Stack OverflowWhat is the worst interview question?
[+116] [88] Patrik
[2008-08-14 18:30:58]
[ interview-questions ]

What is the absolutely worst job interview question that you've been asked?
What did you answer? Did you get the job?

[+165] [2008-10-13 20:55:16] Federico Ramponi

"Tell me three faults of yours."

I hate it. I wish I answered: "I kill people. I worship Satan. I'm cannibal." I replied something different, and I didn't get the job.

(99) If it makes you feel better, if you had answered with those answers you probably still wouldn't have got the job. - Valerion
(57) Hmmmm... For this answer I just got the prestigious Necromancer badge. Is this a mere coincidence? (Thank you upvoters!) - Federico Ramponi
I don't have faults. I don't think about faults. Ever. Everyday I work more and more honing myself and my craft. There is no time to waste looking back upon what you might perceive as faults. There is only a point in looking forward, and growing more and more everyday. - Alex Baranosky
(1) @Federico: That would have been the best answer ever. I would have wanted to hire you on the spot. Assuming I was pretty sure you were joking, that is. - Beska
(2) @Beska: ... and assuming that wasn't a severed head lolling out of his bag... - Mitch Wheat
that's a nasty one alright - what about: I am a perfectionist - I work too much - I always prepare for the worst case scenario. - JohnIdol
(2) It's a pointless question, unless you're testing the ability of a candidate to distort negatives. No interviewer can hope to get an honest answer out of this question. If an interviewer really wants to know a person's flaws, do some behavioral interviewing: Tell me about a time things went wrong. - Furious Coder
Does anyone know why interviewers ask this? I recently had a variation on this question (on a non-programming interview), and, although I effectively dodged it (or so it seems to me), I kept thinking about it for the rest of the day. As far as I can tell, there's no right answer. - harpo
@Furious... (we commented at the same time) that's what I suspected. But is it really that? I wasn't interviewing to be a politician or a salesman... that seems so twisted. - harpo
@harpo This isn't a question about negatives - the interview is asking about your problem assessment and solving skills. For example, I tend to jump into projects without knowing the details, but lately I've started carrying a notepad to meetings to ensure I ask more questions. That's one. - Mike Robinson
(24) I think this question isn't so much trying to get you to admit a fault they can ding you for, but more to see if you are cognizant of your weaknesses and proactively address them. That said, the best answer is: "I am a terrible singer, I can't dance, and am bad at sports. Luckily, however, I am great at everything you need!" - JohnFx
(1) You should have said: "Location , location, location." - gnovice
(1) How about this answer: "I'll tell you three of mine if you tell me three of yours." One fault is iffy but OK. Three faults is way too personal for someone I may never see again, unless I plan to BS the faults anyway. - Kyralessa
@JohnFx: I used to agree with you -- the first part anyways -- until I once had a professor tell me about a time he asked that question and then laughed at the interviewee for admitting that she had faults. - Lord Torgamus
(4) Well, I got a seg fault yesterday... - Jeff B
I got a similar question being interviewed at Opera: "Tell me the second worst thing about you. The worst thing you can keep to yourself." Of course, you know no bad things about yourself, cuz nobody tells ya... - Tor Valamo
(2) Move aside geeks and let an HR expert explain this one: we don't give a flying **** what you say, we're watching your response - do you have to think about it? do you squirm? do you do the blank stare like Dubya did when asked about his performance? We assume anything you say is a lie, what we seek is how you say it. - Andrew Heath
(27) @Andrew Heath (HR Expert), "we don't give a flying ** what you say" "We assume anything you say is a lie" These statements and your magnificent condescension prove once and for all why "HR experts" are the most despised people at almost every company. It makes sense that you need to rely on watching interviewee responses, you and your fellow HR experts are have no idea about assessing technical abilities. - Ashley Henderson
@Valerion: To give your answer more basis, the reasoning probably would've been that he didn't have the conviction to believe those three traits weren't faults. - dclowd9901
(7) So Andrew is looking for people who can lie without giving it away in their body language? One wonders what business he's in where that's such an important ability. - Kyralessa
(1) @Kyralessa Politics. - Shawn
(1) @Shawn or its close cousin.. management! - community_owned
[+115] [2009-02-20 06:15:45] Chris Peterson

Interviewer: Are you married? Do you have any children?

Me: Aren't those questions illegal?

Interviewer: Oh, I just want to make sure you're a good fit for our team.


Same Interviewer: Are you willing to work on a trial basis for 6 weeks before we pay you? I require this of all my engineering hires because I only want to hire engineers who are confident in their abilities.

(59) Response: Is this a good company to work for? Are you sure? Are you willing to let me burn the building down if I don't like it after six weeks? - Beska
(18) If not you, then someone soon, will be suing that company out of existence. - kenj0418
@Me: no, those questions aren't illegal. - Ben Collins
(157) Could you pay me 6 week's salary before hiring me? I only want to work for companies that are confident in their abilities. - Dour High Arch
(9) @Ben: In the U.S., I'm pretty sure it's illegal to ask those questions. And I upvoted this because I once had an interviewer ask something like "Even though it's illegal, I am wondering if you're married; I don't see a ring, so are you?" I didn't get an offer - and wouldn't have accepted it offered, but I probably should have sued them on principle ... - PTBNL
Yes, it's illegal. No, don't sue them. Just move on. - trenton
(1) You can sue them but especially in small industries it's not a good career move to sue a company :) - dr. evil
(3) I always try to back door my way into this question when I interview people. I hate the fact that its illegal. I want to know, because if I'm asking about kids, then I LIKE YOU and I WANT YOU ON MY TEAM. I'm about to go into my pitch on why we're awesome, and I'd like to tailor it to your needs. - Jonathan Beerhalter
(12) You know, being confident in my abilities implies being confident that I can get a job that'll actually pay me from day one. It also implies that I think my work is useful and worth being paid for. - David Thornley
(1) You don't necessarily have to sue for this. Sometimes agencies that enforce nondiscrimination laws will send test candidates to see if they get those kinds of questions. I read about one case where an apartment was for rent, and there was an answering machine. People who left messages in white-sounding voices were called back, but people who left messages in black-sounding voices weren't. It didn't require an individual to sue to make the case for discrimination. (Nonetheless, my impression is that people usually chat about families just to chat, not to discriminate.) - Kyralessa
Ah yes, of course you should sue them for doing something illegal. That's what the legal system is for in America. - John
I'm pretty sure you can't ask such questions in the UK either, the main reason they are asked is try and avoid a woman who is going to immediately have children and claim maternity pay. - John
(5) To interviewer: "Can I punch you in the face? Because I only want to work for people who can take a punch, and I have a feeling I'd be punching you a lot." - Dan
(4) Are you willing to pay me for 6 weeks before I do any work? I require this of all my employers such that I am confident in their ability to pay. - Winston Smith
I'm so confident of my abilities that I'm not going to work for free :/ - johnc
@PTBNL Perhaps it was just a lame precursor to a chat-up attempt? Cut the hapless slob some slack and take it as a compliment. As it stands, he (it was a he, wasn't it?) is the loser; suing is almost always the way to steal that role for oneself, even if you win. (The working for free question, OTOH, is unforgivable. You can do that to yourself when you start your own company. From a potential employer, it is simultaneously an insult to you and an admission of utter uselessness from them.) - walkytalky
@walkytalky: It's been many years, but my recollection is that we were long past the chatting stage, and the question felt more like a challenge to see if I would "play along" than a compliment. As I originally said, maybe I should have sued, but I obviously I didn't. And I said that not to get revenge or teach them a lesson, but thinking that companies that break the law in an interview may not stop there, and should be exposed. So, how about cutting me some slack? However, it's true that career damage could result, which is part of why companies can get away with such behavior. - PTBNL
@PTBNL Possibly "chat-up" has a different meaning in your locality than mine? But I completely agree that companies should be held to account for systematic line-crossing, and may often get away with it because interviewees are (rightly and wrongly, IYSWIM) afraid of being branded troublemakers. I just think we also need to bear in mind that the people interviewing us are human too. Having been on both sides of that process many times, I'm all too aware of how easy it is to screw up without it having to be a policy. In any case, consider yourself cut as much slack as you deem appropriate. - walkytalky
@walkytalky: Thanks for the slack! To me, "chatting up" in an interview context would be what you do early to try to relax the interviewee, and my recollection is that we were fairly deep into the interview when this occurred. - PTBNL
or you could expose the company by "accidentally" letting out their name in internet message boards... like this one.. - user279521
"Are you asking me if I'm married with children, so that If I say no you will feel less guilty about not paying me?" - Adrian
[+111] [2008-08-14 18:31:58] SQLMenace [ACCEPTED]

They asked me if I smoked pot in Amsterdam, and yes I got the job.

(3) Sounds like a trick question to me. - spoulson
(31) You said "yes", right? Right?? I know I wouldn't hire anyone who'd been to Amsterdam and didn't smoke pot while there. - Sam Wessel
(54) Was the next question "Did you inhale?"? - Joe Skora
(13) I am a developer working in Amsterdam (yes, indeed right now) but I have never used any pot in Amsterdam. - tuinstoel
(1) Nope, I just ate the brownies. :P - dotjoe
Actually a good question imo. - Commander Keen
(2) uhm sorry for being so noob, but why did this question got voted up? i mean whats with smoking pots and amsterdam? - lock
(8) @lock, it's a good answer. I think that this is a poor interview question because your employer isn't entitled to pry into your personal life. What you do on your time is your business. - Nik Reiman
(1) @Nik if what you do in your personal life affects you professionally, then it's in the employer's best interest to know. Note that I'm not being specific. - bug-a-lot
(1) I don't see why smoking pot is relevant to your job? The only reason they drug test is because its so cheap and the standard now. As long as your personal life doesn't effect your work life, I don't see the problem, especially if you may have had some fun on vacation.. give me a break. - Domenic
(1) Moreover, the fact that I smoked the stuff once doesn't mean I ever did it again. - David Thornley
(1) @Sam Wessel: @SQLMenace shouldn't tell us how he answered. He should hold us in suspense. ;) - Jim G.
(6) You guys have to do a drug test to get a job? In the country that prides itself on civil liberties? That is illegal in every state in oz to request any medical testing unless the job has a specific requirement (such as heavy lifting or military/security work). - Spence
@Spence- Whoever said America prides itself on civil liberties? America is the land of the free... the drug-free, that is. - Rob Lourens
I had a similar experience - I was interviewed by a Sikh who actually asked me if I drank alcohol and whether I had a "drink problem". This was in the UK, FWIW. - Paul R
You could have answered Aphex Twin-style: "Pot? What is 'pot'?" - TheBlastOne
[+101] [2008-08-15 13:23:53] Jim Birchall

Interviewer: Can you start now?

Me: What like, NOW, now...

