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jeffisjeff
01-03-2011, 03:15 AM
"How many basketball[s] can you fit in this room”

I'm a literal-minded person and pretty much incapable of coming up with creative answers, so I'd estimate the square footage of the room, then multiply by the estimated ceiling height to get the cubic volume. Then I'd make an assumption that the diameter of a basketball is about 1 foot, so the room could hold a number of basbetballs equal to its cubic volume in feet.

When I interviewed with a major consulting firm decades ago, as a senior in college, I got a couple of similar questions. One I recall was how many skis are sold in the US each year. I had a moment of internal :huh:, but then I proceeded to answer in a similar manner as you lay out above. I started by estimating the US population, then the % of people in the US who ski, then the average lifetime of a pair of skis, etc. I made sure they understood my thought process, rather than focusing on getting a specific answer. I think I did OK since I made it to the round of on-site interviews. I had a friend who interviewed with the same firm and got a similar question. Her answer involved calling her dad to ask him! She did not get an on-site interview.

mgobluegirl
01-03-2011, 03:54 AM
What do wood and alcohol have in common?

You need both to enjoy camping.

aster
01-03-2011, 04:02 AM
This is the one I got didn't have to think about:

“What do wood and alcohol have in common?”

They both have grain/s

Also...

“An apple costs 20 cents, an orange costs 40 cents, and a grapefruit costs 60 cents, how much is a pear?”

If it was an oral interview, the answer is 40 cents, 80 cents, of 1.20.

Prancer
01-03-2011, 04:44 AM
I made sure they understood my thought process, rather than focusing on getting a specific answer.

In most cases, I think that's what they are looking for--an example of how you think. That is the only reason for a question like the pencil in the blender to exist.

But I don't think that's true for all of them. The question about traffic lights in New York was for a staff writer interview. Rather than come up with an answer and explain your reasoning, I would think it would be preferable to admit not knowing and tell them how you would find a credible answer to the question.

The martial arts one continues to throw me a bit, because I don't quite grasp the purpose of the question. But I think that they would assume that the interviewee didn't really know much about martial arts except what he or she has seen in the movies, so I think it would be a disadvantage for me to go blabbing on about martial arts philosophy as I know it. And I would try to come up with something that related to sales, like work hard, maintain discipline, exert self-control, set goals and acheive them.

Wood and alcohol would be a dangerous one for me, because I can think of a lot of commonalities--both occur naturally but the creation process can be managed and controlled. Both have grain. Both burn. Both warm, but in different ways. Both can be used in cooking. Both can be created from pulp--wood pulp can be pressed into wood and fruit pulp can create alcohol. And so on and so on. I can see me blabbling on until they want to stab me with a (wood) pencil.:P

Matryeshka
01-03-2011, 04:46 AM
You know, I think I would enjoy answering some of those questions. I'm assuming that most of them don't have a right answer--what they're looking for is either a) how creative you are, b) how you process information, or c) how you react under pressure.

I do remember from math classes those annoying questions that had as an answer choice: the answer cannot be determined from the given data set. I will never, ever, ever forget to this day Mr. Bouillion treating that question as a "life lesson." He HAMMERED into us the idea that people get themselves into trouble when they invent information, read more into a situation, or just make stuff up when unsure. What we learned from that in 8th grade was, if that question is on the test, the answer is always cannot be determined, but I do wonder if some of the apple/orange and cost of pear question are those. My guess is, an employer is looking to see if you will get overly bogged down in meaningless details or can you say, nope, we can't do that, moving on to what we can do.

For Aflac, I would think they're looking to see how well you can spin information and make it look like you know the answer. I know two people that work for Aflac, and they shovel high and deep pretty well.

I kind of like the basketball question and could see it being useful to a number of jobs--it tests your spatial skills. I was asked a similar question when I first interviewed at BB&B at a career job fair (position for sales/merchandising). It wasn't until I got a job there that I realized how BAD my spatial skills are. I was eventually hired by BB&B, but not for merchandising. :lol: The answer to the basketball question is take whatever number you *think* it is, square it, then quadruple it, then add 100. :P You have no idea how many scales you can fit in a book case. No idea.

