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Looking for a New Job? Put On Your Thinking Cap

Discussion in 'Off The Beaten Track' started by Prancer, Jan 2, 2011.

  1. Prancer

    Prancer Cursed for all time Staff Member

  2. Lanie

    Lanie Well-Known Member

    My head would explode.

    The one about the pencils made me laugh. For the weirdness I'd say, "Not as weird as Lady Gaga, that's for sure."
  3. Karina1974

    Karina1974 Well-Known Member

    I would ace the one about the philosophy of the Martial Arts, being that I used to keep company with someone who trained in MA when he was stationed in Okinawa (USAF Security Service) back in the early 1960's. His sensei had been a student of Gichin Funakoshi, who founded the Shotokan school of Karate. Most of our conversations revolved around this topic.
  4. John 3 17

    John 3 17 Well-Known Member

    But the question is: why does Aflac want to knwo if you know?

    I marked almost all of them as really odd :lol: A couple made sense for the position and I've heard the M&Ms one before, otherwise I wouldn't even want to work for a compay that asked such creeeeeepy questions. Too surreal.

    -Bridget :)
  5. cholla

    cholla Fearless musher

    But what the purpose of all this ? To actually provide an answer or to study people's reactions to the questions ?
  6. made_in_canada

    made_in_canada INTJ

    I would think that watching how candidates react and how they come to an answer is really what those employers are looking at. How could you possibly know some of those answers?
  7. *Jen*

    *Jen* Well-Known Member

    I was once asked how many different uses I could think of for a brick. The idea is to see how you think on your feet, and how you react.

    At least the question I was asked was answerable. If I were asked one of these, I'd laugh.

    Incidently my blender unscrews from the bottom providing two different escape routes. I feel this must be key.
  8. genevieve

    genevieve drinky typo pbp, closet hugger Staff Member

    Most of those questions are about how people react to something they're not expecting, and probably to test creativity as well. Possibly to type personalities without investing in a full Meyers-Briggs or Birkman test. Depending on the company, humor and sarcasm might be the best possible answer.

    A few of my friends worked in a record store 20 years ago where the application form included a 3-inch square where they had to draw something about themselves. :lol:
  9. El Rey

    El Rey Well-Known Member

    I actually like some of these questions better than the traditional questions. I could have a good time with some of these answers, unlike having to explain my weaknesses.
  10. Prancer

    Prancer Cursed for all time Staff Member

    I could answer the question, although based on my experience, different arts have different philosophies, but


    If the purpose is just to see how you answer impossible questions, then I'd be fine. But since it's for a sales position, there would be an actual purpose to the question, maybe I would be and maybe I wouldn't be.

    My husband knew the answer to the Facebook one about how many questions it would take to find one number in 1000 and says that's an easy one.
  11. vesperholly

    vesperholly Well-Known Member

    RFOS and (deleted member) like this.
  12. BittyBug

    BittyBug Living in a Kleptocracy

    It is easy.
    The question doesn't ask what the # of guesses required is, it asks what the minimum # of guesses required is - and that would be one, since you could guess correctly on the first try. ;)
  13. Tinami Amori

    Tinami Amori Well-Known Member

    a) These are fun questions!
    b) I am sorry, but I absolutely DO NOT believe you.... :D.

    You would answer 90% of them with flying colors, Martial Arts question for example, based on a long discussion you had with me back in 2004, and your family member’s affiliation with this discipline.

    I can give you several other example why you would answer 90%+ of them sufficiently enough to be considered for any of the listed positions… I can give many example why many posters on FSU would answer most of them….

    Yes, on one hand there probably would be an element of surprise if one is asked such questions during a job interview. On the other hand, when in stressfull high-tention situations, one’s brain and organizm in general functions with more intensity, and your physical and mental strength are often doubled, if not trippled, to produce amaizing results, not common in every-day life.

    I don’t think these are hard questions at all. Some have reasonable answers even if they are not exact, some require opinion, some require “I don’t know – insufficient data”, some require a clever come back…..

    We had a very popular trivia show back in Soviet days (it is still running today but not as popular), called KBH (in English – KVN), which basically ment “A Club of Funny Clever Nerds”. There were two teams of 6-7 people, each giving the other team very similar questions, which either had a realistic answer or required a clever comeback. The whole country would watch this show, kids and adults, and play alone…

    So, I am going to try for fun to answer them…

    “If you were shrunk to the size of a pencil and put in a blender, how would you get out?”

    - Stand in the centre on top of the blade-rotter knob, to make sure when the blender is turned on, you’re in a middle of the vortex, and not to the side where the blades are. In a blender, the vortex has two currents, down-ward and up-ward. Find the volume of the flow which is moving upwards, ride it, and grab the sides of the blender and pull yourself out.

    “What is the philosophy of Martial Arts?”

    - Discipline of mind, conditioning of body, acceptance of traditions, all expressed with element of artistry for the purpose of self-defense.

    “Explain [to] me what has happened in this country during the last 10 years.”

    - America came very close to loosing values, principles and methods that made it the most prosperous country in the world.

    “Rate yourself on a scale of 1 to 10 how weird you are.”

    - In duties and obligations: 1
    - In personal expression on private time: 10

    “How many basketball can you fit in this room”

    - Depends on the purpose of the room.
    - If used strictly as storage for basketballs, then as many as inventory requires, to the max that space allows, while leaving sufficient space for a human to access any part of the inventory.
    - If used for display in a retail space, then only the amount of balls which allows to show 1 sample of different brand and style from the available inventory.

