114

What is the absolutely worst job interview question that you've been asked?
What did you answer? Did you get the job?

156

"Tell me three faults of yours."

I hate it. I wish I answered: "I kill people. I worship Satan. I'm cannibal." I replied something different, and I didn't get the job.

110

Interviewer: Are you married? Do you have any children?

Me: Aren't those questions illegal?

Interviewer: Oh, I just want to make sure you're a good fit for our team.

...

Same Interviewer: Are you willing to work on a trial basis for 6 weeks before we pay you? I require this of all my engineering hires because I only want to hire engineers who are confident in their abilities.

103 accepted

They asked me if I smoked pot in Amsterdam, and yes I got the job.

98

Interviewer: Can you start now?

Me: What like, NOW, now...

Interviewer: Yes

83
  1. Are you available to work overtime?
  2. Can you work on saturdays?

Yes, I truly believe that working less enhances productivity.

76

Years ago I submitted to The Daily WTF an experience I had interviewing somebody for a programming position:

"How often do you read tech-related news and blogs online?" I asked

"Well, technology isn't really changing," he replied, "the more things change, the more we realize they stay the same."

I restated the question. "Okay, but how often do you read tech news to keep up with the latest in security exploits and application compromising?"

"Well, applications will always have security holes" he said.

It was the long way to say "I don't read tech news," so I moved on and posed a simple question: "If you were presented with a SQL-injection bug that allowed unfettered access to any user's account, how would you go about fixing this problem?"

"Well, if you're using Windows," he replied, "these problems will always be around."

Perhaps that's the long way of saying "I don't know." I tried another question: "how familiar are you with the .NET Framework?"

"Well," he said hesitantly, "to be honest, I didn't want to pay the subscription fee for it so I never was able to download it."

"Subscription fee," I questioned, "you know it's a free download, right?"

"Oh," he said, a bit confused, "neat! They must have changed that."

59

Personally I hate the stupid questions you are expected to lie on such as "Why do you want to leave your current position?" Honestly, if you tell the truth on this one you have little chance of getting the job. What bothers me is that they expect you to lie and therefore they are giving preference to employees who lie well.

51

My absolute worst was: Have you ever written code to bypass a pop-up blocker?

This was for a position at a web advertising agency, the job description was "Create an maintain applications for managing online marketing campaigns." I should have known better...

Needless to say, I didn't take that job when it was offered.

46

I can't remember exactly, it was some time ago, but it went something like:

Interviewer: Can you tell me a little about variable naming conventions?

Me: Well there is Hungarian notation, and then there......

Interviewer: Huh! I've never heard of Hungarian, what's that?

In the end I declined the job

46

"Where do you see yourself in five years"

This is the IT industry, not a lot of folk will be on the same gig five years later. Do you really want me to answer that?

43

"Will you mind if your colleagues mock your accent?"

37

"What are you like when you're drunk?"

37

I've had quite a few unconventional ones:

  • Who's hotter: Jessica Alba or Scarlett Johansson? [I said Scarlett.]
  • Apples or oranges? ["Tangerines."]
  • How quickly can you tie shoelaces? [Never figured out where this one was going.]
  • Are you ambidextrous? ["Yes, for some things." The interview looked disappointed when I said that I was.]
  • Do you ever wake up in the morning, look in the mirror, and say "f--- my life?" ["... No, not really." I think he was having a bad day.]
36

"You're re-designing this floor of this building. How do you decide to equip the restrooms?"

The problem wasn't the question - as a test of how you a programmer thinks, it's fine.

The problem was this guy had a "right" answer in mind for this, and wasn't satisfied with anything else, even if it worked.

It turns out I know a lot about this exact problem, having supervised an office building build-out a few years before. In most places in the U.S., that's governed by the local building code. You get info like the square footage and expected occupancy, and look it up. The code gives you how many mens' rooms and how many women's rooms, and how many toilets and urinals and sinks to put in each. You can add more if you want. That is a definitive answer.

