Interview questions

I haven’t had a job interview for a long time now, but I’m really glad I have never been asked questions like these:

Questions by Google

1. How many golf balls can fit in a school bus?
2. You are shrunk to the height of a nickel and your mass is proportionally reduced so as to maintain your original density. You are then thrown into an empty glass blender. The blades will start moving in 60 seconds. What do you do?
3. How many piano tuners are there in the entire world?
4. In a country in which people only want boys, every family continues to have children until they have a boy. If they have a girl, they have another child. If they have a boy, they stop. What is the proportion of boys to girls in the country?
5. Describe a chicken using a programming language.

Questions by Microsoft

1. You have a bucket of jelly beans. Some are red, some are blue, and some green. With your eyes closed, pick out 2 of a like color. How many do you have to grab to be sure you have 2 of the same?
2. Pairs of primes separated by a single number are called prime pairs. Examples are 17 and 19. Prove that the number between a prime pair is always divisible by 6 (assuming both numbers in the pair are greater than 6). Now prove that there are no ‘prime triples.’
3. Imagine an analog clock set to 12 o’clock. Note that the hour and minute hands overlap. How many times each day do both the hour and minute hands overlap? How would you determine the exact times of the day that this occurs?
4. How much does a 747 weigh?
5. Imagine a disk spinning like a record player turn table. Half of the disk is black and the other is white. Assume you have an unlimited number of color sensors. How many sensors would you have to place around the disk to determine the direction the disk is spinning? Where would they be placed?

The comments on the original thread come up with several answers for most the questions, and I’m sure I could also, eventually, find smart-alec or decent answers for them.  But whether I could manage anything appropriate under interview conditions, is a different entirely.


Iain Dale’s “Where were you?” meme

I rather like the idea behind Iain Dale’s “Where were you?” meme, so I’m filling it in voluntarily.

Princess Diana’s death – 31 August 1997
I was at home with my parents working in Safeway as a cashier over the summer. I’d spent much of the night on IRC chatting with people, and we’d watched the news come in piece by by piece. The crash, the injury, the speculation. I went to bed before it had been confirmed that she had actually died, and woke up to the National Anthem playing on Today on Radio 4. My parents called in from the next room – “So, the Queen Mum’s finally gone then?” – and they really weren’t prepared for the answer.

Two years later, I was living in Paris and later in my six months there, fell in with a well off, well connected sugar daddy who told me he knew the surgeon who received the ambulance with the fatally wounded princess. The story went that she was conscious, and talking, when she got to hospital, but that it was clear to all that her injuries were not survivable.

Margaret Thatcher’s resignation – 22 November 1990
What time of day did this happen? I would have been at school or at one the many afterschool clubs that kept me busy. I have a memory of a special class the following day to make sure we all understood what had happened and what it meant. I can remember the room it happened in, at my 3rd secondary school. However, my memory just has to be faulty, because I didn’t get to that school until after that date.

Attack on the twin towers – 11 September 2001
I was having a lie in that day and didn’t find out until a long way into the afternoon. A friend texted – “have you heard what happened? – turn on any tv, any channel, any time.” We called together the usual gang of suspects for an “end of the world party” that evening, where we just drank and talked all night.

England’s World Cup Semi Final v Germany in – 4 July 1990
No idea. Wouldn’t have particularly cared at the time, still wouldn’t now.

President Kennedy’s Assassination – 22 November 1963
My dad was 8…

Tweets on 2008-08-21

  • I seen Beyoncé at Burger King – and she was eat’n! #
  • Being lobbied by phone on a decision that’s already happened, happily in the way they want. Like shooting fish in a barrel. #
  • @hughmcguire eep, bits of that are slightly NSFW #
  • Shutting down the website before I accidentally order any more branded tat #
  • Doing the three-bin shuffle to get the right wheelie bin on the street for the binmen. #

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BritBlog roundup

I’ve just belatedly noticed that BritBlog Roundup, this week hosted at the Telegraph, no less, gave me a plug for my Twitter chest-beating last week. Thanks!

BritBlog is one of those things that I think is a good idea, and think I ought to support, but actually only read when it happens to crop up on a site I read anyway. Mostly Jonathan Calder.

Tweets on 2008-08-18

  • Watching latest Star Wars. Didn’t realise it was animated. Must have missed the memo. #
  • Looking at transport options for Dublin. Plane – £50. Train £50, but takes 9hrs each way. Car – £100, plus 6hr drive to Holyhead. Hmmm. #
  • Ah, no wait, car ferry is £100ish each way! #

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