What are these weird job interview questions really looking for?
“If you were shrunk to the size of a pencil and put in a blender, how would you get out? …Uh huh, I see. Sorry, you can’t work here.”
It could happen to you.
Glassdoor.com, an online “career community where anyone can find and anonymously share an inside look at jobs and companies,” has compiled a list of the most off the wall job interview questions posted on the site. Apparently they culled through “tens of thousands” of them before coming up with the top 25 (10 of which are listed below).
Among them is the above headscratcher from Goldman Sachs. I tried to figure out how I’d answer it, like “Well, if I lived in a world where I can be shrunk to the size of a pencil, then I could just as easily grow right back at will, right? So, I’d just grow back and get out,” which is probably a terrible answer, even though I had hours to think about it and in real life I’d have been expected to answer on the spot — so in truth my answer would probably have been “What!?” I mean, come on. There’s not nearly enough information here. Who shrunk me? How? And, more important, why would someone do that? Then put me in a BLENDER?! What kind of sicko even came up with this question?
I bet I wouldn’t get that job. Interviews, as we have mentioned before, are not my strong point.
My husband said he’d tip the blender over, which probably makes more sense but might require violence since you’d have to slam into the blender walls. And maybe they’re looking for a more thinky answer…(see below for more responses).
What ARE they looking for?
I asked Alexandra Levit, author of such books as They Don’t Teach Corporate in College, How’d You Score That Gig?, Success for Hire, MillennialTweet, and New Job, New You. She says they may be looking for a variety of things.
“Depending on the specific odd question, employers are trying to assess your creativity, problem-solving ability, or analytical ability,” says Levit. “They may also be feeling out how you behave under pressure by asking questions that cannot be answered easily and that you cannot prepare for. Given that, the best way to cope with them is to anticipate that you may be asked questions of this nature.”
Other questions on the list include “How many ridges [are there] around a quarter?” and “Given the numbers 1 to 1000, what is the minimum number [of] guesses needed to find a specific number if you are given the hint ‘higher’ or ‘lower’ for each guess you make?”
Pfffft. Who doesn’t know that?
Workopolis also did its own survey of weirdest job interview questions last year, which you can find here.
Levit adds that you shouldn’t stress about the answer. “Don’t put too much pressure on yourself to answer these questions perfectly, as that will cause you to appear stressed out and flustered. Keep in mind that most of the time it’s your approach and attitude toward the question rather than the actual answer that interviewers are paying attention to.”
So, what have we learned? There are no right answers. But, don’t kid yourself, there are probably wrong answers. Just be prepared.
The top ten weirdest questions as found on Glassdoor.com:
1. “If you were shrunk to the size of a pencil and put in a blender, how would you get out?” Asked at Goldman Sachs.
2. “How many ridges [are there] around a quarter?” Asked at Deloitte.
3. “What is the philosophy of Martial Arts?” Asked at Aflac.
4. “Explain [to] me what has happened in this country during the last 10 years.” Asked at Boston Consulting.
5. “Rate yourself on a scale of 1 to 10 how weird you are.” Asked at Capital One.
6. “How many basketball[s] can you fit in this room?” Asked at Google.
7. “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?” Asked at Bloomberg LP.
8. “If you could be any superhero, who would it be?” Asked at AT&T.
9. “You have a birthday cake and have exactly 3 slices to cut it into 8 equal pieces. How do you do it?” Asked at Blackrock.
10. “Given the numbers 1 to 1000, what is the minimum number [of] guesses needed to find a specific number if you are given the hint ‘higher’ or ‘lower’ for each guess you make?” Asked at Facebook.
See the rest of the questions on Glassdoor.com.
And here are some answers we gathered to the pencil conundrum.
I would stand on the blades, in the middle. Then I would use my puffy shirt as a parachute, and hope that the wind from the blades pushes me up sufficiently towards the top that I could manoeuvre my way to the spout, and FREEDOM! – Neil
Unscrew the nut, remove the blades, go out the bottom…- Peter
I’d just pray that the blender had been through my dishwasher and therefore still had dried berry seeds coating the insides. This would turn the once smooth glass sides into a climbing wall like on a cruise ship or co-op owned mountain equipment retail store. Then I’d just coat my fingers with some protein powder (also left over from dishwasher) in place of chalk and ascend sans rope like Mr Cruise in Mission: Impossible II. Not like Mr Franco in 127 Hours. All (miniature) limbs will remain intact. – Tim
Remove cell phone from pocket. Call for help. – Peter
Beg. – Lee
Go to the corner of my blender, get bare feet and hands and use the friction to climb high enough to pull myself out. – Amanda
I’d wait for someone to add the margarita ingredients and then I’d swim to the top and wave my arms, and yell HELP! HELP! I can’t swim. Then I’d probably drown. – Daphne
Pencils are pretty tall, compared to blenders, so I bet you’d be big enough that you can press your back against one side & your feet against the other, and walk up to freedom (unless it is a slippery blender). – Katarina