But he didn't like that. So I started doing the Feynman-esque estimation thing, but every time I came up with an assumption to base the estimate on (X people, Y square feet), or a resource to get valid information from (look at similar buildings), he told me to toss it out. As a programmer with academic and professional backgrounds in theoretical mathematics and chemistry, I tried the entire range of estimation schemes from airy-fairy to eminently-practical, but nothing I came up with made him satisfied. It was a profoundly unsatisfying experience for both of us.

There were other problems with other interviewers there, too. After multiple hours of interviews, they never even gave me the courtesy of a call to let me know they didn't want me. A current co-worker I esteem had worked there, and he said, "Bob, you are so lucky you didn't get that gig!"

34

I remember some commenter on The Daily WTF that said that he would randomly throw out an Airplane! quote (e.g. "Do you like movies about gladiators?"), with the comment that "if they didn't get the reference, I would move on, and that would tell me something about their personality."

I would love to get turned down for a job because I haven't seen their favorite movie.

28

"Do you want a baby?"

27

Interviewer: How do you make Smarties?
Me: I guess you'd spray the candy shells onto cooled chocolate.
Interviewer: But the chocolate would melt.
Me: You could build it up in layers.
Interviewer: That still wouldn't work.
waste a few minutes in further suggestions, such as free fall, finally giving up
Interviewer: No, the chocolate is refrigerated first then the shell is sprayed on in layers.

They turned me down, as 'although I was technically very strong, I didn't answer the puzzle questions well enough'. A few weeks later, after I'd got another contract paying twice as much, they called back and offered the job after all. I declined.

(you have to cool chocolate production lines anyway, since the machinery generates heat)

25

The worst and most irrelevant question I have been asked is: Are you a vegan?

And after the interview, I was sure I didn't want to work there even if they offered me tha job.

25

"How would you determine how many gas stations a town needs?"

That's a question Microsoft uses.

25

Once when I'd applied for a job at a University, I had to fill out a long questionaire filled with questions like:

"When was a time that you had a difficult job situation, and how were you able to resolve it?"

So I put down a fairly stock (but true) answer, and moved on.

When I was called in for my interview, the interviewer calls me into his office and has me sit down. He then opens up a folder, pulls out the original questionaire that I filled out WITH MY ANSWERS ON IT, and asks (reading off the questionaire):

"When was a time that you had a difficult job situation, and how were you able to resolve it?"

What the heck? Can't he read? Does he want me to come up another example? Does he not believe that I wrote the original? Does he think I can't remember? What on earth does this guy want?

So I figure, okay...I say something along the lines of "Well, as I stated in the questionaire, blah blah blah...", briefly outlining what I said before, and follow up with, "...but another example might be blah blah blah..." where I went into another example.

The guy looks at me like I'm speaking in Swahili.

I finish up. He shakes his head slowly and sadly a few times as though alternating between pity and confusion. He asks me three more questions from the questionaire, then thanks me for my time and lets me know that they'll let me know soon.

They never bothered getting back to me.

To this day, I have no idea what on earth this guy wanted from me.

24

The worst (I'm always asked): Where Do You See Yourself in N Years? (where N is variable).

I find it as the most annoying question that can be asked.

24

If you were a cereal, what kind of cereal would you be and why?
Answer: Golden Grahams
Job offered: No

23

Interviewer: Tell me about Collections (in Java).

Me: It's a framework for data structures.

Interviewer: Can you name them all?

Clearly, I failed to name all of the collections from memory. I still got the job anyways.

From the moment I heard that question, I should have known that it was a reverse interview.

22

It's not the worst but I did get asked once:

What is the difference between the private and public keywords?

To which I answered the obvious solution, to which the interviewer sighed with relief and stated:

You know, out of the four people to come here today you're the first to get that question right!

OMG! WhoTF were the other applicants? Potential cleaners that had got wandered into the wrong interview room?

