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When sitting down for a job interview at a top US tech company, you'd typically expect the interviewer to hammer you with questions testing your abilities, past history and knowledge of the company.
You wouldn't think it was the time or the place to start exploring solutions to world hunger, but that's exactly what happened to one candidate looking to be a software developer at Amazon.
In Glassdoor's annual review of the top 25 oddball questions asked in job interviews in 2011, tech companies feature highly. Although there's just one question from Google on the list, the Wall Street Journal recently profiled the search giant's interview process, highlighting the trademark strangeness of some of the questions.
Google's odd questions range from relatively straightforward mathematical brain teasers like "Using only a four-minute hourglass and a seven-minute hourglass, measure exactly nine minutes–without the process taking longer than nine minutes," to truly head-slapping queries such as "A man pushed his car to a hotel and lost his fortune. What happened?"
Google isn't alone in this practice. Apple, Microsoft, Facebook and many others have challenged the brains of prospective job candidates in some truly odd ways for a long time. Glassdoor has been publishing a compilation for only since 2009, but the idea has been around a lot longer than that.
The "oddball question," of course, is meant to challenge the job candidate to think on his or her feet. It forces the interviewee to reach beyond prepared remarks and start engaging in problem solving on the spot. The best "weird" questions still have some relation to the kind of work the position entails. (For example, questions about finding the correct sequence could relate to jobs involving organisational systems.)
What's the weirdest interview question you've ever gotten? Let us know in the comments, and browse the strangest interview questions from tech companies on Glassdoor's list below.
"How many people are using Facebook in San Francisco at 2:30 pm on a Friday?" — Asked at Google, vendor relations manager candidate
"If Germans were the tallest people in the world, how would you prove it?" — Asked at Hewlett-Packard, product marketing manager candidate
"Given 20 'destructible' light bulbs (which break at a certain height), and a building with 100 floors, how do you determine the height that the light bulbs break?" — Asked at Qualcomm, engineering candidate
"How would you cure world hunger?" — Asked at Amazon.com, software developer candidate
"You're in a row boat, which is in a large tank filled with water. You have an anchor on board, which you throw overboard (the chain is long enough so the anchor rests completely on the bottom of the tank). Does the water level in the tank rise or fall?" — Asked at Tesla Motors, mechanical engineer candidate
"Please spell 'diverticulitis'." — Asked at EMSI Engineering, account manager candidate
"You have a bouquet of flowers. All but two are roses, all but two are daisies, and all but two are tulips. How many flowers do you have?" — Asked at Epic Systems, corporation project manager/implementation consultant candidate
"How do you feel about those jokers at Congress?" — Asked at Consolidated Electrical, management trainee candidate
"If you were a Microsoft Office program, which one would you be?" — Asked at Summit Racing Equipment, e-commerce candidate
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