• Jib Jab (unregistered) in reply to mxsscott
mxsscott:
I hav interview next week. I try Boeing problem to solve. I know sizeof(747) but not weight. Plz send your codes.
[code] bool finished=false; while(!finished) { //wait.... }
• smartone (unregistered) in reply to Spanky
Spanky:
The last several interviews I've given, I've given the candidate my laptop and some mocked-up data and asked them to write some simple programs in the language of their choice. This has done a good job of weeding out the ppl who can write code from the ppl who can talk about it. And you get to see if they can solve problems, think of corner cases before they encounter them, and handle the small things that most of us do day-to-day...
What if they ask for the IBM APL keyboard because that's the language they think it could be most easily be done in? (or if they write it in whitespace?)
• Infidel (unregistered)

And if the plane weighs the same as a duck .... then ..... ?

• smartone (unregistered) in reply to Franz Kafka
Franz Kafka:
augustus:
How would you determine the weight of a Boeing 747?

Check the tires and see what weight they are rated for.

or

measure the wingspan and use it to calculate the weight.

According to my 30 seconds of googling, the first method is too unreliable, and from reading this thread , all planes have a logbook of weights and are regularly plopped on scales, so the obvious answer is correct. The fun part is that the common curveballs (what if you don't have a scale?) are easily met with "The plane doesn't fly due to safety concerns".

or "Well, I walk into the cabin and grab the maintenance logs and manuals" "they're not there" "even my car has a manual that lists its gross weight and max net weight.

• smartone (unregistered) in reply to Infidel
Infidel:
And if the plane weighs the same as a duck .... then ..... ?
It's a spruce goose.
• more randomer than you (unregistered) in reply to snoofle
snoofle:
I had the opportunity of interviewing at a place that asked these sorts of questions. In my case, the question was one I hadn't heard before, and I just didn't see the answer. I thought for a minute, couldn't solve the problem, had a tantrum and ran away with my tail between my legs

Fixed it for you.

Sometimes you know, the important thing isn't about getting the correct answer, but rather having solid processes at trying to solve it. If you use good logic, make good assumptions have a demonstratable technique for problem solving, then you will impress - even if you do not come up with the answer they were looking for. If you throw your toys out of the pram when challenged, you are not a good employee and the question has been successful at weeding you out.

• (cs) in reply to Aaron
Aaron:
Manhole covers are round because the manholes are round, and the manholes are round because drills create round holes. Duh.
But it's a manhole. Shouldn't you be using a mandrill instead?
• Frongle (unregistered) in reply to smartone
smartone:
(or if they write it in whitespace?)
I don't think whitespace is a language.... and if they use whitespace to make a solution, you'll immediately see that the program doesn;'t do what it's required to....
• xyz (unregistered)

How would you determine the weight of a Boeing 747? google it..

• Procedural (unregistered) in reply to Frenchier than thou
Frenchier than thou:
Yanman.be:
The light bulbs thingy is easy:

First light 1 switch for 5 minutse, so it gets warm. Turn it off Turn on the other one and open the box. First switch corresponsd to warm lightbulb. Second switch is the lit bulb. Third switch is the unlit bulb.

Almost, nearly works.... if the bulbs are perfectly insulated from the box AND the box is empty of air. In all other cases, the hot bulb will heat the adjacent bulb(s) and you are toast, especially if it is the central one.

And THAT is the problem with stupid hypothetical questions: what are the assumptions?

Tsk, that's a heat-dispersal question. Open the switch, put your hands over, see where it gets warm first. Or scrunch the box a bit and see where it catches fire first. Repeat. The demonstration is made while box is still left unopened.

Shows you can do black-box coding with on systems with limited resources by skipping all of the useless operations.

• smartone (unregistered) in reply to Frongle
Frongle:
smartone:
(or if they write it in whitespace?)
I don't think whitespace is a language.... and if they use whitespace to make a solution, you'll immediately see that the program doesn;'t do what it's required to....
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Whitespace_(programming_language)
• Pax (unregistered) in reply to mxsscott
mxsscott:
I hav interview next week. I try Boeing problem to solve. I know sizeof(747) but not weight. Plz send your codes.

