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IT Job Candidates: Who's Asking the Toughest Questions?

By CIOinsight  |  Posted 10-25-2010 Print
Think your interview process is tough on job applicants? Check out the kinds of questions major technology companies are asking of their prospective employees.

Next time you're considering a new hire, you may want to take a page from some of the major technology firms. Enterprises such as Apple, Google and Microsoft expect prospective employees to answer a range of intriguing questions. Some of these, of course, are function-specific. For example, it's no surprise that Dell would ask an aspiring senior product manager this question: "If you were going to launch a smartphone into the market, how would you do it?"

Others, however, are clearly designed to give a hiring manager insight into the way an employee's mind works when it comes to skills such as problem solving, creative thinking, and logic.

For example, if the same job candidate wants to be a senior product manager at Yahoo, however, he or she had better be ready with a response to this one: "Estimate the volume of water on the Earth."

A candidate applying for a senior engineer position at Microsoft, meanwhile, had best be able to "find the anagrams in a dictionary."

CIO Insight sister publication eWeek worked with recruitment site Glassdoor.com to compile real-world job interview ratings and data submitted by prospective workers at 12 of the top technology firms in the U.S. The list includes Amazon, Apple, Facebook, Google, Intel, Microsoft. Information from these prospective employees includes: How difficult were the questions, and how positive or negative was the job interview experience at these companies? There is also a sampling of interesting, offbeat and unpredictable job interview questions that were asked.

Among our favorites (and the jobs for which they were posed):

  • If you are asked to design an elevator, what are some things to consider? (Amazon.com project manager)
  • Why are manhole covers round? (Cisco Systems commodity manager)
  • Describe an orange (Hewlett-Packard software engineer)

Finally, Glassdoor looked at which companies were rated by candidates as having the most difficult job interviews and which were rated as having the best interview experience. Among the 12 companies profiled, Amazon.com and Google were ranked as having the most difficult interviews. The company rated as having the most positive interview experience? Apple.

For more, read the eWeek article IT Management: Apple, Google, Microsoft IT Job Applicants Tell All.


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