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Oddball Interview Questions Expand / Collapse
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Posted Friday, February 7, 2014 12:08 PM


Grasshopper

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Too much time in T-SQL. My straight answer is "I wouldn't -- it's not a practical tool for that job."

There is a distinct possibility that a question like that is a trick question, a trap for geeks that like to fiddle without regard to practicality. Or maybe they're looking for impractical geek types. Who knows.

Peter Schott (2/7/2014)
Nadrek (2/7/2014)
Knut Boehnert (2/7/2014)

"How would you fill a coffee cup in T-SQL?"


Well, I'd probably start off development by using xp_cmdshell to interface with the driver for the stepper motor or motors controlling the cup and the coffeepot. That's a security hole, though, so I'd have to explore other communications options to the stepper driver; perhaps a CLR procedure would work well.


Strangely, that's the same way I was thinking. Too much time around labs with automation software driving their tests, I guess. :)
Post #1539341
Posted Friday, February 7, 2014 12:45 PM
SSCrazy

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the questions asked are often common things we have done but we are being asked to "solve a problem" using technical tools and thought. Not a novel idea and not at all that challenging if you look at it. If asked how would I write TSql to pour coffee, drive a car, or open an email, I would use the same problem solving skills and syntax as if I were witting a complex TSql process to perform a logical data function.

You have to think about this. If an interview or associated written test and is going to be scored, I must assume that EVERY question has some assigned value. I would answer it, and do as good a job as I could. If I respond to the question with "You got to be joking" or Wrong Tool For the Wrong Thing" I will not be scored and will not get any points for that response.

And saying I would not want a job where they ask stupid questions on the interview is really bright as well. What job have any of us had where we are asked to do stupid things, and what user has not asked for a really silly thing one time or another. In each case we do our best and caveat the rest.

If we give some wisecrack as a response, the potential employer might see us as arrogant and a non-team player.


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Post #1539357
Posted Friday, February 7, 2014 1:05 PM
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I've given an oddball answer to a straight question.....and got the job.

It was the "have you got any questions for me" question.

My answer was "have you got any wire because my exhaust dropped off in your car park"!


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Post #1539364
Posted Friday, February 7, 2014 1:22 PM


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I've always disliked those types of trick questions, and I've sat often enough on both sides of the table.

"How would you fill a cup of coffee with T-SQL?"
"Get a good job using it, hire an assistant, and tell them to get me one."

"If you were going to hold a parade in our office, what would it be like?"
"Is this place family friendly? If not, Mardi Gras. If so, Mickey Mouse. Either way, I'll be taking a sick day. Not a fan of them."

"If you were a tree, what would you be?"
"Not having this interview."

"Star Wars or Star Trek?"
"Ice Pirates."

I'm more than happy to walk someone through my thought processes if they really want to watch Chaos Theory become a solution. These questions have always simply annoyed me.



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Post #1539371
Posted Friday, February 7, 2014 1:53 PM


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Evil Kraig F (2/7/2014)
I've always disliked those types of trick questions, and I've sat often enough on both sides of the table.

"How would you fill a cup of coffee with T-SQL?"
"Get a good job using it, hire an assistant, and tell them to get me one."

"If you were going to hold a parade in our office, what would it be like?"
"Is this place family friendly? If not, Mardi Gras. If so, Mickey Mouse. Either way, I'll be taking a sick day. Not a fan of them."

"If you were a tree, what would you be?"
"Not having this interview."

"Star Wars or Star Trek?"
"Ice Pirates."

I'm more than happy to walk someone through my thought processes if they really want to watch Chaos Theory become a solution. These questions have always simply annoyed me.


Now we see some of the reason for Evil Kraig




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Post #1539389
Posted Friday, February 7, 2014 2:23 PM


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Miles Neale (2/7/2014)
If I respond to the question with "You got to be joking" or Wrong Tool For the Wrong Thing" I will not be scored and will not get any points for that response.


That is not necessarily correct. Maybe the question is intentionally using the wrong tool for the job and they want to know if you know that and have the courage to suggest a better alternative and be able to back it up.

I have been asked some of the most absurd questions ever. Here is one. I was referred to a small consulting company by a good friend. We will call him "Max". He told me this company was looking for somebody and secured me an interview. I met the guy at a Starbucks a few blocks from this office. This seemed a little bizarre but whatever. He showed up about 10-15 minutes late, just before I was going to leave. Already this is a rather strange interview. After we met and he joined me at the table with his cup of coffee he just sat there and stared at me for at least 30 seconds. No movement at all...I am really kind of wondering what I got myself into here. He then asks, "So, are you as smart as Max?". I figured out where this was going quickly. I sat there and stared at him for almost a full minute to the point where he was starting to twitch a little. I then unloaded big long string of gibberish about it depends on what we call smart, what the topic is etc etc etc. After the initial BS the interview went very smoothly. I ended up working there for 5 years but I will never forget how bizarre that one was.