That's easy, use sizeof(747) * weightof(char).

• kabe (unregistered) in reply to akatherder

Wholly sh1t. you have me laughing so hard I lost my breath.

I just had an interview with similar questions and I hope someone asks me this question now.

• Pax (unregistered) in reply to Pax
Pax:
mxsscott:
I hav interview next week. I try Boeing problem to solve. I know sizeof(747) but not weight. Plz send your codes.

That's easy, use sizeof(747) * weightof(char).

Or weightof(747).

• Mr.'; Drop Database -- (unregistered) in reply to Pax
Pax:
That's easy, use sizeof(747) * weightof(char).
weightof(char) = 0.208 kg/L Therefore, weightof(747) = 0.832 kgb/L
• Dazza (unregistered) in reply to Mr.'; Drop Database --
Mr.'; Drop Database --:
Pax:
That's easy, use sizeof(747) * weightof(char).
weightof(char) = 0.208 kg/L Therefore, weightof(747) = 0.832 kgb/L

The wait on a 747 depends on how far away it is

• celeriac (unregistered)

I know there are lots of blind people who bike. They ride second position on tandem bikes.

I'd be pretty speechless too.

• Dave G. (unregistered) in reply to more randomer than you
more randomer than you:
If you throw your toys out of the pram when challenged, you are not a good employee and the question has been successful at weeding you out.

Either that, or you feel that your time is better spent applying for firms who don't feel the need to waste applicants time with a bunch of idiotic questions.

It has nothing to do with the "challenge". There is no challenge in answering a stupid and pointless question. You haven't failed any challenge just because you refuse to answer a stupid and pointless question. A question isn't "challenging" just because you think you've come up with a really clever little riddle, so clever in fact that when you think about how intricate it is, you pat yourself on the back for how smart and ingenious you are.

You may think it's okay to waste my time in the name of running your business, but I do not. I'll work for someone who doesn't waste my time so cheaply. They are, afterall, more likely not to waste my time once I start working for them.

• LaZyLion (unregistered) in reply to akatherder

well, once scale for each wheel should do.

or

take the wings off and truck the 3 parts to a highway trucking scale.

after weighing the trucks empty first.

• Gollum (unregistered) in reply to Dave G.

I don't really understand why people are still arguing this....

Those who think the questions are irrelevant/unecessary seem to all agree they wouldn't work for a company who asks them those anyway

Those who have less problem with the questions are happy to work for these companies

I don't see where the problem is??

• Brody (unregistered) in reply to LM
LM:
Many years ago I had friends who worked at MS and wanted me to get an interview there. They gave me a sample of the their 'current' interview questions.

The question was the classic 'Why are manhole covers round'. My answer was that 'you get more bang for the buck'. In other words, you get more area for less perimeter when you use a circle. A mathematically correct answer (which, coming from a mathematician, isn't that weird). I was told I was wrong and what the correct answer was.

My response to that was 'I gave a valid answer yet I'm wrong? Please don't get me an interview there.' The classic 'we want you to think outside the box' where outside has been redefined as inside.

The REAL WTF is that THERE IS NO ONE CORRECT ANSWER!!! Any person who accepts that the 'correct' answer is "so it won't fall in

the hole" or some other correct but inane answer is missing the point of

asking this type of question. In other words, they're an idiot.

The point is to evaluate the question and determine the person's problem

solving abilities. Many people can quickly come up with the "so it won't

fall in the hole" answer, but that isn't supposed to be the end of the

question! The HR prick is supposed to followup with, "can you give me some

other reasons why manhole covers are round" or "but I've seen square

manhole covers too, so what are some other reasons most manhole covers are

round?" There are also standard followups available to ask for certain

responses to get the candidate to think a little deeper about the problem

and offer more feedback.