22

If there was a problem, what steps would you take to solve it?

Naturally, I said "it depends... is it an IT problem? A car accident? A drinking problem? ... etc."

The interviewer refused to narrow the scope and left it a "general problem", whatever the hell that is.

I could tell he was not happy with my "general answer" of "try to solve it, if I can't solve it on my own find someone or some others who can."

Really, how are you supposed to even answer this?

21

Him : "Are you available tomorrow?, we need someone to represents the developer group in a meeting with a potential client"

And It was clear (because of the rest of the interview) that I was supposed to say yes, for free and that I would not be hired after that.

20

"What are your strengths and weaknesses?"

I listed "bad attitude" and "problems with authority" as strengths and got the job. It was that kind of place. :)

19

Worst question:

Does it bother you to work with girls?

It was a serious question, not a joke, I looked at them confused and said of course not!. This was three years ago today I'm still wondering wtf?

Luckily I didn't got the job, after that I met some guys in my current job that worked there who told me that it was an awful company.

18

the one where they are asking you a legit question but they accidently spit when they talk and a little piece of spit lands on your face. should you wipe it off or what? I DONT KNOW IT S JUST SO AWKWARD!!!!!!!!

15

I got asked the eight pool balls question (see below). I'm quite annoyed at these sorts of questions as they really don't test your ability to solve real world problems in a reasonable time. The guy interviewing me got annoyed when I said I had heard it before, still insisting I answer the question. I was 45 at the time with over 25 years of solid experience. Look at my CV, don't ask me stupid puzzle questions,

The puzzle: You have eight pool balls, all identical looking, but one is slightly lighter. you have a balance scales that you can use twice only, how can you find the light ball?

14

About six months ago I interviewed at an online loan brokerage firm (software engineering department). The question that stumped me was "Why do you want to work in an industry that's obviously in so much trouble?" At the time it seemed like things might rebound, but in retrospect I'm glad I didn't get that job.

14

My worst question asked ever:

What are the different types of encapsulation?

Nothing about how is encapsulation useful or how will I try to implement it in a particular problem but the theoretical definition and the types of encapsulation.

I believe that that was the end of the interview for me.

12

What football team do you support ?

12

Interviewer leads me to his office... (insert small talk here)... I look around... he has numerous swords hanging on the wall... he says, "Take a seat." I take a seat.

He says, "Are you intimidated?"

I respond, "I'll see myself to the door."

And I left.

12

I don't have a particular one, but for me, questions that the interviewer can answer by reading my resume shouldn't be asked. For example, a couple of weeks ago I had an interview with an Indian guy, and here's a part of it:

Interviewer: what do you know about a data type called varchar2?

Me: do you mean varchar(2)-pronounced varchar of 2?

Interviewer: No, varchar2

Me: No, never heard of it. He looked at me, handed me my resume saying "Alright, I'm finished, you can take this".

Later when I searched I found out that varchar2 is a data type only for Oracle's P-SQL, and I never mentioned anything about Oracle in my resume.

12

I was asked a given some long math equation and asked what is represented. I replied "I have no idea what that represents, I am assuming its something relative to your industry."

I got the job.

12

"Write an algorithm that, given an integer, produces the next highest integer with the same number of the same digits".

I immediately gave him the "brute force" answer, but it turns out that for some integers, there is no answer. I was not only expected to know this, I was expected to figure out how to write the algorithm to recognize when there was no answer.

I was told I should apply for a job commensurate with my programming ability.

Strangely, I haven't needed to be up on properties of positional number systems in over 30 years...

11

This was for a high end C# position and I was asked what the "new kind of FOR loop" was in C#.

10

For an IT job I was asked how many knots I could tie, and which was my favorite, and why.

10

Why have you became a software developer?

How the hell I supposed to answer this one? I bumped my head into the wall when I was a toddler? No, seriously, I don't know.

