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Tough questions!

toughest companies jobs

While the average job seeker faces a 16-day interview process, according to Glassdoor, candidates for most companies on the list reported interviews that spanned weeks or even months.

How would you build an engine from scratch? Can you estimate the revenue from 2012 Olympic ticket sales? How many people are watching YouTube in a given hour?

These are just a few of the tough questions job seekers were asked by interviewers in the past year, according to a report released Friday by Using rankings and reviews of interviews posted by thousands of users over the past 12 months, the career website listed the 25 companies that put job candidates through the most rigorous hiring process.

Quick! How much revenue did the 2012 Olympics rake in from ticket sales? Such "market sizing" questions are aimed at gauging a candidate's comfort with numbers and their analytic process, said consulting firm Bain.

"Whether it's X number or Y number, it's less important to me than how you went about answering that question," said Keith Bevans, head of Bain's consultant recruiting team.

How about: How many people watched YouTube in the last hour? While the question was reportedly asked of a prospective Google search analyst in Singapore, a company spokesperson said it has moved away from brainteasers and instead prefers questions aimed at measuring cognitive ability, leadership, job-specific skills and the candidates overall "Googley-ness."

Some company's questions are more personal, such as "What do you do when there is no answer?" (Microsoft) and "What kind of people do you dislike the most?" (Stryker, a medical equipment company). "While we are trying to assess their technical skills, we are aware that candidates are also 'interviewing us' as a potential employer," Nicole Dresser, a staffing consultant for Microsoft's Silicon Valley office, said in a statement.

Some questions are just plain unusual, such as software firm ThoughtWorks' request for a prospective software engineer to "tell us a story [in] which the title is Green Hat."

Despite the rigor, many job seekers didn't leave feeling discouraged. In fact, the majority of candidates for nearly all of the companies on the list reported a "positive" interview process.

"Just because it is a tough interview, that doesn't mean it's a bad interview," said Scott Dobroski, a Glassdoor spokesman.

I am sooooo glad I'm not looking for work in the current market. The oddest question I ever got was, "Have you had an idea lately?" I remember saying, "Sure. Who hasn't?" And the interviewer told me, "You'd be surprised at how many people say no."

So what's the oddest or most difficult interview question you've ever been asked?


Asked by Ballad at 2:55 AM on Aug. 10, 2013 in Money & Work

Level 45 (193,996 Credits)
This question is closed.
Answers (3)
  • I was asked "If you were an animal on a carousel, what would you be and why?"

    Apparently I made up a good answer. I was offered the job.

    Answer by ChasingBridges at 7:44 AM on Aug. 10, 2013

  • nothing that odd- thankfully!

    *but then when you are looking for cleaning or cashier work...or telemerketing -where you stick to a written script I don't imagine the questions would be *too* out there for those

    Answer by charlotsomtimes at 9:50 AM on Aug. 10, 2013

  • It's been 15 years since I had to interview for a job, so I don't remember any questions I was asked.

    Answer by musicmaker at 12:44 PM on Aug. 10, 2013