Absurdly Driven looks at the world of business with a skeptical eye and a firmly rooted tongue in cheek.


The whole process of interviewing seems to have become steadily more peculiar.

Perhaps interviewers are simply so bored that they need to invent questions to entertain themselves. Or perhaps they just want to seem terribly clever.

But I've heard too many stories of people walking out of interviews and wondering: "Was that account management or the Twilight Zone?"

I am moved to be more convinced of this by a list compiled by tell-the-truth-about-your-boss site Glassdoor.

This purports to offer the top 10 "oddball" questions reported by interviewees in 2016.

Glassdoor's "oddball" is my "Oh, dear Lord, I need to lie down."

1. When a hot dog expands, in which direction does it split and why?

Alright, you'll say, this is being asked at Space Exploration Technologies. They're hiring nerds. They want to know how they think. The answer, though, is obvious. A hot dog splits in the direction of the person you've come with to the ball park. They get covered in ketchup and other gunk. They end up disliking you for weeks.

2. Would you rather fight 1 horse-sized duck, or 100 duck-sized horses?

This is apparently a Whole Foods question. It's clearly been influenced by the current political climate, in which we have to constantly be prepared to fight. Personally, I'd laugh at the sight of 100 duck-sized horses. If a horse-sized duck came along, I'd wonder whether the local nuclear power station had leaked. In any case, neither horses nor ducks are fond of fighting. So the question is patently silly.

3. If you're the CEO, what are the first three things you check about the business when you wake up?

Apparently asked by Dropbox, this question asks the interviewee to think like the boss. But how are you supposed to answer it? With a clinical analysis of Dropbox's strategic priorities? Why would I be tempted to answer: "I'd check whether the business it still there, whether anyone's turned up at the office and whether the coffee machine is still working"?

4. What would the name of your debut album be?

Alright, this one might be construed as fun. It's asked by Urban Outfitters. It appeals to egos. It begs you to show your witty, artistic sides. It wants to see how derivative you are. But there's only one answer: "Nobody buys albums anymore. Duh."

5. How would you sell hot cocoa in Florida?

This is said to be a favorite at J. W. Business Acquisitions, an outsourced sales and marketing company. I feel sure that an unacceptable answer is: "Why do you want to?" Another might be: "They drink bloody coffee there, you know. It's hot too. So what's your problem." How about: "Do you realize how cold it gets in air-conditioning?" I only have unacceptable answers, I'm afraid.

6. If I gave you $40,000 to start a business, what would you start?

This one gets asked at marketing software company HubSpot. What are you supposed to answer? How about: "I'd start asking for another 40 grand. Don't you know that a mere 40 doesn't get you anywhere these days?" Or: "I'd start running. We've only just met and I've heard you're a bit of a pain. So give me the money now." Or perhaps: "I"d start a competitor to you, because if you're giving away money like this, your business has no chance." I don't think I'm good at this interviewing game.

7. What would you do if you found a penguin in the freezer?

This is a Trader Joe's question. It was clearly invented by someone very bored. You open a freezer, you see a penguin and you say: "Is it cold enough for you in here?" Do we know if the penguin can talk? I mean, it must be a pretty clever penguin to have got into a freezer in the first place. Of course, a somewhat smarty pants answer is "I'd thaw it out. Everyone knows that a Penguin is actually a brand of English chocolate biscuit."

8. If you were a brand, what would be your motto?

This is the more serious version of the album cover question. It's asked by the Boston Consulting Group. And the answer, of course, is: "Too Good To Interview."

9. How many basketballs would fit in this room?

Look, every flight attendant needs to know this because airlines' greatest ambition is to stuff as many human beings into a plane as uncomfortably as possible. Oh, didn't I mention? This is a Delta Air Lines question. I suggest you aim for a ridiculously high number and watch the interviewer smile.

10. If you had $2,000, how would you double it in 24 hours?

This one is a favorite at Japanese store Uniqlo. Would one answer be: "I'd steal some things off the racks here and go sell them on eBay"? Probably not a good answer. Neither would: "I'd go to H&M, spend the 2 grand, bring the clothes over here and sell them for three times as much." They surely want you to show your enterprising side, don't they?