Mike Buzzelli

The oddball interviews

The oddball interviews

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I have been asked some crazy questions in my recent book interviews, but they are nothing compared to questions I have been asked on job interviews. I remember on a test for the phone company, they listed this gem: “What’s bigger, a whale or a guppy?” I kept thinking it was some sort of trick question. When, in reality, they just wanted to make sure you weren’t just darkening in circles because it was close to the end of the test.


Glassdoor.com, a job website, came up with a list of the top 25 oddball questions for 2013. There are some real whack-a-doodle questions.


Some of them made a little sense. Trader Joe’s, the grocery store chain, asked, “If we were to come to your house for dinner, what would you prepare for us?” That makes sense. I assume the interviewees peppered some TJ’s stuff into their answer. It’s probably a good way for them to see if the prospective employee has any familiarity with their product line.


Some of the other questions were much more outlandish.


JetBlue asked, “How many quarters would you need to reach the height of the Empire State Building?”


Who would possibly know that? Was that on the pilot’s exam or a just a flight attendant’s interview? My answer would have to be, “A freaking lot.”


The fine people at Dell, the computer company, asked, “What song best describes your work ethic?” A woman named Debbie thought she was being clever when she said, “She works hard for the money,” unaware that the song is about a prostitute. Rupaul’s “You better work” comes to mind, but, once again, a drag performer may not be the best role model in an interview (I’m pretty sure tramp trumps queen).


Someone at PriceWaterhouseCoopers was asked, “My wife and I are going on vacation. Where would you recommend?” If I recommended a European vacation, they might be looking for a more frugal answer. After all, they are all accountants over there.


Bandwidth.com, an Internet company, asked, “If you could be any kitchen utensil, what would it be?”Answers ranged from spork to spatula. My friend Sandy said, “Nutcracker … because the interviewer must be nuts.”


Jiffy Software asked, “Have you ever stolen a pen from work?” I think stolen is a strong word. I have a lot of borrowed pens, but I wouldn’t call them stolen. Accidentally walking out with a pen is a lot easier than walking out with a Xerox machine.


Urban Outfitters asked, “If you could pick two celebrities to be your parents, who would they be?” I would have answered, “Rich celebrity parents who wouldn’t make me work at Urban Outfitters.”


There were questions about how would you direct someone to make an omelet to how to make a tuna fish sandwich. They asked questions about celebrities and songs. Living Social, a coupon website company, even asked interviewees to perform their favorite song.


The next time someone asks you, “Where do you see yourself in five years?,” count your lucky stars that they didn’t ask you anything weird or rude.


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