Glassdoor on Friday released its list of the top 25 oddball interview questions, which were compiled by its data science team based on tags and community feedback. While the list is tech-heavy, it's not just Silicon Valley that's fond of brainteasers. Other companies have been known to throw such curveballs, including Bed Bath & Beyond ("If you were a box of cereal, what would you be and why?"), Urban Outfitters ("You're a new addition to the crayon box, what color would you be and why?"), Applebee's ("What is the funniest thing that has happened to you recently?"), and Norwegian Cruise Line ("Do you believe in Bigfoot?").
"It's to test a job candidate's critical thinking skills, see how they think through a problem out loud, solve through a problem and come up with the best solution, not always the right solution, but the best solution," Scott Dobroski, Glassdoor's community expert, told Fast Company.
Though Google is today one of the largest companies in the valley, its quirky beginnings have helped set a standard among tech companies with fancy catered lunches, lush company perks, and of course notoriously unpredictable interview questions.
Last summer, the search giant finally admitted that these brainteasers don't do a good job of predicting success, with senior vice president of people operations Laszlo Bock calling them "a complete waste of time" designed to make the interviewer feel smart. Even so, many companies have taken to the idea of asking similarly odd questions in interviews.
One of Dobroski's favorite questions comes from the American Heart Association, which has asked potential project managers: "What's the color of money?" Replying green might nab an interviewee a five or six on a scale of 10, he said, but the answer can be much more nuanced. For example, if there's news that a company is planning to expand to India, the candidate could use the question as an opportunity to highlight this information and talk about the rupee. "When you're asked a tough question like this, you can ask the employer questions and drill it down to come at the best conclusion," he said. "The worst thing is a one-word response." (So avoid "green.")
Glassdoor's full list is below:
- "If you could throw a parade of any caliber through the Zappos office, what type of parade would it be?" —The Zappos Family, Customer Loyalty Team Member interview.
- "How lucky are you and why?" —Airbnb, Content Manager interview.
- "If you were a pizza delivery man, how would you benefit from scissors?" —Apple, Specialist interview.
- "If you could sing one song on American Idol, what would it be?" —Red Frog Events, Event Coordinator interview.
- "Are you more of a hunter or a gatherer?" —Dell, Account Manager interview.
- "If you were on an island and could only bring three things, what would you bring?" —Yahoo, Search Quality Analyst interview.
- "If you were a box of cereal, what would you be and why?" —Bed Bath & Beyond, Sales Associate interview.
- "Do you believe in Bigfoot?" —Norwegian Cruise Line, Casino Marketing Coordinator interview.
- "Why is a tennis ball fuzzy?" —Xerox, Client Manager interview.
- "What is your least favorite thing about humanity?" —ZocDoc, Operations Associate interview.
- "How would you use Yelp to find the number of businesses in the U.S.?" —Factual, Software Engineer interview.
- "How honest are you?" —Allied Telesis, Executive Assistant interview.
- "How many square feet of pizza are eaten in the U.S. each year?" —Goldman Sachs, Programmer Analyst interview.
- "Can you instruct someone how to make an origami ‘cootie catcher’ with just words?" —LivingSocial, Consumer Advocate interview.
- "If you were 80 years old, what would you tell your children?" —McKinsey & Company, Associate interview.
- "You're a new addition to the crayon box, what color would you be and why?" —Urban Outfitters Sales Associate interview.
- "How does the Internet work?" —Akamai, Director interview.
- "If there was a movie produced about your life, who would play you and why?" —SinglePlatform, Inside Sales Consultant interview.
- "What's the color of money?" —American Heart Association, Project Manager interview.
- "What was the last gift you gave someone?" —Gallup, Data Analyst interview.
- "What is the funniest thing that has happened to you recently?" -Applebee’s, Bartender/Neighborhood Expert Server interview.
- "How many snow shovels sold in the U.S. last year?" —TASER, Leadership Development Program interview.
- "It’s Thursday; we’re staffing you on a telecommunications project in Calgary, Canada on Monday. Your flight and hotel are booked; your visa is ready. What are the top five things you do before you leave?" —ThoughtWorks, Junior Consultant interview.
- "Describe to me the process and benefits of wearing a seat belt." —Active Network, Client Applications Specialist interview.
- "Have you ever been on a boat?" —Applied Systems, Graphic Designer interview.