MR-FAN
01-03-2011, 05:31 AM
OMG! I was asked the alcohol and wood question before! for a part-time job when I was in high school :lol: I said the letter o (i got the job)

mkats
01-03-2011, 05:53 AM
My boyfriend works for Epic and got asked the question about the apple and pears (for a software developer position). He says the question he was asked was slightly different - apples were 40 cents, bananas 60 cents, and grapefruit 80 cents, how much is a pear?

He thinks he got it right - he got hired :P

Anita18
01-03-2011, 06:27 AM
My boyfriend works for Epic and got asked the question about the apple and pears (for a software developer position). He says the question he was asked was slightly different - apples were 40 cents, bananas 60 cents, and grapefruit 80 cents, how much is a pear?

He thinks he got it right - he got hired :P
Hah! I'll have to tell my bf since he kinda wants to get into game design too.

If he were put on the spot like that, he'd probably come up with SOMETHING, but if he didn't have a censor on his thoughts, he'd say, "What kind of fecking stupid question is that?" :rofl:

For an RA interview in college, I was asked why manhole covers were round, and I already knew the real answer. :P

Japanfan
01-03-2011, 10:44 AM
For an RA interview in college, I was asked why manhole covers were round, and I already knew the real answer. :P

And the answer is?

Anita18
01-03-2011, 11:42 AM
And the answer is?
Circular lids will never fall into the hole they fit. :)

DAngel
01-03-2011, 01:17 PM
Wood and alcohol would be a dangerous one for me, because I can think of a lot of commonalities--both occur naturally but the creation process can be managed and controlled. Both have grain. Both burn. Both warm, but in different ways. Both can be used in cooking. Both can be created from pulp--wood pulp can be pressed into wood and fruit pulp can create alcohol. And so on and so on. I can see me blabbling on until they want to stab me with a (wood) pencil.:P

The first thing that comes to my mind when I read the question was "You can knock out someone with either of them" :shuffle:

I don't think they'd hire me :lol:

beepbeep
01-03-2011, 02:26 PM
"How many basketball[s] can you fit in this room”

I'm a literal-minded person and pretty much incapable of coming up with creative answers, so I'd estimate the square footage of the room, then multiply by the estimated ceiling height to get the cubic volume. Then I'd make an assumption that the diameter of a basketball is about 1 foot, so the room could hold a number of basbetballs equal to its cubic volume in feet.

:shuffle:
[Geek mode]
It depends on how you pack them: one on top of the other (simple cubic) or the balls on the layer above on the empty spaces of the layer underneath (face centered cubic). Unit cells. (http://chemed.chem.purdue.edu/genchem/topicreview/bp/ch13/unitcell.php)
Any way, the maximum amount of volume you have filled with balls is 74% (if face centered cubic). http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Atomic_packing_factor
Get the measures of the room and basketball and have fun.
[/Geek mode]

A little too many solid state classes. I probably wouldn't get the job with that answer... :P

Prancer
01-03-2011, 02:36 PM
The first thing that comes to my mind when I read the question was "You can knock out someone with either of them" :shuffle:

I don't think they'd hire me :lol:

I thought of that, too. :lol: It all depends on what they are looking for.

millyskate
01-03-2011, 07:15 PM
:shuffle:
[Geek mode]
It depends on how you pack them: one on top of the other (simple cubic) or the balls on the layer above on the empty spaces of the layer underneath (face centered cubic). Unit cells. (http://chemed.chem.purdue.edu/genchem/topicreview/bp/ch13/unitcell.php)
Any way, the maximum amount of volume you have filled with balls is 74% (if face centered cubic). http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Atomic_packing_factor
Get the measures of the room and basketball and have fun.
[/Geek mode]

A little too many solid state classes. I probably wouldn't get the job with that answer... :P

The only thing I could think of with that question (maybe because I've had to stash many basketballs in a small space in the past) was: you need to deflate all of them!! Then you can store a good number.

MacMadame
01-03-2011, 09:14 PM
I interviewed at Google. Twice. Obviously, I didn't make the cut.

Based on my experiences, I don't think their hiring processes are that great. I understand why they do some of the things they do but I think they end up weeding out a lot of good people because the interviewees don't react in a prescribed way even though they'd do great if they were hired.

I think it's better to concentrate on how people have behaved in similar situations in the past that throw a lot of trick questions at them.