The point is to get the applicant to talk it out, and the HR prick should

encourage this, especially if the applicant is having difficulty coming up

with other answers. The HR prick can hint and encourage, but should avoid

giving more than one or two additional answers. A good HR prick can get

the applicant to drop his or her guard to get to see an applicant's

personality come across.

Most HR pricks don't even understand the point of the question, to them

it's just a fun 'trick' or 'logic' question to try to stump people who are

going to make a lot more than them if they get the job. The point of the

question is, a) to evaluate the applicant's problem solving skills, and b)

to get the applicant to lower their guard and let their true personality

shine through to better evaluate how the applicant will fit in the

organization.

Unfortunately, this question has been making the rounds for so long that

the initial answer should be considered suspect if offered too quickly, if

it sounds rehearsed, or if the candidate excitedly blurts out, "Oh, I know

this one!" The question should also be thrown away if the candidate

obviously has rehearsed multiple answers and glibly tosses them out like

toast at The Rocky Horror. Be careful not to confuse the practiced answer

with the quick thinker; I've seen someone literally toss out 15 or so

answers in a minute, and I knew he was being sincere... since he came up

with another 20 or 30 more thoughts about it in the next couple minutes,

just a bit slower than the first 15 answers. He finished up with, "that's

an interesting question. I never thought about that before." He was

brilliant and hired.

If the candidate is unable to come up with anything or is stumped, please,

please! ask another question. You may have really put them on the spot and

they may not be 'mechanically' inclined. Switch to a techie problem more

along the lines of what they'll be doing.

Some possible answers: (by no means a comprehensive list, especially since

I have never heard an answer stated as simply and eloquently as, "you get

more bang for the buck." An answer I would have gladly accepted as correct

and then prompted for more.

So they don't fall in the hole (Why don't they fall in the hole?) Because

there is a lip inside smaller than the manhole cover that prevents it.

(you'll sometimes get explanations here; encourage them to keep talking.) Because a round cover uses less material than a square one (but wouldn't

square ones be easier to manufacture than round since you don't have to cut

the corners off?) Several good responses including; the round ones could be

cast (as they typically are these days.) The material savings justifies

the manufacturing expense (true, BTW.) So car tires are less likely to be cut by a corner of a square or

triangular cover. The people who work in them are more round than square The pipes they are on top of are round. (A good answer, but may often NOT

be true.) Why would you make them different from the manhole? (What if the manhole

is square?) Then you'd make square manhole covers! (Prompt for more

possible reasons.) So they can more easily be rolled away and back onto the hole Because it's harder to roll away a square one (complementary to above) You don't have to line up a circle; when it's on, it's done Should it be a personhole cover? (prompt for more info - a good chance to

get insight into personlity) To keep people from falling in a manhole (Duh!) To prevent someone (or some vehicle) from lifting an edge to remove the

cover. To make it difficult to remove without proper tools. There must be a standard somewhere that specifies that manhole covers are

round... (there are standards, but not that they must be round...) The round tube it sits on is stronger than a square tube would be, so it

matches the round tube. (What if it sits on a square concrete tube? It can

and often does.) I guess they just have round ones laying around! Equipment and wires can be more easily taken in and out of a round hole

without worrying about getting caught or jammed in a corner. It has a pleasing look (aesthetic) about it. Once round manhole covers became popular, it became easier to get them in

that shape. Tradition. Most are round, so it's probably the least expensive shape to get. Supply

and demand. Because a circular mold is easier and more efficient than a square one. The round manhole cover distributes load (pressure) more evenly, where a

square or triangular one could have all the stress on a corner, possibly

breaking it (BTW, round ones can break, too!) It is (much!) less likely to get stuck in the opening

Bad answers: (not wrong, but should require more prompting for alternate

answers.) Because a square one could fall in the hole (if the lip is thick enough, it

will be impossible for a square one to fall in the hole.) Because they are! (mmmkay, why?) They have to be round. (Bzzzzzzzzzzzt. There are square, triangular...) It seems logical. (howso? Please explain further...) I don't know. (Can you think of some possible reasons why they might be

round? Be prepared to explain the point of the exercise to put the

candidate at ease.) I don't care. (can you tell me why you don't care?) I came here for a job

interview for {subject}, and I don't see the point of this question.