Interviewer: Yes

(11) I've had this before, although I didn't even receive an interview. I asked for the job and was given it there and then. I had to beg them to actually sign a contract before I started working. Nevertheless, I discovered that it was a hellhole, and I left soon after. - Mike B
(14) Happened to me too. No interview, no worries. I've worked for the same company for 6 years now, happily. Amazingly, they flew me from Illinois to Florida a couple days after I called and inquired about the position. Perfect recipe for disaster, but turned out to be a miracle :) - Jonathan Sampson
(4) @Ender: No surprises there. I find that the more loose a company's interview/hiring process, the worse they treat their employees. - dclowd9901
I had this question too. I answered no. Not only did I not get the job, but the jerk giving the interview pretended for several weeks that I might get it and just blew me off. - Rice Flour Cookies
Guys at startup companies do that often. I take that as a good sign -- that the company is rolling and growing. - OTZ
Had that situation in my first ever job. It was an IT help desk position, the boss knew I was fresh out of school and not working, so five minutes after the end of the interview I was in their storeroom untangling a few miles of miscellaneous cables. :-) - Carson63000
@Mike and @Jonathan.... Candidate: I heard you have an opening for a developer, When can we have the interv..; Employer: You are appointed! You start from Monday. - community_owned
[+86] [2008-08-14 18:39:26] Fabio Gomes
  1. Are you available to work overtime?
  2. Can you work on saturdays?

Yes, I truly believe that working less enhances productivity.

...10 hour work days, pay parking, suit/tie dress code, yadda yadda... Not my kind of job. - spoulson
Amen. I've seen first-hand how productivity degrades as people start piling on the hours. - Joeri Sebrechts
(1) As long as I get paid by the hour, I don't mind. But I agree that overtime leads to a decline in productivity. - Kristopher Johnson
(44) If that's their expectations, I think it's good that they were up front about it. - kenj0418
(11) Can you work on caturdays? :) - Arnis L.
(29) "Can you work on Saturdays?" is a coded question that is asking if you are Jewish. Asking an interviewee if they are Jewish is an illegal question, but that doesn't stop the covert racism that still goes on. - Tangurena
(2) If you see those and unless it's a startup run for your life. - dr. evil
(2) @tangurena: It can also mean that there will be a legitimate need to work on Saturdays, but if that's not made clear I'd infer that the place is anti-Semitic, and probably a bad place to work for. - David Thornley
(5) @tangurena: It's a small fraction of Jewish folk who actually observe the sabbath. For instance, both of my parents (surgeon and a lawyer . . . don't stereotype me!) worked Saturdays all the time. - Novelocrat
(29) A good answer to that is always "are you gonna pay overtime?" - ZJR
(7) @tangurena If that's the case, then it's an inefficient question, since they'll get a lot of false positives. I'm not Jewish, but I won't work on Saturdays either. - Cerin
I've had enough overtime jobs to not fear asking these outright during an interview. If they think I'm a slacker because I don't want to put in 70 hours a week to make them more money, screw them. - dclowd9901
(4) @ZJR: good answer. Another is, "will you/management be here when we are working overtime/Saturdays?" - John
@tangurena.... THANK YOU FOR THE LAUGH. I really needed that today !!!!!! - user279521
(4) @tangurena whats the coded question to ask somebody if he is black? - rabidmachine9
[+78] [2009-02-17 04:27:43] Jonathan Sampson

Years ago I submitted to The Daily WTF [1] an experience I had interviewing somebody for a programming position:

"How often do you read tech-related news and blogs online?" I asked

"Well, technology isn't really changing," he replied, "the more things change, the more we realize they stay the same."

I restated the question. "Okay, but how often do you read tech news to keep up with the latest in security exploits and application compromising?"

"Well, applications will always have security holes" he said.

It was the long way to say "I don't read tech news," so I moved on and posed a simple question: "If you were presented with a SQL-injection bug that allowed unfettered access to any user's account, how would you go about fixing this problem?"

"Well, if you're using Windows," he replied, "these problems will always be around."

Perhaps that's the long way of saying "I don't know." I tried another question: "how familiar are you with the .NET Framework?"

"Well," he said hesitantly, "to be honest, I didn't want to pay the subscription fee for it so I never was able to download it."

"Subscription fee," I questioned, "you know it's a free download, right?"

"Oh," he said, a bit confused, "neat! They must have changed that."


(7) I actually know a guy like that! - Lucas McCoy
I can SOOOO picture a guy that went to my university saying that. - russau
(81) Reminds me of a person I knew who refused to use CSS because it was "proprietary Microsoft crap". - Scott
I really liked the last three lines :-) - NinethSense
(1) I have a friend who insists .NET's ArrayList class is broken... He's never explained why he insists this. - Jasarien
Wow! That's like ... everyone I know. - Alex
(3) @Scott Tell me about it! I wish someone will open-source CSS one of these days... \s - Cerin
This made me happy. Whenever I go for an interview feeling totally unqualified I will always remember this. - Patrik Björklund
(11) @Jonathan, please read the question carefully! "what is the worst interview question?" Making fun of stupid interviewees should be done on… (if it wasn't closed). Then again some of your questions were pretty ordinary. - Ashley Henderson
(1) wait...its free now? - Stomp
(5) Agree with @Ash. This is funny, but it's not a bad interview question, it's a bad interview experience. - musicfreak
(1) "Well, applications will always have security holes" .... all I can think when I read this was 'as long as there are people like you in the industry.' ... just sad. - John MacIntyre
(2) Reminds of the boss I once had who told me to write a program in C instead of Java so that it would be portable. - PTBNL
[+63] [2008-09-22 22:00:29] HLGEM

Personally I hate the stupid questions you are expected to lie on such as "Why do you want to leave your current position?" Honestly, if you tell the truth on this one you have little chance of getting the job. What bothers me is that they expect you to lie and therefore they are giving preference to employees who lie well.

(3) This is exactly why I hate the "what is your biggest fault" question as well. If you answer it honestly you actually give them a reason not to hire you. - hwiechers
(21) Huh? I've always answered the "why are you leaving" question honestly. Hasn't affected the offers. Biggest fault, yeah, that one is stupid. - SquareCog
(76) it's all about how you answer. "My boss is an abusive jerk who treats me like his monkey and takes credit for my work" can easily be rephrased as "the environment there isn't the kind that I thrive in and I'm looking for a more rewarding atmosphere." - nerdabilly
Yes, nerdabilly is right, it's all about packaging the response. But I agree that questions that "expect" you to lie are very dumb. - TM.
(26) If you have any interaction with clients, the ability to put positive spin on things is definitely an important skill. - Eli
My biggest fault is that I have no faults... No. I think you always answer that one with something that could be precieved as a fault but also a plus like; "I try too hard", "I can never let a project go", they can be seen as faults but the employer may read them differently. - widgisoft
(4) For the "fault" question, pick not your worst fault but some minor one that you overcame and describe how well you improved. This way you can turn a negative into another positive. (hat tip to nerdabilly) - Torben Gundtofte-Bruun
(2) This is one of a number of interview questions where a good answer won't get you hired, but a bad answer will get you disqualified. If you're so socially obtuse that you would actually answer "My boss is an abusive jerk etc. etc.", then you won't get hired. They're giving you a chance to shoot yourself in the foot, basically. - Kyralessa
(1) I think the problem with a lot of people who feel like they have to lie to answer this question correctly is that they aren't considering that there are honest-to-goodness, understandable reasons that a person would want to leave their current company. People understand a lot more than we tend to give them credit for. Just make sure you phrase your explanation in a mature way. As a matter of fact, this question is probably intended to gauge your maturity level. - dclowd9901
[+55] [2008-08-15 15:11:03] Wally Lawless

My absolute worst was: Have you ever written code to bypass a pop-up blocker?

This was for a position at a web advertising agency, the job description was "Create an maintain applications for managing online marketing campaigns." I should have known better...

Needless to say, I didn't take that job when it was offered.

(4) It's an interesting proposition if you have a hacker mindset, but just wrong if put to real use! - Zach
Unfortunately, I have written code to bypass a pop-up blocker. It sucked but it was an interesting little problem. - Andy Hume
(1) Does it make me a bad person if I actually wrote a code to bypass a pop-up blocker? - Randell
(16) I consider such code malware, and I want anybody who uses such code (not necessarily writes such code) to be prosecuted to the full extent of the law. - David Thornley
(4) "No need, Firefox's Adblock extension works perfectly." - Cerin
@David Thornley I agree, we should definitely sue people who write popups. - Cerin
(2) You should have gotten the job. If you can write code to bypass a pop-up blocker, perhaps you'd know how to code a pop-up that can't be bypassed. But that would be evil. - Scott Christopherson
[+49] [2008-08-15 13:47:21] Martin

I can't remember exactly, it was some time ago, but it went something like:

Interviewer: Can you tell me a little about variable naming conventions?

Me: Well there is Hungarian notation, and then there......

Interviewer: Huh! I've never heard of Hungarian, what's that?

In the end I declined the job

(51) Maybe that's a GOOD thing. - JohnFx
I knew that kind of notation, but didn't know that it is called Hungarian. Thanks. :) - Daniyar
(13) I'd probably say that a strshop that had never heard of strHungarian would probably be a good place to strwork. - Rich Bradshaw
(9) Or it could be a bad sign. They could use it, but don't know it's the Hungarian notation. - Ikke
(4) Hungarian notation is designed for the variables purpose, not type. See: - LM.
I was asked what I thought of Hungarian notation. I replied that it was a really bad idea. Turned out they were big on it. I was offered the job but didn't take it. Couldn't get past the idea of having to wear a suit every day. - Ferruccio
Maybe he wanted you to elaborate? - Winston Smith
I really don't see why lack of knowledge on little random tidbits of information like this makes the company a bad place to work. In a lot of fields, especially Computer Science, what's important is conceptual understanding, problem solving skills (literally solving programming problems), and experience not encyclopedic recall of random names and taxonomy. There's google for that. - Razor Storm
Razor: You are right - but they were asking about conventions, not concepts. - Martin
[+46] [2009-02-20 05:58:00] Chris Ballance

"Where do you see yourself in five years"

This is the IT industry, not a lot of folk will be on the same gig five years later. Do you really want me to answer that?

