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Clown Questions

Updated 04/22/2017

  Sometimes you wondered what type
  of company hires Clowns like this.

  The Science of Interviewing has matured
  over time yet candidates still encounter
  some "really stupid questions" that they
  refused to answer; they are dumb things
  to ask.  Agreed, we have all been asked
  some really crazy questions that were
  in fashion once.  But questions have
  improved are carry importance to the
  employer in their selection process.

  The secret is very simple:
        If you are asked a legitimate question and fail to make an effort to answer the
        question you, most likely, voluntarily terminated your candidacy.

SO ... what flavor of ice cream should I say I am?  What do they want to hear?

        Fortunately, questions for the most part, with comparisons to ice cream, nuts, zoo
        animals, and fruitcakes made with environmentally friendly water are now behind
        us.  Questions carry greater merit into how you will react in certain situations found
         at work.

   In a world of increasing challenges, companies need "all hands on deck" to solve
   challenges that aren't in our Junior High School textbooks.  It requires application
   of problem-solving skills using a broad array of knowledge and prior experiences
   to meet the challenge.

   In presenting a totally "off the wall, crazy, stupid question" the Interviewer has just
   presented a task that you, most likely, have never encountered before and thus it
   is essential you create a process to meet the challenge.

   Here is the secret to this question:
A viable solution is NOT REQUIRED; THEY NEED to hear you build a solution process.

   Here are some examples and how they can trap people:

    1.  The Quarters Question
         When laid flat, how many quarters does it take to equal the height of the
         Empire State Building?
        Some often heard answers include:
            a)  Who cares?
            b)  You can't stack that many quarters without it falling over.
            c)  I dunno.
            d)  Who gives a s**t?  I don't live there!  That's one stupid question!
            The above, and comparable responses, will end your chance for this position.

A response that will keep you in the competition can be:
            "First, are we including the antenna atop the building or not?"
                This shows you are drawing on your knowledge to define the problem and may
                 have been something no one else asked thus showing your initiative.
            "I don't know how tall the building is but I can do a web search for that."
                Shows you can get around an important unknown using available information.
            "I don't know how thick a quarter is but the US Mint or the web will have it."
                Again showing the ability to obtain unknown information from known sources.                    "Once I have these values I can divide the height of the building by the
             thickness of the quarter and have an answer."
                You confirmed how to finish the challenge by doing elementary school math.           

    2.  The Marshmallow Question
         How many Stay Puft traditional sized marshmallows would it take to fill a 1964
 standard US sized "Beetle" with a moonroof, an AM/FM/Cassette
        player and a standard 4-speed floor mounted stick transmission?

         A response that will keep you in the competition can be:
            "I can all Volkswagon and get that information but it may take some time."
                Set expectations that the information is likely available but it is not something
                 that may be available quickly or on short notice.  But it shows you're thinking.
            "I can Stay Puft about the dimensions of their traditional sized marshmallows.
             Am I correct in assuming compression is not a required factor for this need?"
                Since this is something that COULD be physically done, we need to know if any
                 compression factor for the weight of each marshmallow will cause the volume
                 of the marshmallow to change and thus change the quantity required.  It also
                 confirms your knowledge of an alternative information source which may NOT be
                 something posted on an Internet site.
            "Floor mats will displace some of the volume; is that a factor to be considered?"
                Demonstrates continued thinking through this problem for the accuracy of your
                 findings and you have a sense of concern for details in your work.
            "Once I have these values I can calculate the compression, volume and then
             determine the marshmallow quantity required to meet your needs."
                You confirmed how to finish the challenge by doing junior high school math.

    3.  The Nine Balls Question
         There are nine metal balls which look and feel alike yet one is heavier.  You have
        a two pan scale to determine which ball is the heaviest.  What is the minimum
        number of weighings required to find the heaviest ball?

         A response that will keep you in the competition can be:
            "Theoretically it is possible to determine this, with luck, on the first weighing
             for if the pans are balanced, with four balls in each pan, the heaviest ball is the
             is the one on the table making the minimal number of tries ONE."
The information below is added value to you should it also be asked:

             Assuming with the odds against us with luck alone, I will randomly select four
             balls of the nine for the first pan, another four for the second."
                If the heaviest ball was NOT in the eight selected, the scale will show the
                 pans are balanced.  Therefore it is possible the heaviest ball is found in the first
                 try making that the minimum number of possible tries.  However continue with
                 the discussion to show a complete through process and presumption that 'dumb
                 luck" may not be a valid assumption to have for the first effort.
            "If not balanced, I will discard the four in the higher of the two scale plans then
                remove two balls from the lower pan for placement in the other scale pan."
                By virtue of this weighing, we know the ball not weighed is not the heaviest.
                 This effort will determine which pan with two balls has the heaviest ball.
            "A final weighing is required to determine the ball in the heaviest pan."
                The lowest hanging pan contains the heaviest ball.
            "Your question was the minimal number of tries, as as stated that was one.  To
             show my total thought process .
           Many people, when asked this question, will provide the MAXIMUM number of
           attempts to find the heaviest ball because of the question wording.  While the
           question is not misleading, we automatically jump to an assumption all of the
           balls must be weighted to reach the MINIMUM number of weights.

           This is a test not of your logical thinking or ability to provide a process but to
           listen to and think through the problem before answering.

    The secret to answering these questions is to:
       a)  reaffirm you heard the question correctly and have not left anyting out.
       b)  think about the problem before blerting out your first answer.
       c)  organize your answer to explain you through process just in case
            you're wrong!  Having the correct answer is ideal but having the
            thought process to solve the problem is nearly as important.