(explain the purpose of the exercise, be prepared to move to a different

question. You are gaining insigth into personality.) What's a manhole cover? (consider asking a different question...)

Anecdotal answers from: http://sniptools.com/vault/why-are-manhole-covers-round

April says:

## They are made like that so I can throw them like frisbies at assholes.

ac says:

my favorite answer was from a jamaican engineer. after a bit of

consideration he said, ‘it is round because if it were a rectangle and

## looked up from down below, you would think you were in the grave.’

Earnon (and he's not exactly right, BTW) says:

Round works. Anythimg else is just masturbation on the customer’s dime.

It’s simple, elegant and effective. Can’t be dropped into the shaft. Simple

to fabricate. Strong. Impossible to improperly install.

Jesus, this is a no-brainer.

Only an arrogant egotistical jackass — -more concerned with “making his

mark” than with delivering the best solution to his customers — -would

## choose to use a second or third rate design like a non-round manhole cover.

Ranjit Wankhede says:

Well(,) puzzled over why its called a manhole cover when it should be also

## called a femalehole

delta says:

Why is a manhole called a manhole?

I know it could be called a manhole coz the hole on a man’s body emits

stinking stuff from it & stinks to high hell (especially when they’ve had

curry, beer, kebab, FOOD in general!)

But why is it a MANHOLE?

## (--)answers on a postcard

A waaaay-more-than-I-expected answer from someone named Sushant Bhatia

(originally found at:

http://blogs.msdn.com/bgroth/archive/2004/09/27/235071.aspx) I notice that the type of pipe underneath determines the style of the

manhole. For instance, the Low Pressure Force Main with Air Release is used

in areas where you don't expect your manholes to be blown up by the sudden

surge of content. However, if that is anticipated, then Watertight Manhole

or Locking Lid Manhole would be used. After all you don't want then manhole

spouting its contents all over the pavement/road. That could be a health

hazard.

## Another 'informed' answer, originally found at Chris Sells' website: http://www.sellsbrothers.com/fun/msiview/#myDad

My Dad's All Set to Work At Microsoft

Tue, Apr 22, 2003

My Dad, a long-time draftsman in a civil engineering firm in Fargo, ND, had

this to say about manhole covers:

"It's like this. Sanitary manhole covers are usually round (and solid, i.e.

VERY heavy) but Storm sewer manhole and Inlet covers are usually square or

rectangular grates which let water in. The deciding factor is where they

are placed relative to the curb line. All covers are actually installed on

a concrete generic 'Mexican Hat' structure which can be centered or offset

to one side. The structure fits on the round concrete casting (5' - 8"

diameter) and can be made to accept any solid or grated casting. If this

part of the world, where river flooding is fairly common, Sanitary manholes

and lift stations are either raised above potential flood limits if

possible or sealed and bolted shut, making them much more difficult to

open. It's also a very good idea to vent Sanitary manholes and lift station

with a portable fan to avoid being overcome by methane and other gasses

trapped in them."

## Anyone wonder where I got it? : )

A humorous look at what might happen if Richard Feynman were asked the

manhole question during an interview for Microsoft (Microsoft was famous

for asking this question in the past; I'm not sure if they still do.) Originally seen at Chris Sells' website:

http://www.sellsbrothers.com/fun/msiview/#Feynman

If Richard Feynman applied for a job at Microsoft

Interviewer: Now comes the part of the interview where we ask a question to

test your creative thinking ability. Don't think too hard about it, just

apply everyday common sense, and describe your reasoning process.

Here's the question: Why are manhole covers round?

Feynman: They're not. Some manhole covers are square. It's true that there

are SOME round ones, but I've seen square ones, and rectangular ones.