10

Do you have a brother?

Do you love him?

I've just thought how in the world is this question relevant to anything? I was offered the job and declined it of course.

10

"Can you do visual basics?" - Note: The pluralisation is intentional.

9

Not a question, but at an interview I was asked: "Stand up and cluck like a chicken".

8

Someone once asked my wife "How many fingers do you have?" during a phone interview.

At a retail sales job, my manager asked a guy we were interviewing, "When do you quit taking your medication?" The guy looked dumbfounded for a moment, looked down and then answered, "Oh, about 2 weeks ago."

8

Once on the interview, after some casual and tech. conversation, the guy asked me how much I can drink in one evening. It seemed to be very important, not to him (he didn't drink) but for the job. It turned out that the job was in Ireland, and the guy managing the local team there failed completely because the team was regularly going to the pubs after work.. that guy didn't survive the project and team members didn't like him.

I turned down that offer.. :)

7

"Show me how you would write a hash table in C#". It has been a while since I've ever had to roll my own so I asked what was wrong with the existing implementation. "It's too slow". So I asked if they were really worried about speed why use C# at all. I turned the job down.

As for "How do you move Mount Fuji" well that's simple, tell it a really heart wrenching story ....

7

How many ways can you measure a building with a barometer?

My answers were things like
1) use the barometer as a measuring stick,
2) throw the barometer off the building and count how long it takes to hit the ground, and
3) sell the barometer and use the money to buy a measuring stick.

I got a job offer but didn't take it (thankfully, since the company was out of business within a couple of years).

I hate these types of questions because it's hard to see how they do a good job measuring programming skills. I also hate the brain teaser questions and questions like "how much water flows past the St. Louis Arch everyday" or "how much gas is consumed in Texas everyday".

7

"Please tell me all the design patterns that you know, and what they are used for"

All of them? Really?

6

What is the syntax to create a database in SQL Server?

6

At a consultancy, I was asked: "Which servers do you know?"

6

Which one between batman and spider-man is the best superhero?

Spend 10-15 minutes discussing the answer. Got the job, still there after 5 years!

6

I was applying for a stock position (pay was greater than being a cashier) at a major retail company over 5 years ago, I was asked "Can you count past 50?" Of course, I answered Yes. They called me few months after the interview to offer me the job, but I had already found a job by then.

Sad part is, there had to have been someone who worked there at one time who couldn't.

6

Q: What do you think is the most common misconception that other people have about you?
A: Wouldn't the answer possibly be a misconception that I have about other people?

Unfortunately it wasn't a trick question.

5

It's not even a question, it's a command:

"So, tell me about yourself."

It was just the interviewer basically admitting they haven't prepared anything, and I'm going to be doing all the work.

5

Do you like to cuss a lot? Because we cuss a lot.

I don't usually cuss, and I can imagine an employer not wanting someone to cuss. But requiring someone to cuss? Seriously?

5

The worst question I had:

Interviewer: Do you have a PC in your house?

Me: ?!!@$$??

5

If there was a box on the floor right here [pointing to the ground next to himself] and I told you to pick it up and set it on this desk, what would you do?

I said, "Stand up, walk to the box, bend at the knees and pick up the box and put it on the desk".

It was the last question he asked, and after my answer he immediately said "Thanks, we'll be in touch". No joke, 6 months later I was offered the job. Declined, of course...

5

What is the worst mistake you have made? How did you manage it (cover it up)?

4

After being given the company overview and their custom PHP based CMS, the head programmer asked me, "How do you feel about PHP functions?"

It seemed like a silly question at the time. I answered by talking about procedural vs. OO paradigms, passing by reference and values, and the pro's and con's of PHP style function overloading.

It made sense when later I found out the position was to convert PSD mockups into HTML and then place the template PHP calls in. They just wanted to know if I could call a PHP function. Needless to say, I did not take that job.

