--16 of them--come from the tech sector. The questions, listed below, are followed by the company that asked it and the position the candidate was interviewing for.

Here's the list.

1. "If you could throw a parade of any caliber through the Zappos office, what type of parade would it be?" -- The Zappos Family, customer loyalty team member

2. "How lucky are you and why?" -- Airbnb, content manager

3. "If you were a pizza delivery man, how would you benefit from scissors?" -- Apple, specialist

4. "If you could sing one song on American Idol, what would it be?" -- Red Frog Events, event coordinator

5. "Are you more of a hunter or a gatherer?" -- Dell, account manager

6. "If you were on an island and could only bring three things, what would you bring?" -- Yahoo, search quality analyst

7. "If you were a box of cereal, what would you be and why?" -- Bed Bath & Beyond, sales associate

8. "Do you believe in Bigfoot?" -- Norwegian Cruise Line, casino marketing coordinator

9. "Why is a tennis ball fuzzy?" -- Xerox, client manager

10. "What is your least favorite thing about humanity?" -- ZocDoc, operations associate

11. "How would you use Yelp to find the number of businesses in the U.S.?" -- Factual, software engineer

12. "How honest are you?" -- Allied Telesis, executive assistant

13. "How many square feet of pizza are eaten in the U.S. each year?" -- Goldman Sachs, programmer analyst

14. "Can you instruct someone how to make an origami 'cootie catcher' with just words?" -- LivingSocial, consumer advocate

15. "If you were 80 years old, what would you tell your children?" -- McKinsey & Company, associate

16. "You're a new addition to the crayon box, what color would you be and why?" -- Urban Outfitters sales associate

17. "How does the internet work?" -- Akamai, director

18. "If there was a movie produced about your life, who would play you and why?" -- SinglePlatform, inside sales consultant

19. "What's the color of money?" -- American Heart Association, project manager

20. "What was the last gift you gave someone?" -- Gallup, data analyst

21. "What is the funniest thing that has happened to you recently?" -- Applebee’s, bartender/neighborhood expert server

22. “How many snow shovels sold in the U.S. last year?” -- TASER, leadership development program

23. “It’s Thursday; we’re staffing you on a telecommunications project in Calgary, Canada on Monday. Your flight and hotel are booked; your visa is ready. What are the top five things you do before you leave?” -- ThoughtWorks, junior consultant

24. “Describe to me the process and benefits of wearing a seatbelt.” -- Active Network, client applications specialist

25. “Have you ever been on a boat?” -- Applied Systems, graphic designer

Last updated: Jan 17, 2014




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