    “Out of 25 horses, pick the fastest 3 horses. In each race, only 5 horses can run at the same time. What is the minimum number of races required?”

    -If we’re to apply the principle of elimination rounds used in other sports events – then 6.

    - If we are to extrapolate that a particular horse’s abilities could be enhanced or hindered depending on what other 4 horses are placed next to her in a hip, then we would have to go into more complicated statistics.

    “Given the numbers 1 to 1000, what is the minimum numbers guesses needed to find a specific number if you are given the hint "higher" or "lower" for each guess you make.”

    - minimum 11 (start dividing the sum in half, up or down after 500 – your first guess).
    - Going down.….. 250…. 125…. 113… 57… 24… 12… 6…. 3…and last two guesse 1 o 2, or 4 and 5.
    - Or 750… 375… etc..

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

    - Insufficient data to provide exact calculation.
    - However, if extrapolation is permited based on similarties and Plantea specs, a rough assumption can be made based on types of fruits and sizes of fruites.
    - Orange and grapefuit are Citruse Angiosperms, ranging between 40 and 60 cents, smaller citrus 40, larger citrus 60. The cultivation, packing, transportaton methods are similar.
    - Apple, Magnoliofita-Magnoliopsyda-Malous, costs 20 cents. Pear, is also Magnoliofita-Magnoliopsyda-Pyruse, usually similar in size, and requires similar cultivation, packing, transportation methods – therefore the price will be close to 20 cents +/-.

    “There are three boxes, one contains only apples, one contains only oranges, and one contains both apples and oranges. The boxes have been incorrectly labeled such that no label identifies the actual contents of the box it labels. Opening just one box, and without looking in the box, you take out one piece of fruit. By looking at the fruit, how can you immediately label all of the boxes correctly?”

    - If you pull Orange out of the first box you label this box “This box has oranges”, and the other 2 boxes “This may may not contain oranges”. If you pull out apple in the first box – then in reverse, “this box has apples”, the other two “this box may not contain apples”.

    “How many traffic lights in Manhattan?”

    - Rought guess: 11 vertical avenues, 176 horizontal streets, at least 4 stations on each intersection – 7744 + about 300 in the Wall Street area ~ 8000.

    “What do wood and alcohol have in common?”

    - both are products of Flora.

    “Why do you think only a small percentage of the population makes over $150K?”.

    - I don’t have time to think why people make less than $150K, I spend my time and effort trying to do everything to join the small percent who makes over $150K.

    “How many bottles of beer are drank in the city over the week.”

    - depends on the population and demographics of the city.

    “How are M&M's made?”

    - According to FDA regulations for candy manufacturing.
    - Based on middle of 19th century european candy making process – to preserve chocolate, you roll it in a sugary coating.

    “What would you do if you just inherited a pizzeria from your uncle?"
    - I would ask to see the books, evaluate the financials, a go from there.

    Anyone elese wants to try? Or help to correct mine?...... :lol:
    Last edited: Jan 2, 2011
  14. Aceon6

    Aceon6 Hit ball, find ball, hit it again.

    Had no problem with the Project Management one. It's a comparable estimation exercise. As long as you say the pear is close to the cost of the apple, you pass as far as PM techniques are concerned. To ace, you'd add "of course, I'd want to weigh the apple and pear before giving a fixed price."
  15. acraven

    acraven Well-Known Member

    “There are three boxes, one contains only apples, one contains only oranges, and one contains both apples and oranges. The boxes have been incorrectly labeled such that no label identifies the actual contents of the box it labels. Opening just one box, and without looking in the box, you take out one piece of fruit. By looking at the fruit, how can you immediately label all of the boxes correctly?”

    I believe a precise answer to this one is possible:

    - Remove one piece of fruit from the box labeled "Mixed". Since all labels are false, the box cannot be mixed and thus must contain only the type of fruit you removed.
    - Now consider the box labeled as containing the other type of fruit. Again, the label is false so it cannot contain only the type of fruit on the label. Nor can it contain only the type of fruit removed from the first box. Therefore, this box is actually the mixed box.
    - With the contents of two boxes known, it is clear that the third box (labeled as containing the type of fruit removed from the first box) must contain only the other type of fruit.

    "How many basketball 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.
  16. jeffisjeff

    jeffisjeff Well-Known Member


    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.
  17. mgobluegirl

    mgobluegirl Well-Known Member

    What do wood and alcohol have in common?

    You need both to enjoy camping.
    skatefan and (deleted member) like this.
  18. aster

    aster Member

    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


    “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.
  19. Prancer

    Prancer Cursed for all time Staff Member

    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
  20. Matryeshka

    Matryeshka Well-Known Member

    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.
  21. MR-FAN

    MR-FAN Kostner Softie

    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)
    millyskate and (deleted member) like this.
  22. mkats

    mkats Well-Known Member

    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
  23. Anita18

    Anita18 Well-Known Member

    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
  24. Japanfan

    Japanfan Well-Known Member

    And the answer is?
  25. Anita18

    Anita18 Well-Known Member

    Circular lids will never fall into the hole they fit. :)
  26. DAngel

    DAngel Well-Known Member

    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:
    gkelly and (deleted member) like this.
  27. beepbeep

    beepbeep Brazilian Eurotrash


    [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.
    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
  28. Prancer

    Prancer Cursed for all time Staff Member

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

    millyskate Well-Known Member

    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.
    gkelly and (deleted member) like this.
  30. MacMadame

    MacMadame Cat Lady-in-Training

    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.