So just yesterday, I held a booth at San Diego State University’s Entrepreneur day fair. The event featured both student and alumni entrepreneurs who have started their own business out of San Diego. Alumni including founder Thom McElroy of Volcom, Wing Lam of Wahoo’s, JEDIDIAH clothing, Rubio’s, and several others came down to host their own spot at the event. It was really great to be able to see so many people who have graduated from SDSU and create such strong brands & companies that are now operating on a nationwide scale.
So how did my day go?
I’m glad you asked. It went GREAT. I’m so excited to be working with so many new clients, and it was awesome just to be on campus and meet so many cool people. In honor of entrepreneur day, I had created a few special packages that were geared for the graduate starting out on their career path. Including the traditional grad photos, I was also offering business headshots that they might use on a resumé, business card, or online bio page.
And in the spirit of the season of graduation, I also put together a list of some of the most interesting & thought provoking interview questions that have actually been asked in meetings with Google, Pixar, Qualcomm, Dreamworks, and Microsoft. In addition to the questions on the back of my brochure, I’ve included a few more on this blog with the according rationale to help you understand “why” the interviewer would ask these crazy questions. Here we go!
1. IF YOU WERE A PART ON A CAR, WHICH PART WOULD YOU BE & WHY?
(A lot of employers will ask questions like these to read into personality type. There’s no right answer, but try to choose something that shows strong qualities that can relate to the job. Some examples from earlier today – “I’d be the bumper – it protects the unit, bears all the force against it, keeps everything together,” another said “The spark plugs – I like to get things started and running off the ground and into action,” and also “I’d be the steering wheel – I feel like I can navigate the direction and keep everything in control” My response was that I would be the radio – I like to keep things fun and entertaining, making the drive a whole lot easier! However I’d never play morning talk-shows.)
A few other questions that have been used include, “What kind of animal/tree/food/star-wars-character would you be?”
“Describe yourself in 3 words.”
“What’s the most important part of a sandwich?”
“What makes you angry?”
“If a front-page newspaper headline were to be about you, what would it be titled?”
“When you die, what words do you think would be written on your tombstone?”
“If you could trade places for a week with someone living/dead, fictional/real, who would it be?
“If you could build an edible house, what would it be made out of?”
2. WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE DRINK?
(These questions are merely an expansion of the first set, but used in a more concrete way to analyze someone’s habits, lifestyle, etc. An answer to this question with something alcoholic will obviously send a message to the employer letting them know that drinking is a common part of your life – some employers might try to hire non-drinkers to keep health insurance low [might just order the water instead...] These questions invade your personal life in a way that’s uncommon in traditional interviews, but can be useful in determining the right fit for you in a company. Some may be asked to see if you read relevant info to the industry, to see whether or not you plan things out well, or how organized you are. Other similar questions have been asked such as “what would I find in your refrigerator right now?”
“what was the last book you read?”
“what magazines do you subscribe to?”
“what car do you drive?”
“what’s your favorite song?”
“what was the funnest thing about college…girls, clubbing, drinking?
3. IF I ASSEMBLED 3 OF YOUR PAST EMPLOYERS IN A ROOM AND ASKED THEM ABOUT YOU – WHAT WOULD THEY TELL ME THAT “YOU” WOULD SAY IS NOT TRUE?
(Personally I think these questions are the most interesting – they carry an unavoidable negative connotation that makes you think *very* carefully about what you’re going to say.) To answer this question, the best possible answer might actually be to appear on the opposite end of the spectrum & say, “they would probably all over-praise me. I work hard for my supervisors, but am a humble individual.”
Other questions that tend to put you on the spot include:
Do you think the average employee steals more from the company than the employer steals from him/her in a given week?
(This question is a TOUGH one. However, to answer it, you should first start out by saying that you don’t think employee’s ever really intentionally steal from the company, but some might take home paper clips, rubber bands, etc. Another approach which would demonstrate intelligence would be to analyze the time spent sending personal emails, browsing content not related to work, and gossip time near the water cooler. If the hourly wage was calculated by the amount of time doing these kind of personal activities, it would depend on how much time each person spent & the corresponding levels of their salary.
Who do you like better – your mom or your dad?
It’s funny that this question actually showed up from actual interviews – I remember getting this question growing up. The best answer is obviously not to choose one or the other, but to say that you learned important things from both which have helped you become successful in life. Don’t indicate any family problems during an interview.
How do you think I rate as an interviewer?
You’ll want to respond to this in a way that assesses how knowledgeable they are about the company, competitors, future direction, and benefits. How did they respond to YOUR questions.
If you could get rid of any one of the 50 United States, which one would you get rid of, and why?
I want to hear your answers for this one!
3. If you were at a business lunch and you ordered a rare steak and they brought it to you well done, what would you do?
(These questions will assess your ability to handle tough circumstances/scenarios on the job. This specific question will test your approach towards handling unacceptable work.)
“How would you feel about working for someone who knows less than you?”
“How do you feel about taking no for an answer?”
“What are the first three things you’d do on your first day at work here?”
4. How many gas stations would you say there are in the United States?
(I think these questions are awesome. They’re geared towards understanding your ability to estimate & solve large problems, understand reasoning behind decisions, and creativity. I included a lot of these because I like them so much.
“How many times do a clock’s hands overlap in a day? ”
“How would you weigh a plane without scales?”
“With your eyes closed, tell me step-by-step how to tie my shoes.”
“Why is a manhole cover round?”
“What is the temperature when it’s twice as cold as zero degrees?”
“How would you design a spice rack for a blind person?”
“Can you describe an atom?”
“Why is there fuzz on a tennis ball?”
“How would you explain a database in three sentences to your eight-year-old nephew?”
“Describe a lemon without using the words sour, fruit, or yellow.”
“What are 10 ways to use a pencil other than writing?”
Here are some photos from the event yesterday – thanks for coming!