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More Crazy Interview Questions

Newsletter • volume 1 • number 13

At the start of each recruiting season, we publish some of the surprising questions we discover are still being used by interviewers.

A high-tech firm recently shared this story with us. One of the company's recruiters for software engineers was beginning his on-campus interviews with this question: "Pick a number between 1 and 100." Unless the student picked 50, the interview was over. Eventually, so many university placement offices protested this practice that it was stopped.

What was going on in that recruiter's mind? It seems that he was looking for people who automatically thought about the number 100 in terms of what's called the "binary search algorithm," which is a method of sorting computer data. With this method, computer software problems are diagnosed by cutting the data in half - 50 out of 100 - and then in half again, and again, until the problem is found.

The corporate recruiter evidently believed that any software engineer who did not automatically think in this way about the number 100 was hopeless. So, it turns out, was that student's chance of getting a complete interview with this particular recruiter.