One interviewer expected me to tell him what I would talk about with my friends on the same day in 5 years. How should I know? I'm not a foreteller. - mooware
(55) Sitting your chair interviewing you. - Bill Martin
(13) It is a classic. I was asked it at Procted&Gamble. The right answer is generally to be a small group leader with responsibility. The goal, as I was told, is to make sure you'll adopt the promotional career spirit and run after the carrot. - chmike
(7) The interviewer wants to know if you have ambition. They want people who want to better themselves. Whether you move on or not is not their primary concern. My advice to interviewees - stop trying to 2nd guess the motives of the interview and answer the questions straight. - Sam Meldrum
(1) @Sam: Exactly. The reason for an interview is to figure out whether or not you'll actually be a good fit for the company (It sounds like HR bullcrap, but it's really not). Do you really want to work for a company that you'll be miserable working for, because they expect you to pump out 80 hour workweeks for some elusive managerial position? Would that make you happy if that's their expectation? Sometimes not being hired is the best thing that could happen to you. - dclowd9901
@dclowd9901 "Sometimes not being hired is the best thing that could happen to you" - How true that statement is. - Chris Ballance
"On a spaceship to Mars." - JAB
"I see myself in your office, behind your desk, holding your letter opener, with you in a bloody mess... Maybe in 3 years, but 5 is the latest." - Nicholas
In a mirror! (from cyanide&happiness) - ihavenoaccount
[+46] [2009-03-10 06:38:53] teedyay

"Will you mind if your colleagues mock your accent?"

what accents were involved? were you overseas or was that within a single country (i.e. regional accent) - ChrisHDog
(13) This was in Derby (central UK); my accent's from Somerset (South-West UK). It's an accent that's stereotypically used by idiots. It sounds like that used by the locals in Hot Fuzz ( If you've seen the film - remember the bit where they needed two people to translate what the old farmer was saying? That's what my Grandad spoke like: I could understand every word. - teedyay
What *&@#^%$ accent, dude? - Velika
(3) Will they mind if I mock theirs? - Winston Smith
(13) Answer: "Of course not. In fact it is essential to properly unit test my vocal module." - Robert Groves - Cameron MacFarland
[+41] [2009-03-10 10:17:58] John Feminella

I've had quite a few unconventional ones:

  • Who's hotter: Jessica Alba or Scarlett Johansson? [I said Scarlett.]
  • Apples or oranges? ["Tangerines."]
  • How quickly can you tie shoelaces? [Never figured out where this one was going.]
  • Are you ambidextrous? ["Yes, for some things." The interview looked disappointed when I said that I was.]
  • Do you ever wake up in the morning, look in the mirror, and say "f--- my life?" ["... No, not really." I think he was having a bad day.]

(8) Heh. +1 for tangerines. - Joe White
I can tie them damn quick with the Ian Knot, thanks for asking. - Christopher Galpin
(43) wrong, the correct answer is jessica alba - Domenic
(45) +1 for scarlett - knittl
(22) I can tie my shoelaces in no time if my wife catch me with Jessica and Scarlett!!! - Jose Chama
Maybe the shoelace one was to see whether you believe in verifying performance. The right answer: "I don't know. Let's find out. Got your watch ready?" - Kyralessa
It really depends - in Fantastic 4 or Dsark Angel, I'd go with Jessica, but Scarlett in anything else. - AviD
(32) Jessica and Scarlett both hover around 37.0 °C (98.6 °F). - Robert Groves
@Robert: +1 for the lesson in biology :) - yas4891
[+38] [2009-03-10 06:49:48] Kevin ORourke

"What are you like when you're drunk?"

(103) Answer: I don't know. No one has drank me before. - kenj0418
(132) Answer2: You're looking at it. - JohnFx
(3) even more awesomer! :) - knittl
(33) Answer2 is good but I think I prefer it as "Ask me when I'm sober." - jmucchiello
(7) Ballmer curve ftw! - corymathews
(3) Answer3: Let's find out! - Cerin
"I can't remember - its been too long since I was last sober" - Dave Kirby
Do not remember.... I was pissed drunk at the time - Newtopian
(1) I write some of the best code you've ever seen. - JC.
[+38] [2008-08-15 14:46:58] John with waffle
[+37] [2008-09-21 22:08:57] user20077

"You're re-designing this floor of this building. How do you decide to equip the restrooms?"

The problem wasn't the question - as a test of how you a programmer thinks, it's fine.

The problem was this guy had a "right" answer in mind for this, and wasn't satisfied with anything else, even if it worked.

It turns out I know a lot about this exact problem, having supervised an office building build-out a few years before. In most places in the U.S., that's governed by the local building code. You get info like the square footage and expected occupancy, and look it up. The code gives you how many mens' rooms and how many women's rooms, and how many toilets and urinals and sinks to put in each. You can add more if you want. That is a definitive answer.

But he didn't like that. So I started doing the Feynman-esque estimation thing, but every time I came up with an assumption to base the estimate on (X people, Y square feet), or a resource to get valid information from (look at similar buildings), he told me to toss it out. As a programmer with academic and professional backgrounds in theoretical mathematics and chemistry, I tried the entire range of estimation schemes from airy-fairy to eminently-practical, but nothing I came up with made him satisfied. It was a profoundly unsatisfying experience for both of us.

There were other problems with other interviewers there, too. After multiple hours of interviews, they never even gave me the courtesy of a call to let me know they didn't want me. A current co-worker I esteem had worked there, and he said, "Bob, you are so lucky you didn't get that gig!"

(3) So did you find out what was the expected answer? Just curious.. :) - Marcel Tjandraatmadja
(4) Honestly it sounds like you should go into private contracting and leave this whole programming thing behind - Mike Robinson
(14) Yeah, I would have taken your first answer, said, "wow, that's awesome". Sadly, it wouldn't have told me much about how you could program, but I'd know who to go to for a corporate bathroom redesign. - Beska
(5) what was the right answer? - ykaganovich
(4) Never did find out what the interviewer thought the "right" answer was. It was a strange place. The recruiter said interview attire was "business formal", so I showed up in a suit, and was the only person in the building wearing a necktie. They were selling email server software and had never heard of sendmail. After doing an all-afternoon interview, they never called me and my calls and emails to the recruiter went into a black hole. I worked at a job later with a couple of guys who'd worked there, and they said by not getting hired, I'd dodged a bullet. - Bob Murphy
"A current co-worker I esteem had worked there, and he said, "Bob, you are so lucky you didn't get that gig!"" Errrm, shouldn't he have been saying that before the interview? You did ask him, didn't you? Sounds like one of you dropped the ball. Just sayin' - Mawg
(1) You interviewed at Intel too? :-) Coming out of college, by the far the most bizarre and hostile interview session I had was at Intel/Folsom. Never had another experience like that, thank God. - Dan
[+34] [2009-02-26 20:51:58] rmz

I remember some commenter on The Daily WTF that said that he would randomly throw out an Airplane! quote (e.g. "Do you like movies about gladiators?"), with the comment that "if they didn't get the reference, I would move on, and that would tell me something about their personality."

I would love to get turned down for a job because I haven't seen their favorite movie.

(14) So, have you ever seen a grown man naked? - Valerion
Man Valerion that made me crack up. I freaking love that movie. - Paolo Bergantino
(11) Have you ever spent time in a Turkish prison? - kenj0418
(9) Whats your vector, Victor? - Neil N
(5) Check your clearance, Clarance. - Bayard Randel
(29) I guess the ideal answer to this would be "Surely you can't be serious?" - Zeus
(12) "I am, and don't call me Shirley" - DevinB
Are you under, over? - user279521
(1) I guess I picked the wrong week to stop sniffing glue. - Jimmy
[+28] [2009-04-27 22:23:02] boj

"Do you want a baby?"

(79) A: "I just met you. Ask me again on our 3rd date." - JohnFx
hehehe, cool :) - boj
hehe .. really nice :D - whacko__Cracko
(4) You should have answered : Is it a perk with the job? - Deepak Singh Rawat
Sure...I can always ebay it! - Stomp
(12) Why? You have one you don't want anymore? - Larry Lustig
(39) A: "No thanks, I'm stuffed." - Charlie Salts
(1) Not If I don't get this job:) ... - THEn
[+27] [2008-08-31 15:21:45] Pete Kirkham

Interviewer: How do you make Smarties?
Me: I guess you'd spray the candy shells onto cooled chocolate.
Interviewer: But the chocolate would melt.
Me: You could build it up in layers.
Interviewer: That still wouldn't work.
waste a few minutes in further suggestions, such as free fall, finally giving up
Interviewer: No, the chocolate is refrigerated first then the shell is sprayed on in layers.

They turned me down, as 'although I was technically very strong, I didn't answer the puzzle questions well enough'. A few weeks later, after I'd got another contract paying twice as much, they called back and offered the job after all. I declined.

(you have to cool chocolate production lines anyway, since the machinery generates heat)

Huh? Smarties are hard candy, basically flavored sugar disks. These sound like M&Ms. What kind of crazy candy chaos have you got cooking in your country? ;) - erickson
Also, I call BS - why would you go for 2 jobs that differ in pay by a factor of 1:2? - Iain
(10) In Canada smarties are basically the same thing as M&Ms. What you call Smarties are called "Rockets" in Canada. - Eclipse
Smarties are the same as M & M's in my country too... I thought they were like that everywhere... where do you live, erickson? - Sandman
(permanent job commutable from my home and wife in Scotland vs contract job working away near London, hence different pay levels but obvious trade-off) - Pete Kirkham
(11) In the U.S., Smarties are flavored sugar disks. Everywhere else they are same things as M&Ms. - Seamus
Wow, the things you learn about Smarties! - Alex Baranosky
(5) I've always said that SO is the place to encounter Smarties. - Beska
I'm eating some big "american" smarties right they are an excellent source of sugar :) - dotjoe
(2) Just for the record M&Ms are actually a copy of smarties. Look it up on wikipedia - Willbill
I once went to the Rowntree's factory in York (may be closed now) and saw them making Smarties - drums with a tonne or so of smarties in, one for each colour. Different countries have different colours. Some countries have toffee flavoured smarties. The orange ones are orange flavoured. - Skizz
(7) Smarties != M&Ms! Smarties are superior in every way (proper British ones at least). - Valerion
(1) @Willbill - Very reliable source ;-) - Dan Seaver
In the UK smarties SUCK.... - cgreeno
Smarties and M&Ms are two different things in germany - M&Ms FTW ;-) - Dave O.
Smarties are a little bigger than M&Ms and, as my 2 year old discovered, don't fit in novelty M&M dispensers. And the orange Smarties taste different. - johnc
In the Chech Republic and Slovakia they are called Lentilky :) - prostynick
[+26] [2008-09-22 22:04:53] Iulian Şerbănoiu

The worst (I'm always asked): Where Do You See Yourself in N Years? (where N is variable).

I find it as the most annoying question that can be asked.