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Post #1539399
Posted Friday, February 7, 2014 2:50 PM
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Sean Lange (2/7/2014)
Miles Neale (2/7/2014)
If I respond to the question with "You got to be joking" or Wrong Tool For the Wrong Thing" I will not be scored and will not get any points for that response.


That is not necessarily correct. Maybe the question is intentionally using the wrong tool for the job and they want to know if you know that and have the courage to suggest a better alternative and be able to back it up.


Sean, I responded to this as one who has sat on the other side of the table, the side that asks those kinds of questions. I did not write the questions but have been told in every case that if the person does not attempt to respond to the question as posed, the value of the response is zero. In every case for each of the panels the idea is will the person answer the question as posed, and after, once they have made a good faith effort to answer, they then may question the validity of the question.

A response where both bases are covered tells more. First I will do as you ask showing humility, respect, and showing that I will take direction no matter how silly it might seem to me; but I will also question the question showing that I have a bit of spunk and am not intimidated even if the job or being hired for the job depends on it.

M.


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Post #1539411
Posted Friday, February 7, 2014 2:57 PM


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Miles Neale (2/7/2014)
Sean Lange (2/7/2014)
Miles Neale (2/7/2014)
If I respond to the question with "You got to be joking" or Wrong Tool For the Wrong Thing" I will not be scored and will not get any points for that response.


That is not necessarily correct. Maybe the question is intentionally using the wrong tool for the job and they want to know if you know that and have the courage to suggest a better alternative and be able to back it up.


Sean, I responded to this as one who has sat on the other side of the table, the side that asks those kinds of questions. I did not write the questions but have been told in every case that if the person does not attempt to respond to the question as posed, the value of the response is zero. In every case for each of the panels the idea is will the person answer the question as posed, and after, once they have made a good faith effort to answer, they then may question the validity of the question.

A response where both bases are covered tells more. First I will do as you ask showing humility, respect, and showing that I will take direction no matter how silly it might seem to me; but I will also question the question showing that I have a bit of spunk and am not intimidated even if the job or being hired for the job depends on it.

M.


That sounds to me like some people need to find more work to do. They are obviously spending way too much brain power over analyzing interview questions.

What is the point of the score? Do they offer positions based on score alone or does the score somehow figure into the salary offer? I know the hiring process is not an easy one. I have been on both sides of the table about equally. What you are describing sounds like I would want to run out of the interview screaming. It really sounds like they want to remove all personality from the process and give a standardized test.


_______________________________________________________________

Need help? Help us help you.

Read the article at http://www.sqlservercentral.com/articles/Best+Practices/61537/ for best practices on asking questions.

Need to split a string? Try Jeff Moden's splitter.

Cross Tabs and Pivots, Part 1 – Converting Rows to Columns
Cross Tabs and Pivots, Part 2 - Dynamic Cross Tabs
Understanding and Using APPLY (Part 1)
Understanding and Using APPLY (Part 2)
Post #1539413
Posted Friday, February 7, 2014 3:09 PM
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Sean Lange (2/7/2014)
That sounds to me like some people need to find more work to do. They are obviously spending way too much brain power over analyzing interview questions.

What is the point of the score? Do they offer positions based on score alone or does the score somehow figure into the salary offer? I know the hiring process is not an easy one. I have been on both sides of the table about equally. What you are describing sounds like I would want to run out of the interview screaming. It really sounds like they want to remove all personality from the process and give a standardized test.


Short answer is "Government".


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Post #1539415
Posted Friday, February 7, 2014 3:43 PM


Grasshopper

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Miles Neale (2/7/2014)
...If we give some wisecrack as a response, the potential employer might see us as arrogant and a non-team player.


Or just not serious about the position. If the oddball questions are posed during an interview, you can ask about the oddball questions. I think I would do that after giving a straight answer. Wisecracks are not an option. If it is some sort of timed and scored written test, well, I guess what you do depends on how badly you still want/need the job.

I regard an interview as a two-way process. I interview them while they interview me. I wouldn't reject a job because of an oddball question, but I would want to understand what they were doing. I do sometimes reject jobs up front when I see patterns in the job ads that tend to go with a messed-up work environment (then again; sometimes I don't-maybe the ad is just poorly written). With that kind of pre-weeding, so far, oddball questions haven't been an issue.
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