Companies That Give Job Candidates Hell During The Interview Process

August 14, 2013  |  

In an interview, could you come up with a satisfactory answer for this question: “What is the total surface area of a Boeing 747?” You’re not alone if you feel stumped. This question was posed to a candidate vying for a position at ZS Associates, one of the top 25 companies that give the most difficult job interviews, reports Forbes.

The number one company for giving interviewees hell through the screening process is the firm McKinsey & Company, according to Reviewers gave the firm a 3.9 out of 5 rating for difficulty. One candidate in Chicago, who yearned to become a business analyst, revealed that the interview process was “grueling.” “How would you calculate the annual carbon emissions from electric versus gas vehicles in the EU?,” was one of the questions posed to him. It makes you wonder if employers just enjoy making us sweat.

Rolling in second place is the global software company ThoughtWorks. With questions like “Tell me a story entitled ‘Green Hat’”, only the candidates that think quickly on their feet can land a job at the company. The interview “consists of a visit to the Chicago office, three exams, an emailed set of questions, a programming problem, and a follow-up interview,” the Huffington Post said.

Google and Facebook are also on the list; they land on No. 8 and No. 25, respectively. Google tested their candidate’s wit with questions like, “How many times a day does a clock’s hands overlap?” The internet corporation’s brutal vetting process spawned a best-selling book titled, Are You Smart Enough to Work at Google?: Trick Questions, Zen-like Riddles, Insanely Difficult Puzzles, and Other Devious Interviewing Techniques You Need to Know to Get a Job Anywhere in the New Economy. Wow! Long title, much?

Thankfully for prospective candidates, Google will be much more lenient in the future. They realized that the brainteasers they throw at interviewees are useless. “‘How many balls can you fit into an airplane?’ ‘How many gas stations in Manhattan?’, A complete waste of time,” confessed Laszlo Bock, Google’s Senior VP of People Operations. “They don’t predict anything. They serve primarily to make the interviewer feel smart.”

Facebook, although less strenuous, has a taxing interview process that lasts an average of 30 days. Their questions, like all the other aforementioned corporations, are just as mind-warping. “How would you add new Facebook members to the database of members, and code their relationship to others in the database?” Uh… is there a Skip-A-Question option?

The purpose of these oddball questions is to see “how candidates organize their thoughts and process them to find a solution,” said Samantha Zupan, a spokesperson for Glassdoor.

She suggests researching and practicing the questions that were asked previously by the company’s employer. “The more due diligence a candidate does ahead of time, the better prepared he or she will feel for the interview.”

Have you ever had a difficult interview? Tell us about it!

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