(23) answer: in a mirror, same as today! - Steven A. Lowe
(6) Say - "On the other side of this table." - Jack
(4) At performance review I did once answer this with "Your job looks alright." But I've long since left and that manager is still in the same position. - Andrew Kennan
I figure a formulaic question deserves a formulaic answer. Where "company" is the place you're interviewing: "I'm really interested in the #{company.industry} segment, and I really enjoy working for companies that #{company.random_attribute}, so I hope I'm still doing that kind of work." - Sarah Mei
@steven - lol I might have to borrow that one ;) - dotjoe
I really like this question. It's a good marker of enthusiasm. And it's important to understand an applicants ambitions. If they have none, I don't want them... - bowsie
-1, this is a good question. If you don't like it you don't have many goals - Click Upvote
i'd actually really like it if it was phrased as "N" years and you could give a couple answers: 1 year just looking to pay bills and not starve to death 15 years hoping to buy a house 25 years my plans for world domination and the building of "the device" should be nearing completion - ChrisHDog
(6) It may be a marker of enthusiasm or ambition (though I doubt that), but it's not relevant to success in any way. Look at Linus Torvalds' first email about Linux in 1991, and compare it with where it is today. Some very successful people just don't care about their personal future at all (which doesn't mean they don't plan). - J S
Personally I'd be real suspicious of anyone who does have an answer because it shows they are, well, fundamentally boring. - Cruachan
(3) answer: Not working here. - Cerin
[+26] [2009-02-26 21:26:09] Beska

Once when I'd applied for a job at a University, I had to fill out a long questionaire filled with questions like:

"When was a time that you had a difficult job situation, and how were you able to resolve it?"

So I put down a fairly stock (but true) answer, and moved on.

When I was called in for my interview, the interviewer calls me into his office and has me sit down. He then opens up a folder, pulls out the original questionaire that I filled out WITH MY ANSWERS ON IT, and asks (reading off the questionaire):

"When was a time that you had a difficult job situation, and how were you able to resolve it?"

What the heck? Can't he read? Does he want me to come up another example? Does he not believe that I wrote the original? Does he think I can't remember? What on earth does this guy want?

So I figure, okay...I say something along the lines of "Well, as I stated in the questionaire, blah blah blah...", briefly outlining what I said before, and follow up with, "...but another example might be blah blah blah..." where I went into another example.

The guy looks at me like I'm speaking in Swahili.

I finish up. He shakes his head slowly and sadly a few times as though alternating between pity and confusion. He asks me three more questions from the questionaire, then thanks me for my time and lets me know that they'll let me know soon.

They never bothered getting back to me.

To this day, I have no idea what on earth this guy wanted from me.

He could have asked the question as an honesty test. If you made it up you would likely not give the same answer next time. - Loren Pechtel
That's kind of what I thought, which is why I started by summarizing what I'd written down. Didn't seem to help - Beska
Most likely the position was already being given to someone he knew and was just going through the motions. He was looking at you zoning out because what you said didn't matter. - rball
Sadly, considering the situation, that's probably true. I know that often happens in that environment. - Beska
(23) You were applying at a university? That wasn't a questionnaire; that was the list of interview questions. For interviews at my university (a public one), we're required to give interviewees a list of the questions they'll be asked, presumably to meet ADA and EEO regulations. There's space on the paper so the candidate can make notes to him/herself. We have to read the questions verbatim to every candidate. Any change in wording (accidental or not) must be repeated to every candidate. Coming from industry, it seems crazy to me. - Barry Brown
(3) One applicant I asked that question of described a disagreement he had with his boss. How did he say he resolved it? He said he "punched" his boss. Needless to say he didn't get the job. - Bill
[+25] [2009-02-24 16:36:26] Pat

If you were a cereal, what kind of cereal would you be and why?
Answer: Golden Grahams
Job offered: No

(6) You didn't say why :) - Roger Lipscombe
(41) Answer: Killer, Job offered: No, Police called: probably - kenj0418
(3) Golden Grahams: there's your problem right there. The correct answer is Cookie Crisp. - Steve Tjoa
Answer: Lucky Charms. - Winston Smith
Captain Crunch, because it has the best decoder rings. - Robert Groves
+1 for Golden Grahams - x3ro
[+25] [2008-08-14 18:49:18] Pascal

The worst and most irrelevant question I have been asked is: Are you a vegan?

And after the interview, I was sure I didn't want to work there even if they offered me tha job.

Isnt that one illegal, like asking about religion? - metao
@metao: yes I think it is illegal. Getting people to care enough to prosecute the company is another story. - TM.
@metao: veganism != religion. Case in point, I am a vegan and an atheist. Also, I've heard some weirder questions come up when the interviewer tries to initiate small talk. - Juliet
I think that is illegal anyway, regardless of wheher that is a "religion" or not. That could easily be a discrimination issue. - BobbyShaftoe
@TM job discrimination is not a criminal offense, it is a civil litigation issue. If you don't think there are lawyers interested in civil litigation then I have a bridge to sell you. :) - BobbyShaftoe
(12) Yep. Discrimination is absolutely legal (in the US), provided it's not specifically made illegal. For instance, I can refuse to hire you because you wear only red ties. That's discrimination, but it's okay. Not okay to discriminate over religion, gender, age, etc... - Beska
(16) You sure they didn't say "Virgin"? Could've been some strange ritualistic place... lucky you didn't take it! - Valerion
(1) @Valerion, Steve Jobbs asked IBM guy if he was a virgin in "Pirates of Silicon Valley". - Daniyar
(4) So many of these postings end with "Needless to say, I turned down the job after being offered." So he asked you if you were a Vegan. Big hoot! I would have asked quipped back "Why do you ask?" - Velika
[+25] [2008-08-14 18:50:14] Akira

"How would you determine how many gas stations a town needs?"

That's a question Microsoft uses.

According to this, not anymore:… - Kyralessa
(5) Today I would answer: "I'd ask a statistician," - Georgi
(1) 1. Build 1. 2. If business is really freakin' off the wall. goto step 1. 3. Repeat as necessary. - Gutzofter
A lot of people hated those microsoft puzzle questions, but I thought they were good. Obviously, they couldn't take the place of technical questions, but they were good for seeing how people would approach a problem they didn't have direct experience with. - Beska
(272) This is Microsoft right? So...gas station home, gas station basic, gas station premium, gas station business, gas station professional, gas station ultimate. Six. The town will need six gas stations. - Mike Robinson
Hahah, that's a great burn, Mike. - Matt Olenik
(38) I used to ask questions like that at Microsoft. I never cared whether you got the answer "right" or not. I used questions like this to quickly find out a) whether you were willing to try to solve a problem that didn't immediately seem relevant or not, and b) could you explain your reasoning, and c) was your reasoning reasonably sound or completely made up, and d) did you know the different between sound reasonining and made up reasoning. I still think those are all things I'd want to know before I hired anyone. - Alan McBee
(3) I was asked this once. Answer was simple, I was born in city which has about 70000ppl and i know that there is about 10 gas stations, so i estimated that there is one gas station per 7000ppl :) - m1k4
(17) I would do nothing. Petroleum derivatives as a product group are fungible commodities and the free market will rapidly determine the optimal service level without any intervention and will continue to adjust service levels dynamically for so long as the system exists. - Peter Wone
(7) "Search for an answer on Google" Bada- bing, bada-boom. - John
@Mike Robinson:you missed Enterprise, and 16 32 64 bit ones. - Behrooz
(1) The only way to really determine how much of something people need, is to let the pricing mechanism and the law of supply and demand do its thing. Thus, an entrepeneur exploiting a single gas station, would make huge profits, and thus the profit motive would attract more gas stations to the town. Alas, let the free market do its work. But, is microsoft looking for an economist? - IceHeat
[+24] [2008-08-14 18:44:27] jacobko

Interviewer: Tell me about Collections (in Java).

Me: It's a framework for data structures.

Interviewer: Can you name them all?

Clearly, I failed to name all of the collections from memory. I still got the job anyways.

From the moment I heard that question, I should have known that it was a reverse interview.

Actually, this isn't so bad. I've asked people as an early question to give me a general overview of the collections to get a sense of their general knowledge, especially when the person was a beginner and I thought they might be clueless. Asking them to name them all is pretty dumb, though. - Steve B.
It's a question I always ask. I don't want to have all the implementations but the three interfaces (List Set and Map)... - pgras
(20) +1 for "Reverse Interview" - Adam Backstrom
List, Set, and Map... Right, I think I've got it now. - Andriy M
(1) "(List Set and Map)..." so what is Queue then, chopped liver? - krock
[+24] [2008-08-21 14:57:08] Quibblesome

It's not the worst but I did get asked once:

What is the difference between the private and public keywords?

To which I answered the obvious solution, to which the interviewer sighed with relief and stated:

You know, out of the four people to come here today you're the first to get that question right!

OMG! WhoTF were the other applicants? Potential cleaners that had got wandered into the wrong interview room?

(1) When I was interviewing, I always asked them to name each of those and what it did. Very few knew all four (or five, depending on your perspective) in C#, let alone what they do. There truly are a lot of candidates who don't know the "obvious" stuff. - Kyralessa
(19) I would not qualify this as a bad question, as it actually questions the applicants understanding of a very basic concept and helps weed out those who have clearly gone wrong. - Christian P.
... what ARE private and public keywords? Is that like private and public variables? Is this a C# thing? - SquareCog
(2) @ Dmitriy, pretty much, in C# you can apply the keywords to fields, properties, methods, events and classes. Public = accessible to all, Protected = accessible to this and subclasses, Private = only accessible to this, Internal = publicly accessible to others inside the same assembly (.dll/.exe). - Quibblesome
(1) Having interviewed people myself, I am not at all surprised to hear that most applicants don't know the answer. - Kristopher Johnson
(4) I agree. EVERY candidate we interview, we ask this question. It's at the phone interview stage, not face-to-face, but we still ask it. Not knowing is almost auto-fail. - Marcin
(5) Similarly many candidates I get can't tell me (accurately) the difference between a struct and a class in C++. I do enjoy the strange theories they come up with sometimes though. - jeffamaphone
[+24] [2009-04-27 23:07:08] John Rasch

If there was a problem, what steps would you take to solve it?

Naturally, I said "it depends... is it an IT problem? A car accident? A drinking problem? ... etc."

The interviewer refused to narrow the scope and left it a "general problem", whatever the hell that is.

I could tell he was not happy with my "general answer" of "try to solve it, if I can't solve it on my own find someone or some others who can."

Really, how are you supposed to even answer this?

(3) "I'd analyze the specifics of the problem, formulate a series of steps to solve it, and then execute them?" - Sukasa
(15) If there was a problem, yo -- I'll solve it! (even dun dun dun da da dun dun - under pressure) - Christopher Galpin
(1) @Galpin don't forget to check out my "hooks" whilst my companion resolves it - amischiefr
(3) Before continuing, I'd double check to make sure it actually is a problem... /reply - 280Z28
Pretty common problem solving steps: Analyze the problem, Brainstorm what(any) actions could be taken, estimate outcomes of previous actions, select best, implement, evaluate results. - Jonathan Fingland
@Jonathan - that is too generic. Imagine you've just t-boned a truck in an intersection. You now have a problem. Is it time to analyze what just happened, get out a pen and paper to start brainstorming what to do next (call 911, call insurance, ask driver if he's OK, check damage, etc.), pick one of those options and then determine if that was the best choice? This sounds ridiculous because it is. Sometimes, the steps are just different depending on the situation and broadening the scope to cover all problems is completely useless. - John Rasch
(4) How about "I would apply a solution"? Really, that is a spectacularly stupid question. - Steve B.
@John Rasch I am guessing that the interviewer expected you to explain the GPS algorithm ( - Binil Thomas
(48) Regular expressions! - Larry Lustig
Break it down into a subset of smaller problems and solve each of them. - Winston Smith
(3) Invade Poland... - johnc
(2) @Larry Lustig, Now you have two problems! - Gary Willoughby
I'm pretty sure the right answer is "Check out the hook while my DJ revolves it" - simon
[+22] [2008-10-13 21:13:20] Flupkear

Worst question:

Does it bother you to work with girls?

