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Sample Interview Questions From Google and Microsoft

August 18th, 2008 · 4 Comments

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Google and Microsoft have long been famous (notorious?) for their rigorous interview process. For years we’ve heard legendary 2nd-hand stories about the Rube Goldberg interview questions and the GMAT-like testing gauntlet that applicants have to endure.

The Royal Pingdom blog has scraped together some interview questions that applicants claim they have been asked by Microsoft and Google hiring managers. What does it teach us?

Well, it teaches me that I’d never stand a chance.

Some of the questions are the sort of “if a train leaves from Boston going 70mph…” type of math questions that I can never quite wrap my mind around. For example, this one from Microsoft:

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?

Well, I suppose that is something I could figure out given enough time. Or, at least, I can imagine that a reasonably educated person could figure that sort of question out.

But some of the questions from Google seem downright otherworldly. A question like this one requires… I dunno… knowledge of super-hero physics?:

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?

And then there are the downright geekish questions, like this one:

Describe a chicken using a programming language.

That one might be fun to answer, come to think of it.

P.S., click through to the link to see a funny example of a potential Ikea interview session. It’s the cartoon at the bottom.

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Tags: Interviewing

  • Jodith

    The google question isn’t that hard. You’re the height of a nickle. If you’re the only thing in the blender, just lay down and let the blades spin over you. Heck, you might not even have to lay down.

    Most of these questions are designed to see how well you think. The important thing is not to let them throw you and just think about it.

    One of my coworkers when I was doing tech support always asked potential hires to describe how to make a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. The test here, of course, we to see how well the person could walk someone through a task that seems fairly basic, but may not be to the person you are talking to.

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  • Seattle Interview Coach

    Nice article!

    By the way, I’ve put together 140 Google interview questions. Your readers might find it helpful.

    Check it out:

    – Seattle Interview Coach

  • Di1cc

    How do you respond to a interviewer that say “In all my career years I have only been out of work for 3 months” (interviewer is well in her 60s), and then she goes on to say “I guess it’s going to take you about 4 or 5 weeks to get up to speed since you have been unemployed for a while”.