Interviewer: But just considering the round ones, why are they round?

Feynman: If we are just considering the round ones, then they are round by

definition. That statement is a tautology.

Interviewer: I mean, why are there round ones at all? Is there some

particular value to having round ones?

Feynman: Yes. Round covers are used when the hole they are covering up is

also round. It's simplest to cover a round hole with a round cover.

Interviewer: Can you think of a property of round covers that gives them an

advantage over square ones?

Feynman: We have to look at what is under the cover to answer that

question. The hole below the cover is round because a cylinder is the

strongest shape against the compression of the earth around it. Also, the

term "manhole" implies a passage big enough for a man, and a human being

climbing down a ladder is roughly circular in cross-section. So a

cylindrical pipe is the natural shape for manholes. The covers are simply

the shape needed to cover up a cylinder.

Interviewer: Do you believe there is a safety issue? I mean, couldn't

square covers fall into the hole and hurt someone?

Feynman: Not likely. Square covers are sometimes used on prefabricated

vaults where the access passage is also square. The cover is larger than

the passage, and sits on a ledge that supports it along the entire

perimeter. The covers are usually made of solid metal and are very heavy.

Let's assume a two-foot square opening and a ledge width of 1-1/2 inches.

In order to get it to fall in, you would have to lift one side of the

cover, then rotate it 30 degrees so that the cover would clear the ledge,

and then tilt the cover up nearly 45 degrees from horizontal before the

center of gravity would shift enough for it to fall in. Yes, it's possible,

but very unlikely. The people authorized to open manhole covers could

easily be trained to do it safely. Applying common engineering sense, the

shape of a manhole cover is entirely determined by the shape of the opening

it is intended to cover.

Interviewer (troubled): Excuse me a moment; I have to discuss something

with my management team. (Leaves room.)

(Interviewer returns after 10 minutes)

Interviewer: We are going to recommend you for immediate hiring into the

marketing department.

Keith Michaels [email protected]

that's all folks!!!

• more randomer than you (unregistered) in reply to Stupid
Stupid:
That answer is clearly wrong. If the man is tall enough to drive, he's tall enough to reach all the buttons in an elevator. The maximum height of a button on an elevator is set by law and a quick google shows that it's about 4.5 feet. If the man was shorter than 4 feet, he'd have an awfully hard time operating a car.

Theft is not allowed either. It is set in the law. This is why no-one has ever stolen anything.

• more randomer than you (unregistered) in reply to Code Dependent
Code Dependent:
Krenn:
"If you were a Jedi living here on earth, what kind of job would you get?"
Jedi IS a job. He's a holy man. It's a religion, remember?

No it's not. A bunch or hippies wanted it to be, they were refused and Jedi is not and never was a religion. remember?

• more randomer than you (unregistered) in reply to redacted
redacted:
@eric76 -
The answer is that a round manhole cover won't fall back into the hole since, with the lip, it is always wider than the manhole no matter how you turn it.

You can actually come up with an infinite number of shapes that fit that description... As long as you're not restricted to flat shapes that are the same on both sides, there's no reason it has to be round. ;) If you assume two flat "shapes" sandwiched on top of one another, only the bottom one need to match the hole. The top one can be anything (square bottom, bigger square top; round bottom, octagonal top; etc).

There's no such thing as a "right" answer. Only one that's less "wrong" than the current alternatives. (Obama 2008?)

There are an infinite number of flat shapes anyway. The principle behind each side of a Rouleaux triangle can be extended for any polygon with an odd number of sides.

• Jeff (unregistered) in reply to Mog

Um... the easiest way would be to look at the wiring.

• more randomer than you (unregistered) in reply to Jimmyboy
Jimmyboy:
Do I give up immediately when presented with an utterly ludicrous and contrived problem that I can't even begin to imagine why you're asking about, let alone expecting an answer to? Quite possibly - I'm looking for a job, and don't have time to fuck around.

