Difficult job interview questions

Discussion in 'Off-Topic Chat' started by hicks, Feb 1, 2008.

  1. hicks

    hicks Member

    What's the most tricky job interview question you've been asked?
    Aside from the classic (and I think pointless) "what are your weaknesses", have you ever been asked a question which completely stumped you at the time?
  2. MoominDave

    MoominDave Well-Known Member

    If you cut off two opposite corner squares of a chess board, could you tile it with dominoes?

    [Assume half a domino is the same size as a square]

    Was in a Cambridge University interview for an undergraduate Maths place - but pretty much anyone could answer it, as the basic concept is simple... Took me a little while to spot the trick at the time, though...
    Last edited: Feb 1, 2008
  3. Scooby snack!

    I once answered that very question with a confession of enjoying Marmite and pickled onion sandwiches.....:oops:

    I was nearly "undone" though when the interview panel asked if I was feeling comfortable. I was wearing my one and only suit, which in the intervening years since being bought seemed to have shrunk beyond belief. I had been wearing it for the previous 3 hours on the train journey. I had got to the interview location, practiced my powerpoint presentation in the local public toilets cubicle, and just lost the button from the top of my trousers as I stood up. I have to admit that I wasn't as relaxed as I might have been.
    Like the true professional..... I lied, "yes- I'm fine" - I replied in a sqeaky little voice - and got the job! :clap:
  4. johnmartin

    johnmartin Active Member

    I was once asked in an interview for a company who built missile guidance systems if I would be bothered by the fact that my work may one day be used to kill people.

    I matter of factly said "not a problem". Got that job too. :)
  5. tpcornet12

    tpcornet12 Member

    At a recruitment day a few years ago... all the candidates filed into a room expecting a briefing on the day etc. There was a panel of senior managers and about 30 candidates. One manager stood up and said..
    "I won't give you an order but each one of you will speak, I'd like you to describe your management style by way of a car part, go!" Once the steering wheel and accelerator has gone it gets quite tricky! Needless to say there were a few sweaty brows in the room!
  6. David Mann

    David Mann Member

    An ex-colleague of mine was working at a food factory (that will remain nameless) and went for a job at a rubber factory. When she was asked whether she'd be able to cope with the dirt and the smells she replied "actually it's a bit cleaner here" - she got the job!

    The worst interview I've had recently was last year. First interview (with the boss) went well and at the second I met a potential colleague who proceeded to disagree with everything I said. He came out with gems like

    "You can't sell"
    "You got that answer out of a book"
    "You couldn't run a meeting"

    I was really glad I didn't get that one..
  7. WoodenFlugel

    WoodenFlugel Moderator Staff Member

    In a similar vein I had a mammoth interview once which, after lasting several hours ended with a tour of the shopfloor and a demo of some of the machines in build. The last machine I saw was a line of three pyramid tea-bag machines chucking out 1600 bags a minute each, collating them and filling them into a giant catering bag. I'd never seen such an amazing piece of kit. During the demo my interviewer turned to me and asked:

    "So, this is the sort of stuff we do here - do you reckon you'd be able to design and engineer machines like this one?"

    I tried to shift my expression from awe-struck terror to nonchalant confidence and replied (lied):

    "Well, yeah its the sort of stuff I do already so I don't see why not..."

    He must've bought it as I'm still working there now!

    Again for first round of interviews for my current job I was asked would I mind working on tobacco machinery (our parent company makes cigarette machines). I just said "well if people want to smoke I'm not gonna stop them".

    The worst though was my first ever interview for a job at Rank Taylor Hobson. I was asked "do you know Ohm's law?". Admittedly a slightly left-field question for a mechanical engineering job, but basic physics all the same. I sat there sweating in my new suit and my mind went totally blank. My answer was something like

    "Ohm's law? Well yes of course its errrr..... electrical..... erm..... er resistance.... um.... and.... errrrr...."

    That was one job that passed me by for some reason!
  8. tpcornet12

    tpcornet12 Member

    Well i have just got through to the final stage of a job application... It started with a rather lengthy application form... got passed that, then 3 online case studies.... got passed that, then a numerical reasoning test... got passed that. Now I have to go to an assessment centre that starts at 08:30 and finishes at 17:30, I will have to do a group activity, 2 written assessments, a mechanical reasoning test, a competency based interview and another numerical test to make sure I didn't cheat on-line!!
  9. johnmartin

    johnmartin Active Member

    Glad I passed my driving test back in the 80's... :)
  10. spoon

    spoon Member

    well i think i am rather lucky....even though i am only 17 i have never had a job interview in my life....the job i have now part time i just got told not to be late and to be kind to the customers etc....common sense stuff really!

    from some of them that i have read i am pretty glad i am a dancer!! ha ha dont really have to speak in auditions :clap: :p

  11. needmorevodka

    needmorevodka Member

    I once had an interview for a college place that was conducted in two parts, one all in French and the other all in German. This in itself was bad enough as my language skills leave a lot to be desired. But somehow I got through all that and was provisionally offered the place.

    However, on the way out of the door, the interviewer (the course tutor) went and ruined everything by asking "Now then, are you going to be a better student than your sister was?"!! Naturally I lied and said "oh yes, certainly". For some strange reason I got a bad sensation of doom about what the next few years would bring so I turned down the place the following day :rolleyes:
  12. andyh

    andyh Supporting Member

    I sure hope you don't get your "past" and "passed" muxed-ip on the written assessments ;-)

    Good luck!
  13. hicks

    hicks Member

    I once got asked at an interview "If one of your colleagues had a bad personal hygiene problem, what would you do?"
  14. tpcornet12

    tpcornet12 Member

    With today's fascination in competency based interviewing and not asking hypothetical questions it would probably be worded; "tell me about a time you told a colleague they smelt!" :D
  15. DMBabe

    DMBabe Supporting Member

    My favourite is the old chestnut "where do you see yourself in 5 years?".

    Was being interviewed for an internal vacancy that i'd already been doing for 6 months, by a panel of people I'd worked with for years. Bearing in mind I'd been doing short-term posts for 4 years, by the time I got to this interview it was getting a bit tired being asked the same questions every few months. So on this occasion I decided to answer with "all things being well, living on a desert island with Brad Pitt with an endless supply of chocolate!". Got the job and was complimented by my manager for "great interview skills". Not sure it'd work everywhere though.......:oops:
  16. PeterBale

    PeterBale Moderator Staff Member

    When we were working with Group 4 a few years ago, much of their publicity was focused on an ocean-going yacht which was competing in one of the round-the-world races. We were all more than a little fed up of hearing about this boat, so when one of the Customer Service Managers was asked what he would do if he had limitless funds to spend, his response was that he would buy a submarine and sink that ... yacht :eek:

    Needless to say, he was not the most popular person with the bosses for a while ;)