It was a serious question, not a joke, I looked at them confused and said of course not!. This was three years ago today I'm still wondering wtf?

Luckily I didn't got the job, after that I met some guys in my current job that worked there who told me that it was an awful company.

Apparently he doesn't like working for girls (Not the female version). - Koekiebox
Was that in 'Cisco - highlevelcoder
no, it's a minor company. - Flupkear
(1) I'd have said: I have taught programming in middle and high-school, but most of the time I would rather focus on the job at hand. Oh wait... did you mean working with women? - mcherm
[+22] [2008-10-29 03:08:48] Julien Grenier

Him : "Are you available tomorrow?, we need someone to represents the developer group in a meeting with a potential client"

And It was clear (because of the rest of the interview) that I was supposed to say yes, for free and that I would not be hired after that.

did you say yes? - JohnIdol
(11) I would guess the proper response would be "Does that mean I'm hired?" - James Curran
(62) Sure, why not? At the meeting your response to everything is "we can do that" or "we already have that". - jmucchiello
(6) Say yes, be a jerk in the meeting, don't get the job. But hey you got a nice laugh out of it, right? - Lucas McCoy
Don't sign a contract, then you can be a jerk in the client meeting (or do what jmucchiello said) then just walk away. - DisgruntledGoat
[+21] [2009-04-06 17:52:18] community_owned

the one where they are asking you a legit question but they accidently spit when they talk and a little piece of spit lands on your face. should you wipe it off or what? I DONT KNOW IT S JUST SO AWKWARD!!!!!!!!

(1) i hate when that happens! - Nathan Reed
(2) I laughed out loud, thank you. - Adam Backstrom
(1) How is this "the worst interview question"? It maybe a worst interview experience but definitely not the former. - Deepak Singh Rawat
(3) The question is the one he's asking himself: "Should I wipe the spit off?" It's a terrible question to have to ask oneself in an interview. - Kyralessa
[+21] [2009-08-11 22:34:09] Bruce McGee

"What are your strengths and weaknesses?"

I listed "bad attitude" and "problems with authority" as strengths and got the job. It was that kind of place. :)

(3) wow, what kind of place is that? sounds like fun - hasen j
(1) A great place with even better people working with very cool technology. One of the best jobs I've ever had. - Bruce McGee
Lucky guy... :-p - Federico Giorgi
I can see "problem with authority" being viewed as a plus but "bad attitude?"-not so much. But I still like your answer! - Velika
[+16] [2008-08-31 14:06:02] Tim Ring

I got asked the eight pool balls question (see below). I'm quite annoyed at these sorts of questions as they really don't test your ability to solve real world problems in a reasonable time. The guy interviewing me got annoyed when I said I had heard it before, still insisting I answer the question. I was 45 at the time with over 25 years of solid experience. Look at my CV, don't ask me stupid puzzle questions,

The puzzle: You have eight pool balls, all identical looking, but one is slightly lighter. you have a balance scales that you can use twice only, how can you find the light ball?

(4) Answer: Take them home and use your own scale, where you're not subject to pointless restrictions. :) - Kyralessa
(1) It seems like a real world problem simplified to be solvable in a minute. It's not really an "aha!"-type puzzle, but the plodding application of simple logic toward an inescapable conclusion. - erickson
(16) hit them all with equal velocity using the balanace scale as a queue, the one that rolls further is the lightest - Steven A. Lowe
(10) Put the balls on the scale one on each side, one at a time. When the scale tips and the numbers are even the last ball added on the heavy side is the big one. Decline the second use of the scale. - CAD bloke
(48) Pretty easy: Pick 6 balls, measure 3 and 3. If they are the same, measure the remaining two and find the lighter one. If not, take the lighter 3, and measure 2 out of them. Either again you found the lighter one, otherwise the lighter one is the only one remaining. - Yuval Adam
(1) I like that question -- the scope is small, and there are a couple answers, so you don't have to get the best one on your first try. The real point, to me, is hearing a candidate's thought process out loud as they iterate on a solution. (4 weighs... 3 weighs... wait, two!) - ojrac
(2) I really feel so many jobs need real aptitude testing than the years of experience in the CV. If you got talent and aptitude you can solve real world problems in a totally different way than what people used to do it for last 20 years. - Jobi Joy
(1) Even more fun is the "12 pool balls, three weighings, and you don't know beforehand if the odd one is lighter or heavier" variation. - Miles
I hate this question. I know the trick now, but was I really supposed to realize that it's tri-state logic, so measure three at a time? It's been a long time since college and that sort of question, looking for that sort of answer. - John Saunders
(23) Answer: Raise scale over head in threatening manner at interviewer. Scream: "TELL ME WHICH BALL IS THE LIGHTER ONE NOW OR I'LL CLOBBER YOU". Problem solved, still not getting the job though. - kenj0418
(21) @kenj0418 Let me guess, you went to business school? - Mike Robinson
(1) Hold them up to the light? - 280Z28
why 8? it should have been 9...3^2>2^3 - Stomp
I never went to business school, pure techy through and through (never got the hang of those management clothes). As why 8 rather than 9, the answere is that if you said 9 at the start it would be an easier puzzle to solve. Theres, effectivly, a little indirection in stating 8 balls. As a postscript, let me note that I got a job in said company in '08, hated it and was out by '09. - Tim Ring
Yuval, your answer sounds good - except that 'measure 3 and 3' and then weigh either the remaining two or the lighter of the two threes... sounds like 'Weigh 3, then weigh 3 more, then weight the remaining two, or the lighter of the three. In other words, that's actually 3 'uses' of the scale right? Weighing each of the two '3s' will take two weighs, right? Or am i missing something? - Michael Durrant
@Michael: what you're missing is that it's a simple balance, not a triple-beam balance like you're used to using. The other thing you might be missing is that companies that ask riddles in interviews are rarely good places to work. - Ian
What's wrong with this question? Years of experience doesn't mean $*#@ if you can't solve a simple programming question. If you are truly as good as you think you are, you would solve this question in a couple seconds and move on. Oh boy you wasted a few seconds of your life, big deal. -__- - Razor Storm
It wasen't the waste of a few seconds I objected to, it was the fact that knowing the answer (or not) does not give any indication of real problem solving abilities. I've solved some doozies in my time (adding multi-million value to some projects I worked on). I never solved a real problem in a few seconds (I've had inspired moments leading to some insight which was fundemental to solving major problems). When I interview I ask about problems applicants have solved in previous jobs and from their explantions/passion/depth of knowledge I can infer (some) of their problem solving capability..... - Tim Ring
.....My eight year old daughter (at the time) solved this puzzle quickly but I dont think she's ready just yet for that senior developer role :-) - Tim Ring
[+14] [2008-08-14 18:44:57] Bill the Lizard

About six months ago I interviewed at an online loan brokerage firm (software engineering department). The question that stumped me was "Why do you want to work in an industry that's obviously in so much trouble?" At the time it seemed like things might rebound, but in retrospect I'm glad I didn't get that job.

[+14] [2008-08-14 18:47:06] Adhip Gupta

My worst question asked ever:

What are the different types of encapsulation?

Nothing about how is encapsulation useful or how will I try to implement it in a particular problem but the theoretical definition and the types of encapsulation.

I believe that that was the end of the interview for me.

Well what are they? - Iain
haha... I never found out! I even tried asking the interviewer but, he just moved on! :) - Adhip Gupta
(9) Im guessing he meant to ask about public, private and protected... but still a very confusing turn of phrase. - metao
(3) Yeah, I wouldn't have known what to do with that one. - Beska
(1) Perhaps it was IsA versus HasA question. Do you subclass or do you wrap the other object? Still, very weird. - jmucchiello
Did he read about encapsulation on JavaToday an hour before? - ZJR
[+13] [2009-04-06 18:32:00] community_owned

I was asked a given some long math equation and asked what is represented. I replied "I have no idea what that represents, I am assuming its something relative to your industry."

I got the job.

(1) Have you since found out what it represents? - jmucchiello
(6) Inquiring minds want to know. - Adam Backstrom
Sometimes having the character to admit that you don't know something impresses. - Velika
(3) Yeah - once had an interview for a 3 month contract at a software house. In the end they offered me a permanent role because I was the only one who didn't try to BS when I didn't know something. - Phil Gan
(7) "It represents man's inhumanity to man" - johnc
[+12] [2008-12-22 00:17:01] user21826

Interviewer leads me to his office... (insert small talk here)... I look around... he has numerous swords hanging on the wall... he says, "Take a seat." I take a seat.

He says, "Are you intimidated?"

I respond, "I'll see myself to the door."

And I left.

(8) NICE... Would of been more fun to grab one, Act like your gonna attack him and say "No, but how about you?" - Matthew Whited
(8) So you're afraid of people who appreciate collecting things? I think the WTF here is your attitude towards his collection. What's wrong with swords? - amischiefr
(19) The collection isn't what's wrong, it's the remark. It's hard enough to get an accurate sense of someone's capabilities without introducing physical intimidation into the equation. The interviewer should be trying to put the subject at ease. Even if you take the perspective that you need to "perform under pressure" unless you're trying to add features to your CMS while a hoard of rampaging huns bears down on you this doesn't seem very relevant. - MKing
(3) With hearing HOW the interview asked the question, I could only guess as to his motivation, but when I read it, I imagined an interviewer making a small-talk joke while bringing attention to a collection that he probably is proud of. - Velika
He might as well have said, "Do you accept me as the alpha male?" - l0b0
[+12] [2009-03-10 10:07:33] Galilyou

I don't have a particular one, but for me, questions that the interviewer can answer by reading my resume shouldn't be asked. For example, a couple of weeks ago I had an interview with an Indian guy, and here's a part of it:

Interviewer: what do you know about a data type called varchar2?

Me: do you mean varchar(2)-pronounced varchar of 2?

Interviewer: No, varchar2

Me: No, never heard of it. He looked at me, handed me my resume saying "Alright, I'm finished, you can take this".

Later when I searched I found out that varchar2 is a data type only for Oracle's P-SQL, and I never mentioned anything about Oracle in my resume.