You have time to apply for an alternative job, organise an interview and complete an interview, but not the time to answer a 5 minute question regardless of how sensible it is?

• csrster (unregistered) in reply to akatherder
akatherder:
How would you determine the weight of a Boeing 747?

With a scale.

Where are you going to find a scale that big!?

Your mom's bathroom.

That's thinking outside the box.

Your mom's box.

• csrster (unregistered)

For a job at an archive I was asked how I would preserve a Microsoft Word document so that it would still be readable in 100 years. I suggested printing it out on acid-free paper. I got the job.

• Vollhorst (unregistered)

Reminds me of my last job interview.

It was for a company that produces simulators and I was asked by one of those second row interrogators: "What would you do when you have to add a new ship engine to the simulator? Where would you get the parameters?"

• "From the manual."

"And if you have no manual?"

• "I would get one."

"And if there is no manual available?"

• "I would order one and in the meantime try to contact the producer."

"And if he is not responding?"

...

Went on for a while. Meanwhile the other interrogators were getting annoyed until they finally interrupted him. Now I know he is one of those guys who hates people who went to a university cause he did not. ;)

• csrster (unregistered)

Boeing 747: Transport the 747 into the inky black eternal night of outer space. It is now weightless.

• Steven Clements (unregistered)
``````*  How would you determine the weight of a Boeing 747?
``````

I wouldn't I don't care what it weighs.

``````* Given an opaque box with three light bulbs inside and three switches outside, how would you determine which switch corresponded to which bulb if the box could be opened only once and only after all the switches were permanently set?
``````

Ask the guy who built the box for a schematic.

``````* You are at a ravine with three others and need to cross a rickety bridge. You can cross it in one minute, the three others can cross it in two, five, and ten, respectively. A flashlight (your group has only one) is always required to cross, and only two people can cross at a time. How do cross as quickly as possible?
``````

Well... I can cross it in a minute... I'm across... who where these others?

• Mike (unregistered) in reply to B92
B92:
The worst thing you could do is argue with me about the validity of the test. Again, I wouldn't want you working for me.
That works out great, actually, since I'd never want to work for you. No way I'm going to work for someone who thinks one's patience in answering pointless and irrelevant questions has any correlation with one's patience in solving important programming problems. You're artificially limiting yourself to people who like to overthink problems and have no problem with wasting time thinking about irrelevant things instead of having the backbone to cut through the bullshit and focus on what matters.
• Philo (unregistered) in reply to Aaron
And you can't have a lip on any other shape?

Take a square box with a lid (tupperware, tea box, etc). Put the lid in the box. Now do the same with a round box.

The folks that did manhole covers figured out the best way of keeping the cover from falling in.

The point of the "Microsoft riddle question" isn't supposed to be to get the cute pat answer (like the twenty guys with hats question), but to evaluate your reasoning skills - to see how you think. "How do you move Mount Fuji" isn't about knowing how many batteries to use in the Someone Else' Problem field, but to talk through the various solutions for moving the mountain.

Someone who looks at what they perceive to be too hard yet "trivial" for them to bother and walks away - probably not someone you want on your team. You've assigned them a problem, they have to solve it.

Mind you, the trivia question has been cargo-culted like everything else - there are people that ask the trivia questions without realizing they're supposed to analyze the thoughts behind the answer, not just hire the person that knows the answer.

"How much does a 747 weigh?" is a good question if you're hiring someone to work with undocumented legacy code. If they refuse to think about it and just want to look up the answer, they're the wrong person for the job.

• hexaeder (unregistered) in reply to B92
B92:
The worst thing you could do is argue with me about the validity of the test. Again, I wouldn't want you working for me.

Yes, because we need more mindless monkeys doing every stupid thing that someone cares to ask of them. I'd rather have a person who uses one's head in my team rather than someone who doesn't understand, or who doesn't have the willingness to question, what is relevant for the task.

I'm pretty sure I wouldn't want YOU working for me.

