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They Asked What? 7 Job Interview Questions from Hell

One of the unsung benefits of working for a small company is that you don't have to field the kind of questions that showed up on this year's list of the top oddball job interview questions asked by large corporations.

Glassdoor.com, a career and jobs community, curates its list from tens of thousands of interview questions shared by job candidates during the past year. And though the accounts of these incidents cannot be verified, BusinessNewsDaily thought it would be fun to share, anyway. We’ve further winnowed their list to come up with seven candidates for a place in corporate job interview hell.  It might just remind you why you became an entrepreneur in the first place.

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Blender Bender

Goldman Sachs, the financial house that journalist Matt Taibbi, Rolling Stone Magazine’s agent provocateur, called a “great vampire squid,” asked this of a candidate for an analyst position: “If you were shrunk to the size of a pencil and put in a blender, how would you get out?”

Weird Science

The ability to count is an important competency in the financial services arena. A candidate for an operations analyst position with financial giant Capital One was asked to field this question: “Rate yourself on a scale of 1 to 10 how weird you are.”

Tipping Point

This kind of question may give you some insight into your Facebook friend recommendations. When looking to fill a software engineer position, Facebook asked one job hopeful: “Given the numbers 1 to 1,000, what is the minimum number of guesses needed to find a specific number if you are given the hint ‘higher’ or ‘lower’ for each guess you make?”

Let Me Count the Ways

When your company name is Amazon, you already know who the winner is. Just for safe measure, the Seattle online retail giant asked a candidate for a manager position: “If you had 5,263 participants in a tournament, how many games would need to be played to determine the winner?”

Low-Hanging Fruit

Apple lived up to its reputation for reflecting Steve Jobs ’ gnomic ways when it tossed this problem into the hands of an applicant for a software QA engineer spot: “There are three boxes, one containing only apples, one contains only oranges, and one contains both apples and oranges. The boxes have been incorrectly labeled such that no label identifies the actual contents of the box it labels. Opening just one box, and without looking in the box, you take out one piece of fruit. By looking at the fruit, how can you immediately label all of the boxes correctly?”

Reality Principle

When looking to find a qualified person to fill a sales agent position, insurance giant New York Life posed this stumper: “Why do you think only a small percentage of the population makes over $150K?”


Interestingly enough, field research was not listed as a job function for a research analyst berth the pollsters at The Nielsen Co. were hoping to fill. That would seem like one simple way to answer the job interview question they asked: “How many bottles of beer are drank in the city over the week?”

Reach BusinessNewsDaily senior writer Ned Smith at nsmith@techmedianetwork.com. Follow him on Twitter @nedbsmith.

Ned Smith
Ned Smith

Ned was senior writer at Sweeney Vesty, an international consulting firm, and was Vice President of communications for iQuest Analytics. Before that, he has been a web editor and managed the Internet and intranet sites for Citizens Communications. He began his journalism career as a police reporter with the Roanoke (Va.) Times, and was managing editor of American Way magazine and senior editor of Us. He was a Captain in the U.S. Air Force and has a masters in journalism from the University of Arizona.