(11) People like him should be flogged. Or, maybe someone else made the decision to call you in and this poor guy was told you were supposed to be an oracle guy; but then that guy should be flogged. Some companies will completely waste your time like this. - Patrick Karcher
[+12] [2009-04-10 03:52:21] John Saunders

"Write an algorithm that, given an integer, produces the next highest integer with the same number of the same digits".

I immediately gave him the "brute force" answer, but it turns out that for some integers, there is no answer. I was not only expected to know this, I was expected to figure out how to write the algorithm to recognize when there was no answer.

I was told I should apply for a job commensurate with my programming ability.

Strangely, I haven't needed to be up on properties of positional number systems in over 30 years...

Why isn't there an answer for some integers (if it's a math question, not confined to an integer size) ? - Liran Orevi
(4) @Liran: There are cases where there is no "next highest". The given number may already be the highest of all integers that are permutations of the set of digits. 987654321 is an example. 987654312 has 987654321 as next highest. - John Saunders
Haha, I got told once that I should get an internship to improve my skills. The guy was a total prick. - amischiefr
Am I misreading this? Take this example as I understand it: Given an integer, 8, the next highest integer with the same NUMBER of digits, 1, is 9. Example 2. Given integer 9, the next highest integer with the same number of digits, 1, is -their ain't one. We're not talking about reusing the same digits in a different order. It said the same NUMBER Of digits, right? - Velika
Same number of the same digits. - John Saunders
(1) Conceptually, create an array of digits with the zeroth being the least significant one. For every i-th digit (0 to n-1), for every j-th digit more significant than the i-th (i+1 to n-1), if digits[i] is less than digits[j], swap and return the new number. If you exit the main loop without exiting the function, the answer is "no such number". - Eduardo León
@Eduardo: congratulations, you're hired. - John Saunders
@John Unfortunately, that doesn't mean I would be good for the actual job, unless it's some weird math computing thing I would dislike in first place. - Eduardo León
(1) @Eduardo: that was my point about this question - it doesn't reflect anything that actually is useful. - John Saunders
Catching the fact that there is no valid output for some inputs seems very relevant to me. It's what we as developers have do think about all the time given a loose spec (which they often are). - danio
@danio: it's relevant if the domain of knowledge is relevant. Properties of positional number systems isn't relevant at this level. - John Saunders
[+12] [2008-08-21 14:37:30] Gustavo

What football team do you support ?

(5) "Football? That's the one with the funny shaped ball, right?" (USA answer) - James Curran
(22) What handegg team do you support ? - dalle
(1) That is actually a good question. The reason may indicate what kind of qualities you look at when picking a team which can be indirectly applied to people management. Just my humble observation. - Christy John
(8) @Christy, yeah right. - ergosys
[+12] [2009-09-28 17:41:22] Craigerm

"Can you do visual basics?" - Note: The pluralisation is intentional.

(8) "and C-Sharps, too!" - Velika
(13) sounds a lot better than “I do Pythons” - Agos
Don't forget Visual Studios - JC.
(8) After I can download teh codez, I can do any languages you likes. - danio
I think it is more of an accent thing. "Do you want good monies?" is something I have heard. - CMR
[+11] [2008-09-21 22:22:21] JC.

This was for a high end C# position and I was asked what the "new kind of FOR loop" was in C#.

(21) Ahh...the answer to that would be "FOR...a second there I thought you were serious." - Beska
I might have tossed this back to mess with him: "for each his own?" - Neil N
New kind?!!? Eurrgh, even as a C# developer, I hate Microsoft ghetto programming - johnc
[+10] [2008-09-21 22:04:35] community_owned

For an IT job I was asked how many knots I could tie, and which was my favorite, and why.

I may start using that! - RichH
I like it too. You could, of course, just use it to catch people claiming they never tie a knot (shoes.) For me, Lark's Head. One simple "knot," a multitude of uses. - J.T. Hurley
(23) I'd hate to see that company's cable management system. - Kevin
[+10] [2009-03-10 06:54:18] vava

Why have you became a software developer?

How the hell I supposed to answer this one? I bumped my head into the wall when I was a toddler? No, seriously, I don't know.

Well sir, I would say, because it fun to create stuff! :) - Arcturus
(2) Well, in China workers on all sorts of factories create much more stuff per day than I do. And it is real stuff, not imaginary. And it will most likely last longer and be much more useful to it's owner :) - vava
I remember exacty how I became a software developer. :) I was around 12-13 years old when my father brought a computer home one evening. The computer, which was an i8080А based text-mode-only "home computer", came with a brochure containing a few sample programs in Basic. I remember that evening quite well. :) - vit
(1) My wife once asked me about advice on a new career choice. I told her programming had worked for me as a way of making money. That's how she became one. I just liked programming once I got into it. - David Thornley
(2) @David, I really don't like when people using programming just as a way to get money. It is so much more for me and I just feel sorry for them and little bit angry since they pollute the field and some guy with passion might be out because of them. - vava
(1) @vava: Depends on whether they're good at it or not. I know people who got into the field, presumably for money, and had no talent. My wife is good at what she does. - David Thornley
(2) @vava, I like to play the piano now and then, and I have a passion for it, but that doesn't mean people'd shell out to hear me at a concert hall. Or even at the mall. - Kyralessa
I think this is a GREAT question, though it will puzzle many. My answer is simple, I would literally say "though it may sound like I'm just following advice I've read on what to say on recruiter web sites, I became a programmer 'cos it's just so much fun to do it. It's nice that it pays well, but to be honest I do it outside of my job anyway, so I don't really have much of a choice." - Michael Durrant
[+10] [2009-03-10 09:50:17] ya23

Do you have a brother?

Do you love him?

I've just thought how in the world is this question relevant to anything? I was offered the job and declined it of course.

Did you decline the job because you were answered those questions? or there was some other reason? - Deepak Singh Rawat
This was the big company you all know, I was really keen on getting a job there. But, the whole interview process was a strange, there was a lot of weird questions, the way people behaved turned on yellow light. One of the interviewers would be my manager. I totally disliked the person and the culture of work in the company. There were other reasons, but this one was the most important. I'm happy I don't work there. - ya23
I was asked the similar question too.... - The Elite Gentleman
(3) It really sounds like they wanted to be able to take a hostage! - Zan Lynx
[+10] [2009-10-07 10:15:09] squeeks

Not a question, but at an interview I was asked: "Stand up and cluck like a chicken".

(3) +1,:D .. Did you actually did that ? - whacko__Cracko
(4) Well, yeah. Ironically, all the other folk who were hired in that batch spoke about it quite extensively too. They made us sing and tell a joke as well. I quit after the first day as they mislead me about pay and conditions. - squeeks
(19) They made you cluck, sing & tell jokes in your interview, and you believed what they told you about pay & conditions??? - danio
[+8] [2009-04-27 23:19:34] Dima

Once on the interview, after some casual and tech. conversation, the guy asked me how much I can drink in one evening. It seemed to be very important, not to him (he didn't drink) but for the job. It turned out that the job was in Ireland, and the guy managing the local team there failed completely because the team was regularly going to the pubs after work.. that guy didn't survive the project and team members didn't like him.

I turned down that offer.. :)

that's what they call 'Intercultural competence' - yas4891
[+8] [2009-04-27 22:38:22] Terry Donaghe

Someone once asked my wife "How many fingers do you have?" during a phone interview.

At a retail sales job, my manager asked a guy we were interviewing, "When do you quit taking your medication?" The guy looked dumbfounded for a moment, looked down and then answered, "Oh, about 2 weeks ago."

(1) Was the fingers one a trick 'No, 8 and 2 thumbs' attempt? - johnc
[+8] [2009-05-27 11:30:06] Clint Miller

How many ways can you measure a building with a barometer?

My answers were things like
1) use the barometer as a measuring stick,
2) throw the barometer off the building and count how long it takes to hit the ground, and
3) sell the barometer and use the money to buy a measuring stick.

I got a job offer but didn't take it (thankfully, since the company was out of business within a couple of years).

I hate these types of questions because it's hard to see how they do a good job measuring programming skills. I also hate the brain teaser questions and questions like "how much water flows past the St. Louis Arch everyday" or "how much gas is consumed in Texas everyday".

(8) Niels Bohr test =) - Carl Bergquist
[+7] [2009-05-27 12:09:51] Jack Ryan

"Please tell me all the design patterns that you know, and what they are used for"

All of them? Really?

(9) Not really all of them. Just enough so the interviewer gets bored, thinking you could go on for hours, and moves on. - Kyralessa
[+7] [2009-04-27 23:43:38] MissT

Which one between batman and spider-man is the best superhero?

Spend 10-15 minutes discussing the answer. Got the job, still there after 5 years!

So what's the answer?? - Liran Orevi
(1) spiderman ofc! Batman never wins, he just loose with pride. - Carl Bergquist
(1) They both suck, Goku ftw - hasen j
(2) A comic-book nerd can correct me if I'm wrong, but didn't the "What-If" series explore this one? I think the solution was Batman: using his only superpower, money, he creates a robot clone of himself filled with explosives. He sends the robot after Spiderman who, following his Spidey-sense, discovers said robot; moments after realizing the trick, the bot 'splodes Spidey-guts all over the Daily Planet. - Juliet
Batman for sure because he is not loser in his real life too. - Deepak Singh Rawat
(4) Batman, for he manages to be a superhero even when he doesn't have any superpowers. - Eduardo León
Spider-man, because he has awesome superpowers. - Phil Gan
Come on! That was not a "worst" question! It was an awesome question intended to show off the culture of the workplace. In fact, it was on the Web site and one of the requirement for the job was "have a strong opinion about which superhero is the best". - alexk7
What "best" means? Strongest? Superman crossed the universe in 5 seconds... - BrunoLM
Batman, because he is rich. Spiderman is just another science geek. - CMR
[+7] [2008-12-21 23:16:46] zedoo

At a consultancy, I was asked: "Which servers do you know?"

(4) To which you answer "What, like, in a biblical sense or just, you know, drinking buddies?" - Skizz
(26) That girl that works at Chotchkies is the only one. - kenj0418
[+7] [2008-09-17 06:58:42] blowdart

"Show me how you would write a hash table in C#". It has been a while since I've ever had to roll my own so I asked what was wrong with the existing implementation. "It's too slow". So I asked if they were really worried about speed why use C# at all. I turned the job down.

As for "How do you move Mount Fuji" well that's simple, tell it a really heart wrenching story ....

(3) +1 for Mount Fuji - johnc
This is the kind of question you will face interviewing at Google. And I mean it as a compliment: I wouldn't want to hire a guy who has no idea how hashtable works. - Nikita Rybak
[+7] [2010-03-17 16:34:45] uncle brad

Q: What do you think is the most common misconception that other people have about you?
A: Wouldn't the answer possibly be a misconception that I have about other people?

Unfortunately it wasn't a trick question.

[+7] [2009-12-18 13:47:26] Gus

If there was a box on the floor right here [pointing to the ground next to himself] and I told you to pick it up and set it on this desk, what would you do?

