Thursday, 26 March 2015

Ten Dumb... err Clever Programmer Interview Questions

Over at The Simple Programmer (I think), they posted a bunch of questions that recruiters ask programmers and analysts. Here are my answers.

1. "What would you do if you were the one survivor in a plane crash?" (Airbnb Trust and Safety Investigator job candidate). More Airbnb interview questions. ME: where did it crash? What that tells you: Like everyone with a tonne of experience, I know context is all.

2. "What's your favorite 90s jam?” (Squarespace Customer Care job candidate) ME: Jam as in music or jam as in basketball or jam as in jelly? What this tells you: You come at me with ambiguities, and I’m going to help you clarify them.

3. "If you woke up and had 2,000 unread emails and could only answer 300 of them, how would you choose which ones to answer?" (Dropbox Rotation Program job candidate.) ME: In descending order of the ability of a non-response to get me fired. What this tells you: I’m political

4. "How many people flew out of Chicago last year?" - (Redbox Software Engineer II job candidate ). ME: This is one of those Fermi estimation questions isn’t it? Actually, I’d probably look up the answer on Wikipedia. What this tells you: I know where to look up information.

5. "How much do you charge to wash every window in Seattle?" (Facebook Online Sales Operations job candidate). ME: Well, what you want me to do is a Fermi estimation. Or are you looking to see how much I really want as a salary? What this tells you: I think you’re playing games.

6. "Given 25 swimmers and a pool with five lanes, what is the minimum number of heats needed to determine the three fastest swimmers in the group?" (CKM Advisors Data Scientist job candidate.) ME: Oh heck. You didn’t say this was a combinatorics job. Not my strength. Nice meeting you. What this tells you: I’m not your guy.

7. "If you were a Muppet, which would you be?" (TicketNetwork Executive Support job candidate.) ME: Mal Reynolds in Firefly. What this tells you: I understand what you’re getting at with this question, so here’s an answer I can live with.

8. "How many gas stations are there in America?" (Zappos Family Senior Financial Analyst job candidate.) ME: What is it with Fermi estimation questions? Call Exxon. Ask them.

9. "You have a 1 mile long x 1 mile wide private island that you wish to turn into a resort. A plane requires a 2-mile long runway to take off. What do you do?" (Riot Games QA Analyst job candidate) ME: You want me to build a circular runway, don’t you? it would be just over 3 miles long. It wouldn’t work though because the airplane tyres and undercarriage wouldn’t take the centrifugal force at anything near take-off speed, not to mention the awful airflow wouldn’t generate enough lift.

10. "Why is the earth round?" (Twitter Software Engineer job candidate) ME: it isn’t. It’s oblate. And it’s oblate because gravity, centrifugal force and liquid core. Or something. What this tells you: I don’t do groupthink assumptions.

I know. I’m not going to get the job. But then, if they’re asking these questions, I don’t want it.

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