Unusual Interview Questions

A discussion happening on Software Testing Club about interview questions like “how would you test a ….” (pencil or calculator or some such object) and whether it makes sense or otherwise had me hooked since there were Yes and Nays with justifications to that which makes it interesting.

My contribution to the forum is given below (along with some links worthy of a read).

As a interviewer I have always asked questions like “how will you test a hard disk” or “FPS game” or “a vending machine” etc.. These are simplistic yet related to finding out about how quickly the interviewees think on their feet, what they think in terms of new/radical/crazy ideas of & how well they adapt which is what testing is all about and much more.

We are all aware that interviewees sometimes go through all kinds of unusual rituals (right from something thrown at interviewee to take him unawares to keeping him waiting and checking his body language or using the CCTV to observe and monitor the “creature” whether he reads, what he reads, fidgets, droops, digs his nose & so on..) I have heard about even instances about people being abused and insulted just to check their lava spewing point… They make sense because it helps us delve into the interviewee’s mind to show us some of his er ‘hidden’ qualities..(positive and not so positive) which relates to the job on offer in a indirect but devious way.

Since interviewing time is always limited coupled with the risk / cost of a dodo getting hired which we then have to endure along with our shattered abused self-esteem – we want to try reasonably and discover the personality from different angles to make the best choice under the circumstances. I would thus vote for as much creativity as possible while staying within limits of decency, fair play and sanity. For example I am never going to ask a tester to let me know different uses of a condom (immoral question) or test a hand grenade (risk of damaging furniture, causing noise pollution, inviting media attention and other dangers).

So at the cost of a pencil sticking from my eye or going into a sneezing fit with salt and phlegm running helter-skelter out of my nose, I would continue asking such questions….

Links:

Unusual Interview Questions link 1

Unusual Interview Questions link 2

12 Craziest Google Interview Questions

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2 responses to “Unusual Interview Questions

  1. I have heard about even instances about people being abused and insulted just to check their lava spewing point

    I have heard it too. I often wonder if the interviewee can really distinguish between real abuse and made up abuse you talk about in this post. I also wonder about what impression the interviewee will takeaway after the interview.

    I was once rejected in an interview because 1) I was married, 2) I have a child 3) I live very far from their office. The HR was dumb enough to put it across that I was simply not a candidate who could slog for 12 hrs a day. Hyprocrisy? May be. May be not.

    Regards,
    Parimala Shankaraiah

    • Your example of rejection is a sad reflection of ‘bad’ expectations which is not uncommon here. The positive for you in this case must have been being rejected because who would want work in a setup where HR thinks as such.

      Interviews sometimes gives away not only what you as a supervisor stand for but even what the culture/collective mindset of the company is… Thus as interviewers we have to be mindful to be honest. With interviewees, I have always tried to be transparent, time-conscious (don’t keep them waiting) and courteous. Ask them relevant questions. Spell out scenarios which are real and listen keenly to what their responses are. Make them comfortable by offering them water & beverages & so on.. The idea is the interviewee needs to be at peace in the foreign environment and with the stranger interviewer. Though youngsters may get intimidated and get tongue tied I do this with almost all the people I speak with so that they open up and speak their mind without any pressure.

      The abusive language put-on is likely for marketing folks but I would never use it so blatantly or even at all & I think there should be other ways to handle this. (I remember in the late 80s a person used to come to our office to sell photocopier consumables who was all courtesy personified in the face of very coarse and dismissive language used by our manager. Despite being rejected each time the salesman used to keep coming week after week with the same message. Some persistence he had!) Something to learn here even for testers isn’t it.

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