I said, "Stand up, walk to the box, bend at the knees and pick up the box and put it on the desk".

It was the last question he asked, and after my answer he immediately said "Thanks, we'll be in touch". No joke, 6 months later I was offered the job. Declined, of course...

6 months later? Which planet is this, where they take six months to evaluate after the interview? - l0b0
[+7] [2009-12-23 17:35:18] Anthony Forloney

I was applying for a stock position (pay was greater than being a cashier) at a major retail company over 5 years ago, I was asked "Can you count past 50?" Of course, I answered Yes. They called me few months after the interview to offer me the job, but I had already found a job by then.

Sad part is, there had to have been someone who worked there at one time who couldn't.

"Are you a foreign?" - Mauricio
(1) "Do you want that in hex or binary?" - l0b0
[+6] [2009-12-23 18:46:48] fastcodejava

What is the worst mistake you have made? How did you manage it (cover it up)?

(2) I'm confused. That last question is two totally different questions. Which one did the interviewer ask? - Kyralessa
(1) @Kyralessa, he probably meant how did he cover up the mistake. - Shawn Mclean
(1) This question cost me a job offer! I absolutely hate it! - Trumpi
[+6] [2010-02-03 09:24:25] ScaryAardvark

I went for an interview with a financial trading system start up in London and spoke to their IT director for around half an hour.

He then asked me if I could be in Stockholm on Monday (it was Wednesday).

I thought to myself, this is one of those trick questions so I said, "Yes".

He replied with "Great!. I'll get my secretary to contact you this evening with flight details. Good to have you on board".

I was gobsmacked.. We hadn't even discussed pay, holidays etc etc but I called in sick where I was working and took the flight to Stockholm.

It was the best career move I've ever made. The company was bought out by a major competitor and I made a shed load of cash..... :)

[+6] [2008-08-14 18:44:06] Adam

What is the syntax to create a database in SQL Server?

(2) Is this supposed to be implying that you should know the syntax in TSQL for creating a DB? (it's CREATE DATABASE myDB at a minimum). The full syntax? - Mitch Wheat
I was once asked the path and name of the executable to use for rebuilding the Master DB. I gave him the path but couldn't give him the exe name because frankly it's not something you use often... He wasn't impressed I didn't know. - Valerion
(4) Of course, a DBA creates alot of databases in a single day... - Luc M
It's a trick question, or the interviewer couldn't think of an harder one? (Or maybe he genuinely ignored the answer?) - ZJR
[+5] [2008-09-21 22:20:00] Iain

It's not even a question, it's a command:

"So, tell me about yourself."

It was just the interviewer basically admitting they haven't prepared anything, and I'm going to be doing all the work.

(15) I disagree. I use that question solely to give candidates a free-form opportunity to sell me on their attributes. 1-2 minutes to put their best foot forward. I use it even when I hand-picked the candidate's resume myself. - JasonTrue
(2) I totally agree with Jason. May be the interviewer could ask it in a bit more polite manner. :) - Vijesh VP
(2) This is normally an ice-breaker question to get you talking at the start of the interview. - hwiechers
I use varients too as it gives me insight into the candidate based on which direction they go with it. I try to keep my first three questions to open questions with a time limit ... "Take one or two minutes to tell me what your looking for in your next position John" - RichH
Not a bad question at all. The only problem I have with it is, didn't I already sum it up in my resume? - hasen j
It's a chance to talk about yourself. Most people like talking about themselves. But then the question is...can you find a way to give the interviewer a chance to talk about himself too? - Kyralessa
And it's vague enough that it doesn't fall into the forbidden question trap. - Phil Gan
@Kyralessa no I don't think most developers like talking about themselves. About a project, or something they did maybe. I think the interviewer should make some effort to break the ice first before using such wide-open questions. - danio
I agree with poster: this may be the good question for a salesperson, but not for a programmer. I don't know how to "sell myself" and not really supposed to. (and wouldn't want to work for a company valuing idle prattle so much as to use it as hiring criterion) - Nikita Rybak
(1) +1 -is this a Blade Runner who is about to retire some replicant? - CMR
It can be either - here's how to tell - if the interviewer has a printout of your resume and appears to be rapidly scanning it (not glancing it) as you start to talk (or at any other point), then they haven't done their homework, haven't prepared for the interview and will just look to catch you out. If the defense is that they see many many candidates and don't have time to prepare?, well think of it this way if a candidate comes in for an interview and the candidate hasn't prepared, researched the company and all that, how do they look? - Michael Durrant
[+5] [2009-05-21 00:33:14] George Jempty

Q: If you could be any animal, what would it be? A: Giraffe (it just popped into my head, but I am just 5 foot 9)

I didn't get the job but this answer did not rule me out and apparently was comparatively normal compared to some they received, e.g. snake.

(2) How is snake less normal than giraffe? what kind of scale are you using? - Matt Ellen
I was the interviewee not the interviewer; they told me they considered giraffe more normal than snake, though I must say I agree - George Jempty
So my question still stands :P - Matt Ellen
(1) I'm not using a scale. I chose giraffe. Snakes have scales. - George Jempty
(4) "Human," which will stears the interview towards inheritance and polymorphism. - Sjoerd
[+5] [2009-09-04 14:25:42] Shin

Do you like to cuss a lot? Because we cuss a lot.

I don't usually cuss, and I can imagine an employer not wanting someone to cuss. But requiring someone to cuss? Seriously?

(3) Maybe he was just checking if you will fit in the cussing culture of the company :) - Deepak Singh Rawat
(1) It's not a bad question, actually. Cussing is contagious. So if you don't want to find yourself cussing all day, it's probably not a good idea to take a job where everyone else cusses all day. Kudos to them for recognizing that some people won't be comfortable in such an environment. - Kyralessa
#$%^, yeah! (Strange..I thought that there was a 15 char min requirement on all comments. Guess not anymore) - Velika
Maybe he was asking you whether you coded in Perl? /^1?$|^(11+?)\1+$/ can be interpreted as cussing. - Noufal Ibrahim
Usually you can sue the company for this - workplace harassment - CMR
(1) I swear like a longshoreman when I code - jim
[+5] [2009-10-21 15:02:56] max

The worst question I had:

Interviewer: Do you have a PC in your house?

Me: ?!!@$$??

(8) Are you a Mac fan? - Deepak Singh Rawat
I certainly am! :) - max
[+4] [2009-10-01 11:34:44] Jonathan Fingland

I was being interviewed for a startup doing web development and there were two interviewers, though one of them looked distracted most of the time.

Interviewer: So, tell us a little about yourself.

Me: (about 3 minutes of brief intro).

awkward silence

Me: (another minute)

awkward silence

Interviewer: Could you tell us a little more?

Me: (thinking wtf... Is there a right answer that I'm supposed to arrive at?)

Later on in the interview I had the opportunity to ask some questions.

Me: So what kind of site are you planning on building?

Interviewer: Well, we will be building sites for clients.

Me: Oh? So what kind of companies are you expecting to work with?

Interviewer: Various...

Me: uh..... well are you thinking of large companies or small companies?

Interviewer: Various...

Me: Well, how many developers are you planning on hiring:

Interviewer: Around 5.

In the end I left thinking it would be a horrible job and stayed where I was. I was also pretty sure they weren't going to offer me the job but a few months later they called me out of the blue to offer the position. I declined. They called again the next day. I declined again.

I just couldn't see myself working in a place that had virtually no business plan beyond dispatching developers to other companies willy-nilly.

[+4] [2010-07-08 14:36:54] Sarfraz

Just saw this thread and wanted to share my experience with an interviewee.

I asked someone:

"what is the difference between abstract class and an interface?"

He replied:

"Those questions are not a big deal, google is life saver now for everyone, I can do whatever you ask with the help of google !"

(He was not selected of course)

Yeah, Googling everything instead of memorizing is another hot debate topic. Time to search for it! :) - kirk.burleson
[+4] [2010-01-15 15:15:59] Terry Donaghe

How do you feel about working 12 hour days 6 days a week? We're only looking for hard workers.

What was your answer and were you offered/did you take the job? - Velika
This same place (a pretty small software shop) required folks who were interviewing to take a psych eval test. I refused. I got really weird vibes from the company. shrug - Terry Donaghe
They sound like a terrible company to work for. - Phil Gan
(6) Your answer: "How do you feel about paying 1.8x what companies who only expect me to work 40hr weeks pay?" - danio
[+4] [2010-01-23 06:37:51] Pascal Thivent

What is the agile method?

(7) void Agile() {} - Trumpi
[+4] [2008-12-22 00:55:10] Seamus

After being given the company overview and their custom PHP based CMS, the head programmer asked me, "How do you feel about PHP functions?"

It seemed like a silly question at the time. I answered by talking about procedural vs. OO paradigms, passing by reference and values, and the pro's and con's of PHP style function overloading.

It made sense when later I found out the position was to convert PSD mockups into HTML and then place the template PHP calls in. They just wanted to know if I could call a PHP function. Needless to say, I did not take that job.

[+3] [2008-09-17 06:53:06] TonyOssa

What is my favorite TV show?


(4) Actually, that is a very good question... It tells the interviewer somehthing about the person being interviewed... There are a lot of psychology models at play here ;) - Arcturus
What if you say "no"? - Chris Ballance
well, what is your favorite show? - community_owned
(1) This question is asked on interviews for Medicine, and more often than not if you name a show about Hospitals or Doctors you're immediately declined a place. It's a shame really, cause Scrubs is such an amazing show. - Mike B
Father Ted. Oh well that's me screwed becoming a priest. Feck! - WeNeedAnswers
[+3] [2008-10-30 04:13:51] Cameron MacFarland

Them: What would you say your fellow employees would say about you if asked?
Me: I don't know. Why don't you ask them?
Them: We're asking you.
Me: o_0

(3) Don't knock this one. I have asked it a few times as the interviewer and it is amazing how good it is at getting people to reveal very relevant information. Some examples: "They'd probably say my code is hard to maintain, but that's just because they are all a bunch of N00Bs who don't know anything." "They don't like me very much over there, but it isn't my fault that I took down the network with my code, they didn't train me right!" - JohnFx
(2) He used to be the host of the Newlywed Game. He was going to write down your answer and you would sit beside you co-workers and reveal them after he asked them what they thought. - John Munsch
(2) It's just another lazy question from the lazy 3 strengths / 3 weaknesses types. So you answer it with one of your stock lazy answers: "I'm diligent/hard working/reliable/friendly/technically solid/a quick learner/a freaking genius/creative/a fantastic mentor, leader/..." (pick several) - danio
[+3] [2008-08-14 18:49:10] Kev

It's the question they ask where you find out you've just been set up by the agency in a 'bait-and-switch' scam.

[+3] [2010-02-28 18:32:27] Alex

Going for a Web Dev position I was asked 1 technical question: "What languages do you do?"