4

Q: If you could be any animal, what would it be? A: Giraffe (it just popped into my head, but I am just 5 foot 9)

I didn't get the job but this answer did not rule me out and apparently was comparatively normal compared to some they received, e.g. snake.

4

I was being interviewed for a startup doing web development and there were two interviewers, though one of them looked distracted most of the time.

Interviewer: So, tell us a little about yourself.

Me: (about 3 minutes of brief intro).

awkward silence

Me: (another minute)

awkward silence

Interviewer: Could you tell us a little more?

Me: (thinking wtf... Is there a right answer that I'm supposed to arrive at?)


Later on in the interview I had the opportunity to ask some questions.

Me: So what kind of site are you planning on building?

Interviewer: Well, we will be building sites for clients.

Me: Oh? So what kind of companies are you expecting to work with?

Interviewer: Various...

Me: uh..... well are you thinking of large companies or small companies?

Interviewer: Various...

Me: Well, how many developers are you planning on hiring:

Interviewer: Around 5.


In the end I left thinking it would be a horrible job and stayed where I was. I was also pretty sure they weren't going to offer me the job but a few months later they called me out of the blue to offer the position. I declined. They called again the next day. I declined again.

I just couldn't see myself working in a place that had virtually no business plan beyond dispatching developers to other companies willy-nilly.

4

What is the agile method?

4

I went for an interview with a financial trading system start up in London and spoke to their IT director for around half an hour.

He then asked me if I could be in Stockholm on Monday (it was Wednesday).

I thought to myself, this is one of those trick questions so I said, "Yes".

He replied with "Great!. I'll get my secretary to contact you this evening with flight details. Good to have you on board".

I was gobsmacked.. We hadn't even discussed pay, holidays etc etc but I called in sick where I was working and took the flight to Stockholm.

It was the best career move I've ever made. The company was bought out by a major competitor and I made a shed load of cash..... :)

3

It's the question they ask where you find out you've just been set up by the agency in a 'bait-and-switch' scam.

3

What is my favorite TV show?

Seriously.

3

Them: What would you say your fellow employees would say about you if asked?
Me: I don't know. Why don't you ask them?
Them: We're asking you.
Me: o_0

3

How do you feel about working 12 hour days 6 days a week? We're only looking for hard workers.

3

Going for a Web Dev position I was asked 1 technical question: "What languages do you do?"

I answered: "PHP, JavaScript, XHTML, CSS"

No other technical questions followed...I got the job.

3

I could tell the interviewer was really keen to hire someone highly productive when he asked me: "can you type quickly?"

2

"How would you determine how many gas stations a town needs?"

This was from a manager who asked several "creative-thinking-outside-the-box" puzzle questions during the interview. Once I heard this question, I knew I didn't want to work for him.

2

"Pulp Fiction or Reservoir Dogs?"

2

Two questions I've been asked:

How many piano tuners are there in Cape Town?

How many one hundred rand notes are there at 12pm in a shopping mall?

I got the questions "right" (meaning they agreed with my rationale), but I thought those were terrible questions simply because of the number of variables that could affect the answer. Clearly they didn't give the question much thought themselves, because they kept telling me to ignore certain things when I asked about them. They should state all assumptions up front, rather than let the interviewee waste time travelling dead ends to an almost exponential number of answers.

2

Getting asked a specific nitty-gritty question off the top of your head. Like some nuance in a language that the interviewer is proficient at...

The bad part is, I've listened to top-tier corporations think this is what makes a good programmer. :/

2

I was once asked if I had any food allergies.

2

"If your life philosophy were a bumper sticker, what would it say?"

2

Some years ago, in one of my firsts job interviews.

"What do you need to make your job?"

I was a little confused, so I said "I write code, so I can work with an old tv and a spectrum"

then she clarify the question: "I mean, what things of your workplace make you feel confortable and make you a productive worker?"

then i said "eeehhh of course... eeeeh A window and a cactus..."

and I was working there for more than a year.

