I had dinner with a group of ex colleagues last night - one of those get togethers that happens once every 2 - 3 years and where you spend all evening catching up on what happened to so and so etc. Was great fun but, I was reminded of something that made me laugh regarding unusual interview questions and I thought I'd share it.

 

One of the guys who still works with this very well known american technology company said that he had got divorced just a year or so ago. He felt that he had become a bit anally retentive as one of the things that annoyed him about his ex partner was the way in which she stacked the dishwasher! 

 

On comparing notes with a work colleague, he asked her (note the mix of genders here making sure that it is not sexually discriminating) her attitude to stacking the dishwasher. Surprisingly, her technique mirrored his and on exploring this with other colleagues, a pattern emerged that suggested that employees of the said company had a common approach to stacking the dishwasher.

 

So, it has now become part of the interview questionnaire leaving potential recruits at somewhat of a loss to understand how dishwashers are relevant to the legal department of a large US multinational.

 

At the risk of triggering a controversial thread here, what's the most unusual interview question that you've heard woven into practice?

Views: 978

Comment by Barbara Goldman on March 29, 2011 at 1:23pm
Just what is the correct answer? Glasses first, or plates first? Looks like it helps them narrow down at least 50 percent of the candidates. And, they actually have a reason. Which is a blessing. A strange reason, but at least it's a system. Most companies rely on 'feelings', or personality assessments. Same thing. Same result :)
Comment by Randy Levinson on March 29, 2011 at 1:23pm

I was once asked "What's 2 + 2?" in an interview. I quickly answered "4" and then went into a throrough analysis of how it might depend on what the person asking the question might think it is. My manager or my customer? If they say it is "5" then is it 5?

I did get the job, but later the guy who hired me told me I went too deep with my answer.

Comment by nick on March 29, 2011 at 1:38pm
I was asked how old I was!
Comment by Dawn Williams on March 29, 2011 at 1:42pm
I was once asked if I ever felt that I did not get a deal because I am black and how did I react. I loved the question and it opened up some great discussions. This man remains a great friend and mentor to me more than 15 years later.
Comment by Luke Toland on March 29, 2011 at 1:54pm
Dawn, that's a brave question to be asked. I think most interviewers would run scared of EOE laws.
Comment by Paul Kilp on March 29, 2011 at 2:58pm

I've heard that Microsoft asks two interesting questions:

1) Why are manhole covers round?

2) How many gas stations are there in the Greater LA area?

Comment by Ilona Jerabek on March 29, 2011 at 3:16pm
We ask "What is the most common misconception about you?" We usually get very revealing answers, and candidates don't have cookie cutter answers for that one.
Comment by Andy Lucas on March 29, 2011 at 5:00pm
Working for a dot-com, we can ask some pretty niche-geeky type questions. Last year, I enjoyed asking people "what do you think of Adobe vs. Apple?" and see what they said - they didn't have to pick a side, necessarily; I was more interested in their industry knowledge and informed response. Right now, I'm enjoying asking, "what questions do you have for me?" right out of the gate - it actually catches more people off-guard than you'd think.
Comment by Stuart Harvey on March 29, 2011 at 6:33pm
We use a good list of questions mostly tech focused, some logic and some behavioral but my favorite is asked right in the middle of all of them - What is your super power? My favorite answer so far; I can shoot meat balls from my eye's!
Comment by Valentino Martinez on March 30, 2011 at 3:11am

"What came first the chicken or the egg?" is an unusual question I received . 

I respond with the only correct answer for the literal aspect of such a question.

 

 

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