• Dave G. (unregistered) in reply to Philo
Philo:
Someone who looks at what they perceive to be too hard yet "trivial" for them to bother and walks away - probably not someone you want on your team. You've assigned them a problem, they have to solve it.

Uh, no. They don't work for you yet. They don't have to solve it.

The idea that you assigning them some bullshit abstract problem and seeing how they react would give you any indication at all as to how they would react when a real problem with real meaning and a real business case behind it came along is absolutely laughable. You are deluded beyond help if you think there is any correlation whatsoever.

"How much does a 747 weigh?" is a good question if you're hiring someone to work with undocumented legacy code. If they refuse to think about it and just want to look up the answer, they're the wrong person for the job.

This is the same mistake again. You're drawing correlations between a stupid, abstract problem and a real situation with real constraints and requirements.

In the real world, if an employee has to maintain a legacy system, the first thing they will ask is "where is the documentation"? This is a normal thing to ask. One would hope that legacy systems are documented at least to some extent somewhere. The documentation may not exist, but they will ask for it just in case it might.

It is not stupid to ask for documentation, because if the documentation does exist, it will allow them to learn the system much more quickly.

Now when suggesting solutions for this test situation, the first thing they will do is... surprise, say they will look it up in the documentation.

Therefore, if your stupid test fails them because they, as they would in a real situation, say they will look it up in the documentation - a perfectly normal and correct thing to do - you've really proved sweet fuck all, haven't you?

These tests are just a way for managers to make themselves feel smug and superior to applicants. "Haha, I know the answer... do you? Do you? Well I do. I'm smart. And I'm going to enjoy watching you fumble about while I sit here basking in the glow of my own smug sense of self-satisfaction. I'm the boss here, and don't you forget it kiddo."

Not the sort of idiot I want to be working for.

• Casey (unregistered)

Weighing the 747, something to do with using a tire pressure gauge.

Crossing the bridge question is easy. What's my deadline? If it's 10 minutes, we'll make it in 10 because I always make my deadlines. If I can cross in one minute, I can drag the slow 10 minute guy accross with me. If he won't cooperate, then over the bridge he goes.

• Some Guy (unregistered) in reply to B92
B92:
I've been on both side of this one (interviewee and interviewer) and also giving/taking programming tests.

While I'll conceed that the teaser is useless for figuring out if you can program, it is VERY effective in figuring out how you handle pressure and unknowns. Did you give up immediately without even trying? If so, I don't want you working for me.

I sure don't want to work for someone who defends this kind of wanking and can't even spell "concede".

• Wauter (unregistered)

The Boeying and bike questions do not sound silly to me at all, that type of questions is a fun way of getting a lighthearted "design" and "creative problem-solving" conversation started, which is exactly what you are most curious about for a new programmer on your team.

They also require no topic-specific knowledge in advance, which is a drawback of the "technical" analog of these questions ("how would you go about writing a method that takes this and returns that...")

I believe it was Joel on Software who wrote how he always includes "The Impossible Question" in interviews for the same purpose - and it's often the most fun part at that.

And actually, same with the light-bulb and other questions - these are more quantitative so require the applicant to write or at least think out loud, but the correct approach can still be found by systematic reasoning and having a problem-solving mind.

The - annoying - type of riddles are those you can only answer if you've already heard them because the answer is so far-fetched. But trying to imagine how they make m&m's? Nope, that's just stimulating conversation in my book!

Btw, the answers you list are all very "correct" to me! Practical creative people with a sense of humor? That's what we hire in our (mathematical software) company!

• Some Guy (unregistered) in reply to hey ya check yer fax
hey ya check yer fax:
LED bulbs do not generate heat.

What's your next guess?

If you can show me an LED that produces no heat, I'll get you twenty million in venture money overnight.

• (cs) in reply to akatherder

You're all getting this wrong. Let's take "How would you determine the weight of a Boeing 747"

When presented with a problem like that, the first question is ALWAYS "Who do I bill for this?"

The second answer would be "I'd get some coffee and then google it." Hmm... Microsoft interview, make that "MSN search it".