I answered: "PHP, JavaScript, XHTML, CSS"

No other technical questions followed...I got the job.

(1) How was the job? - kirk.burleson
(1) Filled with the joys of .NET 2.0, crumbling servers and department in-fighting... - Alex
[+3] [2010-08-06 08:02:52] Adam

I could tell the interviewer was really keen to hire someone highly productive when he asked me: "can you type quickly?"

[+2] [2009-10-07 10:24:21] orezavi

How many brothers and sisters do you have?

Why don't you leave this position for someone more backward/deserving/needy?

[+2] [2008-08-14 18:47:11] Kristopher Johnson

"How would you determine how many gas stations a town needs?"

This was from a manager who asked several "creative-thinking-outside-the-box" puzzle questions during the interview. Once I heard this question, I knew I didn't want to work for him.

(21) I would invent something called "the free market". When there aren't enough, more will open. When there are too many, some will close. Tada. - Jon B
I'd post the question on Stackoverflow and see if any Microsoft employees knew the answer needed in order to get the job. - Martin
Yeah, that's just stupid. - BobbyShaftoe
(4) What's wrong with that? It's a modeling and problem solving question. - TraumaPony
No, it is just a pointless brain-teaser question.… - Kristopher Johnson
(5) Got to's not pointless or a brain's a problem where they're trying to see how you approach a situation that isn't directly within your line of experience. They don't care that you get the "right" answer...they want to see how you approach solving it. - Beska
@Beska, sounds very logical to me. - Galilyou
(3) This is a great question to see if someone understands how to use Fermi estimations, which are incredibly useful when figuring out schedules for engineers, among many things. See the Wikipedia page on "Fermi problem." - Not Sure
(1) I am a strong supporter of this kind of 'out of the box' or 'out of expertise' question. Which is the only way we can measure how smart one is. Because you can always by heart 'What is polymorphism in C++'? even though he might never done it in the real world. - Jobi Joy
(1) I work with a good bunch of guys. One of their interview questions was, "how many fast food burger joints are there in the US?" - Adam Backstrom
Im pretty sure for this you would form a matrix tracking traffic on major roads, then using the Linear Alegbra you learned in college to minimize the matrix finding the key areas where gaz stations are needed. - Recursion
Nobody should bother with factual "what-is" questions like "what-is-polymorphism". That's a white-belt question, if you catch my drift. - Ian
[+2] [2008-09-22 22:13:10] ilitirit

Two questions I've been asked:

How many piano tuners are there in Cape Town?

How many one hundred rand notes are there at 12pm in a shopping mall?

I got the questions "right" (meaning they agreed with my rationale), but I thought those were terrible questions simply because of the number of variables that could affect the answer. Clearly they didn't give the question much thought themselves, because they kept telling me to ignore certain things when I asked about them. They should state all assumptions up front, rather than let the interviewee waste time travelling dead ends to an almost exponential number of answers.

With those kinds of things they just want to see how you go about answering the question - Ankur
So, what were your answers along with the rationale? Seems like "insufficient info" to me! - Velika
(1) I discovered later that this is a classic estimation problem: - ilitirit
[+2] [2008-09-21 22:44:01] shoosh

"Pulp Fiction or Reservoir Dogs?"

Pulp Fiction... all the way... - TGnat
No hire - Reservoir Dogs FTW! - Valerion
Hey, come on, the provided humor into an interview. An interview of mine, my comment; "Dont use TSQL-JDBC-driver version lower or equal to 1.0.4"-"Why not?". And Btw, simple answer:Dogs:) BTW. the correct answer was "The JDBC-driver in versions lower than 1.0.4 has a memory leak" - I got the job ;-) - Georgi
(22) I would simply answer "yes" - Chris Ballance
(4) I like this question. They're deciding if you're a good personality fit for the team in a casual way. You don't necessarily have to like either one, but they're just looking for how you react. - Beska
Both movies were terrible! - amischiefr
I once interviewed at a place where the project manager had a bunch of South Park and Family Guy figurines, and one of the questions was to name them all. The best I could do was say that the ones on the left were from South Park, but I'd never seen either show (and still haven't). Curiously, I got the job. - Kyralessa
[+2] [2009-04-10 03:29:56] Rev316

Getting asked a specific nitty-gritty question off the top of your head. Like some nuance in a language that the interviewer is proficient at...

The bad part is, I've listened to top-tier corporations think this is what makes a good programmer. :/

This is at least one way to test if they lied on the resume. An "expert" C programmer who doesn't know strncpy doesn't null-terminate? No hire. - Zan Lynx
[+2] [2009-06-26 19:38:58] Jonathan

Some years ago, in one of my firsts job interviews.

"What do you need to make your job?"

I was a little confused, so I said "I write code, so I can work with an old tv and a spectrum"

then she clarify the question: "I mean, what things of your workplace make you feel confortable and make you a productive worker?"

then i said "eeehhh of course... eeeeh A window and a cactus..."

and I was working there for more than a year.

[+2] [2009-05-07 06:52:34] John Fischer

"If your life philosophy were a bumper sticker, what would it say?"

(7) null reference exception - Matthew Whited
(3) Invalid Argument - Boo
(2) Don't steal, The Government hates competition - Sukasa
StackOverFlow... - Amby
(3) I am an unhandled exception! - Arcturus
“This is a bumper sticker” - Agos
floella benjamin - WeNeedAnswers
(2) "Oh no, not again" next to a bowl of petunias. - Robert Groves
Unknown identifier... - THEn
[+2] [2009-04-27 22:19:08] sal

I was once asked if I had any food allergies.

(1) This makes sense to me, as this question can have an impact on your physical health while working for them if you were hired. - Sukasa
[+1] [2009-02-24 16:32:43] Christian Witts

Not a question, but when interviewers constantly Umm before asking questions. Makes me feel like they didn't even have the decency to prepare properly for the interview.

This happened to me recently. The interviewer kept tapping the desk and umm-ing and ahh-ing.. Then checked their phone a couple of times and continued tapping... Then asked me a question the other interviewer had already asked.... They offered me the job and I took it... The pay was great :) - ScaryAardvark
[+1] [2008-09-21 21:09:21] AviD

After running out of relevant questions within minutes, my (male) boss asked a (female) interviewee, "So, you're married? how many kids? what grades are they in?" and that continued for quite a few minutes...
I had to step in and ask more relevant questions, even though I'd already made up my mind (it was a no, but ABSOLUTELY nothing to do with his questions.... she was decent, but not quite brilliant.)

Lucky for me I was already on my way out... Getting to interview your replacement can actually be an interesting experience :D

(2) In the U.S., this is considered an illegal question (marital status). - Robert C. Barth
Yeah, I know... Not exactly illegal here, but still quite unpleasant and absolutely improper... Hence the "worst" interview questions.... - AviD
[+1] [2008-08-21 15:20:44] geocoin

LOL @ Quarrelsome [1]
I must admit, I've been to several now where I've been asked fundamental questions and had a similar response. my favourite though was being asked in one interview what freebie defaults you get with a C++ compiler (i.e. don't have to be explicitly declared) and I couldn't answer fully (I got default constructor and destructor). and i didn't get the job (mainly due to thier 5 page long list of programming trivia Q's and I was too expensive - my friend got the job and said it was the worst place he's ever been....
Anyway, the next day I had another interview at another place, and got the same Question.... only this time i knew the answer....

along with getting a better design focused interview and a better rapport, I got the job, which I left after 9 months due to bad design practices overall! (they had none - cigarette pack specs would have been a dream...)


[+1] [2010-07-27 04:02:50] C Johnson

How do you test a salt shaker?

I answered the question for about 5 minutes. But the interviewer pressed me to continue. I had to come up with creative ideas for the next 10 minutes. It was about 15 minutes that felt like hours and hours.

You should have threw the damn thing at them and walked out. :) - kirk.burleson
I attended a week long training class with a very famous software tester guru (on testing). He asked a similar question about how to test a rubber ball. Only he made my friend answer it for a half hour. It was a half hour felt like 5 hours as we watched. It positively ruined the entire week long training. - C Johnson
[+1] [2010-08-06 08:25:19] jethro

It isn't actually from my work history but its hilarious anyway. From Trainspotting by Danny Boyle based on Irvine Welsh novel:


Mr. Murphy, {leaving your friend aside,} do you see yourself as having any weaknesses?


No. Well, yes. I have to admit it: I'm a perfectionist. For me, it's the best or nothing at all. If things go badly, I can't be bothered, but I have a good feeling about this interview. Seems to me like it's gone pretty well. We've touched on a lot of subjects, a lot of things to think about, for all of us.


Thank you, Mr. Murphy. We'll let you know.


The pleasure was mine. Best interview I've ever been to. Thanks. Spud crosses the room to shake everyone by the hand and kiss them.

You can find full scene on youtube [1]


[0] [2010-01-01 06:02:24] Binil Thomas

I was asked this question while interviewing for a programming job at the Indian office of a company which shares its name with a famous public-key cryptography algorithm:

Q: "Say you don't like garbage collection in Java, what would you do?"

I still don't know the answer. The answers I tried unsuccessfully include:

  • Use another JVM
  • Use another language with manual memory management
  • Declare a large array and manage your own memory

(3) "Pick a different programming language?" - Kyralessa
(2) The answer is, of course, write your own inside the JVM using sun.something.unsafe! - RCIX
@RCIX Did you mean sun.misc.Unsafe? Anyway, thanks .. I was not aware of the existence of such an API for Sun JVMs! - Binil Thomas
(3) "Still use it, as it is part of the language. My preferences do not matter." - Sjoerd
[0] [2009-06-26 19:21:18] Carlo

This is not really a question, it was more of a requirement. I was looking for a job a few months ago and I stumbled at this:

We need a programmer with blah blah (regular requirements) and a great sense of style.

What did they mean? Not sure, but they sure made it sound like a good fashion style or something like that. Of course, I didn't call them =P

Maybe they were really looking for a good sense of humor. Then again, maybe I'm being overly optimistic. - Michael Myers
hahaha but they did say "Sense of style" - Carlo
Well as stupid as it might sound, you can often tell a lot about a programmer by the style of their code (and its lack of ambiguity :-) ). - ternaryOperator
[0] [2009-05-27 11:40:35] clamp

I was given one line of very condensed C++ code and the question was, does this compile?

IMO, it alwasys depends on the compiler, if something compiles or not.

why the downvote? - clamp
(4) Its a good question. If someone answered like you did, it take him/her for a wizeass :\ - Carl Bergquist
(4) "My code is always right! It MUST be the compilers fault!" - Rob
[-1] [2009-05-27 11:45:54] community_owned

went for an interview with a large services company - and when I was there I explained that I had dyslexia.

The question was - "How do you think that will affect the revenue of my team?"

I replied = with the not at all and then asked never to be called again.

(1) What caused you to bring up the dyslexia in the first place!? - Kyralessa