What Are Some Crazy And Common Interview Questions?
Written December 5, 2016
I put together five common questions I normally ask and one crazy one.
Common Interview Questions
1. Tell me about yourself?
This question will probably be the first question off the bat from the interviewer -- I know it's the one I use all the time as a really solid ice breaker.
I'm not looking for a life story about how you grew up playing soccer in the streets of New York City. Instead:
- Try to keep it to 2-3 minutes long with a focus on stuff relevant to who you are and the job at hand. I've had people spend 10 minutes rambling without even giving me a second to interject to stop. Ugg.
- Give me a light background on your college career -- your major and why it interests you.
- Tell me about any relevant job experiences / internships / college campus jobs.
- Try to focus on the most recent experience and give me examples of things you enjoyed/succeeded during your time there.
Again, the goal is to break the ice, get a sense of who you are, and see what relevant experiences you've had recently.
And so you know, I'm going to be saying relevant experiences a lot. Everything should be about how you can help solve the problem the company has and add value.
2. Tell me about a time when you had troubles with a coworker and how you fixed it?
Half the reason I'm talking to you in person is to make sure we can work together. Based on your resume, I think you can probably do the job, but do I actually want to work with you every day?
Heck, I'm going to be spending more time with you than I am with my family every week.
So your answer has to show that you're a mature person that can deal with a conflict that might arise during our time working together.
For example, I've worked with people on projects who had very different opinions on what our next steps should be. We'd spend an hour debating the merits of what was currently working and not working. However, we'd always come to a conclusion on what to do next as a team. Even if I didn't immediately agree on the course of action, I put 100% effort into making sure we executed on it.
If it works, the team wins -- it wasn't about who came up with the idea in the first place.
3. Why did you leave, or why do you want to leave, your last job?
Be honest. I'm going to ask your references anyways, so I wouldn't recommend starting off with a lie.
Ideally, the reason for leaving your old job should be a major reason why you want this job. Again, you want your answer to show value to the company and be relevant to the job at hand.
Here were my examples:
1. I was working as a consultant in Los Angeles but wanted to live in San Francisco with my future wife. I actually really liked my job and consulting, so when they asked this question it was simple -- "I really enjoy consulting and statistical analysis -- doing work with big data to find the answers to questions -- I just don't want to be an hour plane ride from my wife at this point."
2. I learned after six months at that job that company culture and the subject matter I work on matter to me. So when they asked at my next job the answer was along the lines of "The company culture didn't meet with my expectations and I'm not passionate about healthcare. However, I've always had a passion for real estate -- I've had two internships working in it and I grew up with family around it. So I want to work for a tighter knit group of people that have a passion for what they are doing -- not just people begrudgingly working together."
4. Why do you want to work for us?
I'm going to sound like a bit of a broken record, but the goal again here is to show how you can add value to the company -- how your relevant skills and experiences fill the need for the company.
So you want to stay positive and value add with things like:
- I want to apply my passion and understanding of this thing you find valuable to the problem you have at hand.
- I'm ready for a new challenge that will utilize this thing I've learned well over the past couple of years.
Don't be a hater and avoid topics that center around you:
- I hate my boss and my coworkers.
- I can see my current company going out of business and I need to jump ship.
- You offer me a chance for professional advancement.
5. Do you have any questions for me?
Yes, you always have a question. Always.
The most important part of this question is the fact that it usually happens at the end of the interview.
When people form memories of an event, two parts leave an outsized, lasting impression:
- The greatest moment (Either positive or negative)
- The end
If the interview wraps up with you saying "I don't have any questions, thanks for your time," you've wasted a valuable opportunity to leave some sort of positive impression.
It's expected that you do your research about the company and the people you're interviewing with. So use this as a time to ask a probing question that shows you care. Something like:
"I've seen the marketing department put a lot of effort on XYZ recently. How did the team work to come to the conclusion to work on that and how do you see this role making it better next time?"
I usually do something fun too -- what do you do for lunch? It'll get at the company culture. Do people eat together out somewhere? Do they sit at their desk during lunch? Do people interact across departments? All that good stuff.
Crazy Interview Questions1. How many gas stations are there in the US?
These kinds of "case questions" are really about working through a problem and seeing how you think about. Similar questions in this vein are "how many ping pong balls fit in a 747?"
Your real goal is to:
- Make some basic, rational assumptions.
- Work with me to get more data on the problem
- Logic your way through the (rational) assumptions
So this question has two ways to go, either do a analysis focused on your experience of gas stations per capita (Easy). Or do a detailed supply and demand analysis (How many cars are there and how many cars can 1 gas station service in a day?) (Very hard)
The population focus: There are 300,000,000 people in America. My town/city/neighborhood has X many people living in it. There are Y many gas stations in my town. Therefore, America has Y / X * 300,000,000.
You can then think about how to refine your number based on population density and such, but that's the kind of thinking we're looking for.
The supply/demand analysis:
Demand There are 300,000,000 million people in America. There are 3 people per household . Each household has 1 cars. Therefore, there are 100,000,000 million cars in America. (About 75% of people going this way get stuck here and revert back to the population focus. If they plow ahead and solve it, that's a very good sign.) Cars fill up once per 5 days. So we are going to need to service ~20,000,000 cars per day.
Supply A gas station is open 24/7. Based on my most recent experience, there are something like 6-10 pumps in a station, so let's say 10 for simplicity. I'd say it takes 6 minutes to fill up a car (Again for round numbers) so that means a station can do 60 minutes / 6 minutes/fill * 10 fills = 100 fills/hour at max capacity -- which I've never seen. So let's say during the 12 hours of the day it runs at 20% capacity (usually me and someone else there) and at night it runs at 1% capacity. Thats 12 * 20 = 240 + 12 * 1 = 12 = ~250/cars/day/station
Putting it together: 20,000,000 / 250 = 80,000
I think the answer is around 100,000, but, again, the more important part is thinking through the problem.