Then I'd have to ask for their legal counsel since after 9/11 Boeing hasn't released their airplane details in anywhere remotely public. In fact, they might be completely secret now.

Then I'd ask what the client (or my boss) needs the info for, and in what configuration -- just fuselage, with(out) chairs, with(out) instruments, fueled up or running on fumes, cargo status, etc. If they reply "current weight" I'd suggest a truck scale or a simply looking at the instruments. If they want further I'd suggest a job cost evaluation to see how long I'd use for this and how much the client (or my boss) is willing to pay for the information, since it's usually not the job of a peon to decide what or where he's doing, but it most certainly is his job to make sure his boss knows who's paying for it.

• (cs) in reply to Franz Kafka
Franz Kafka:
Rocketboy:
But, what if you lived in a world with no Zinc, so there was no firing pin in the gun?

Firing pins are either Titanium or hardened steel.

Woosh. Hint: "Zinc Oxide and You".

• (cs) in reply to akatherder
akatherder:
How would you determine the weight of a Boeing 747?

With a scale.

Where are you going to find a scale that big!?

Your mom's bathroom.

Best

Comment

Ever.

• (cs) in reply to LM
LM:
Many years ago I had friends who worked at MS and wanted me to get an interview there. They gave me a sample of the their 'current' interview questions.

The question was the classic 'Why are manhole covers round'. My answer was that 'you get more bang for the buck'. In other words, you get more area for less perimeter when you use a circle. A mathematically correct answer (which, coming from a mathematician, isn't that weird). I was told I was wrong and what the correct answer was.

My response to that was 'I gave a valid answer yet I'm wrong? Please don't get me an interview there.' The classic 'we want you to think outside the box' where outside has been redefined as inside.

Hummm isn't it because the hole is round? Oh nm

• coRGAn (unregistered) in reply to Mog

There is only one bulb.

• VP (unregistered) in reply to too_many_usernames

Boeing 747: call the manufactorer, they definitely know how much the plane weighs by it's parts. Light box: Light one for a period of time, shut off. Light another, open box. Check for hot dark bulb, lit bulb, dark bulb. The ravine one is old and I cba going over it.

I like these sort of brainteasers, they can be a fun sidestep at a rather mundane interview.

• (cs) in reply to B92
B92:

The biggest disservice that I could perform in an interview is ask "What are your biggest strenths and what is your biggest weakness?" Completely useless.

The biggest disservice that I could perform in an interview is ask "What are your biggest strengths and what is your biggest weakness?" Completely useless.

See, fixed that for you

• coRGAn (unregistered) in reply to Mog
Mog:
Yanman.be:
The light bulbs thingy is easy:

First light 1 switch for 5 minutse, so it gets warm. Turn it off Turn on the other one and open the box. First switch corresponsd to warm lightbulb. Second switch is the lit bulb. Third switch is the unlit bulb.

But now one of the bulbs is broken. What would you do?

There is only one bulb.

• Ger (unregistered) in reply to Mog

I check the wiring. Much faster, much more info.

• Ville (unregistered) in reply to Ren
Ren:
Then I'd have to ask for their legal counsel since after 9/11 Boeing hasn't released their airplane details in anywhere remotely public. In fact, they might be completely secret now.
You are so right, but Google still knows about Boeings super secret website..

http://www.boeing.com/commercial/747family/pf/pf_400_prod.html

Or if you don't want to Google it, you could just go to www.boeing.com, select Commercial airplanes, Products, 747, Technical Information, General technical characteristics and finally the exact model you prefer.

• Dan (unregistered) in reply to Yanman.be

Well first we have reject our null hypothesis that there is no correlation between the switches and the bulbs. It's very possible that we don't even have a 1 to 1 correlation. One switch could control them all, one could control two. You might need to have two on to control 1. Heck they might not be connected at all.

Problem is flawed since it thinks from only an engineering standpoint. Look at through the eyes of a scientist.

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