2

Just saw this thread and wanted to share my experience with an interviewee.

I asked someone:

"what is the difference between abstract class and an interface?"

He replied:

"Those questions are not a big deal, google is life saver now for everyone, I can do whatever you ask with the help of google !"

(He was not selected of course)

1

LOL @Quarrelsome
I must admit, I've been to several now where I've been asked fundamental questions and had a similar response. my favourite though was being asked in one interview what freebie defaults you get with a C++ compiler (i.e. don't have to be explicitly declared) and I couldn't answer fully (I got default constructor and destructor). and i didn't get the job (mainly due to thier 5 page long list of programming trivia Q's and I was too expensive - my friend got the job and said it was the worst place he's ever been....
Anyway, the next day I had another interview at another place, and got the same Question.... only this time i knew the answer....

along with getting a better design focused interview and a better rapport, I got the job, which I left after 9 months due to bad design practices overall! (they had none - cigarette pack specs would have been a dream...)

1

After running out of relevant questions within minutes, my (male) boss asked a (female) interviewee, "So, you're married? how many kids? what grades are they in?" and that continued for quite a few minutes...
I had to step in and ask more relevant questions, even though I'd already made up my mind (it was a no, but ABSOLUTELY nothing to do with his questions.... she was decent, but not quite brilliant.)

Lucky for me I was already on my way out... Getting to interview your replacement can actually be an interesting experience :D

1

Not a question, but when interviewers constantly Umm before asking questions. Makes me feel like they didn't even have the decency to prepare properly for the interview.

1

I was given one line of very condensed C++ code and the question was, does this compile?

IMO, it alwasys depends on the compiler, if something compiles or not.

1

How many brothers and sisters do you have?

Why don't you leave this position for someone more backward/deserving/needy?

1

It isn't actually from my work history but its hilarious anyway. From Trainspotting by Danny Boyle based on Irvine Welsh novel:

WOMAN

Mr. Murphy, {leaving your friend aside,} do you see yourself as having any weaknesses?

SPUD

No. Well, yes. I have to admit it: I'm a perfectionist. For me, it's the best or nothing at all. If things go badly, I can't be bothered, but I have a good feeling about this interview. Seems to me like it's gone pretty well. We've touched on a lot of subjects, a lot of things to think about, for all of us.

MAN 1

Thank you, Mr. Murphy. We'll let you know.

SPUD

The pleasure was mine. Best interview I've ever been to. Thanks. Spud crosses the room to shake everyone by the hand and kiss them.

You can find full scene on youtube

0

went for an interview with a large services company - and when I was there I explained that I had dyslexia.

The question was - "How do you think that will affect the revenue of my team?"

I replied = with the not at all and then asked never to be called again.

0

This is not really a question, it was more of a requirement. I was looking for a job a few months ago and I stumbled at this:

We need a programmer with blah blah (regular requirements) and a great sense of style.

What did they mean? Not sure, but they sure made it sound like a good fashion style or something like that. Of course, I didn't call them =P

0

I was asked this question while interviewing for a programming job at the Indian office of a company which shares its name with a famous public-key cryptography algorithm:

Q: "Say you don't like garbage collection in Java, what would you do?"

I still don't know the answer. The answers I tried unsuccessfully include:

  • Use another JVM
  • Use another language with manual memory management
  • Declare a large array and manage your own memory
0

How do you test a salt shaker?

I answered the question for about 5 minutes. But the interviewer pressed me to continue. I had to come up with creative ideas for the next 10 minutes. It was about 15 minutes that felt like hours and hours.

0

Interviewer: Where do you see yourself in the next five years?

Me: Not working here.

My arrogance wasn't taken lightly.

I get what the interviewer wanted to know. I just felt that he didn't have any real questions and that that one was a waste of both our time.

0

At the end of the interview

Interviewer: Did you like the interview? Can you give me any suggestions so that I could improve in future?