I was scrolling Twitter the other night, and this ad popped up in my feed.
This was a well placed ad in response to the mass unemployement moving across the country from the covid-19 fallout. The topic of interviewing will no doubt be a popular one in the coming times. With a beer in hand, I decided to get some practice.
Basic interview questions:
1) Tell me about yourself.
My math degree taught me how to add. My CS degree gave me the knowledge to do fizzbuzz. My computer security certificate showed me the difference between http and https and my research papers taught me how to write a complete sentence when communicating. I’m confident I can bring my skills to this company and help you solve your problems.
2) What are your strengths?
I’m motivated to understand how things work.
3) What are your weaknesses?
4) Why do you want this job?
I send out a bunch of resumes and only get a few replies. The illusion of choice. Here we are.
5) Where would you like to be in your career five years from now?
To become experienced enought to move past selling my time for money. To be a part of a value based role.
6) What's your ideal company?
A company that values critical thinking at all levels.
7) What attracted you to this company?
The reply to my application.
8) Why should we hire you?
To avoid wasting more time.
9) What did you like least about your last job?
Not learning anything from my work.
10) When were you most satisfied in your job?
Working autonomously on a technical task that was important to the business.
11) What can you do for us that other candidates can't?
I can do more Leetcode problems to commodify my labor and devalue myself more.
12) What were the responsibilities of your last position?
It was an unrelated role. They involved under cutting other peoples labor. A race to the bottom if you will.
13) Why are you leaving your present job?
To enter a role that uses my education, grows my knowledge, pushes my ability to reason and challenges my intellect.
14) What do you know about this industry?
That interviewing for tech roles is nothing like the job.
15) What do you know about our company?
It was difficult to understand what your company actually does after reading your entire website. It’s usually a cover for e-commerce work.
16) Are you willing to relocate?
If the price is right, Bob.
17) Do you have any questions for me?
Using only this crusty old whiteboard marker with barely any ink, can you please code up the implementation of quicksort for linked lists that is, apparently, so critical to you production environment?
Behavioral interview questions:
18) What was the last project you led, and what was its outcome?
I led a research project during graduate school. Although the outcome of the tool wasn’t spectacular, the process outcome was very valuable. Working as a team, adapting to different personalities and sharing knowledge through out the project building process was very rewarding.
19) Give me an example of a time that you felt you went above and beyond the call of duty at
I blew right past that two beer limit on Friday afternoon.
20) Can you describe a time when your work was criticized?
All the times I didn’t go past that two beer limit on Friday afternoons.
21) Have you ever been on a team where someone was not pulling their own weight? How did you handle
This is often the case of being overwhelmed. I broke down the tasks into smaller parts and worked together on the ones we could to help motivate everyone involved.
22) Tell me about a time when you had to give someone difficult feedback. How did you handle it?
Calmly tell them what they could do to improve and how I could help them.
23) What is your greatest failure, and what did you learn from it?
My greatest failure was not understanding how much blind luck actually effects your path in life. I learned that nepotism will take you far.
24) How do you handle working with people who annoy you?
By avoiding most interactions. You can’t reason with toxic people about their behavior.
25) If I were your supervisor and asked you to do something that you disagreed with, what would you
I would communicate my knowledge about the matter and express my dissent.
26) What was the most difficult period in your life, and how did you deal with it?
The most difficult time in my life was trying to get past the gatekeeping mechanisms of the tech industry. I handled it by learning that my skills were not holding me back. Most jobs are not advertised and are filled by the people you know.
27) Give me an example of a time you did something wrong. How did you handle it?
Doing something wrong isn’t bad. It’s only bad if you don’t learn from it. Making mistakes can be valuable learning experiences.
28) Tell me about a time where you had to deal with conflict on the job.
Most conflicts arise from poor communication and unrealist time constraints. “What do you mean nine women can’t produce a baby in one month?”
29) If you were at a business lunch and you ordered a rare steak and they brought it to you well done,
what would you do?
Eat it. I don’t waste meat and don’t like it when other people do.
30) If you found out your company was doing something against the law, like fraud, what would you
There is a war on people who speak truth to power. I would document my findings and present them to the proper channels. Then, expect to be terminated and embrace it.
31) What assignment was too difficult for you, and how did you resolve the issue?
Any assignment I found too difficult, I immediately voiced my concern about not being able to complete it. This provides the best course change with the least time wasted.
32) What's the most difficult decision you've made in the last two years and how did you come to that
Leaving my last role and starting my current one. Uncertain financial planning made it difficult but the risk was necessary in order to do what I want to do.
33) Describe how you would handle a situation if you were required to finish multiple tasks by the end
of the day, and there was no conceivable way that you could finish them.
I would have a conversation with my manager about how deadlines are arbitrary because changes are complexity multipliers. Driving engineers to an arbitrary date is a value destroying mistake. On time, on budget, meets standards. Pick two.
34) What salary are you seeking?
I was always told to never be the first person to throw out a number. If the application form requires input, I put $1. The idea is to waste as much of your time as possible. Then, get you to make me an offer and then negotiate your low ball salary number into the market rate range found on Glassdoor and Levels.fyi because it’s too expensive for you to let me walk away.
35) What's your salary history?
This is a common wage suppession question and is illegal in some states.
…looks at phone…
“The new law goes into effect on January 1, 2018. Assembly Bill 168 prohibits California employers from asking about an applicant’s prior salary. If an applicant asks, employers are also required to provide a pay range for the job.”
36) If I were to give you this salary you requested but let you write your job description for the next
year, what would it say?
Software engineer IV.
Career development questions:
37) What are you looking for in terms of career development?
To do the best work I can, for it’s own sake. To be creative and not follow others. Not cutting corners for efficiency. Say no to things I would rather not do and never push something I know is defective.
38) How do you want to improve yourself in the next year?
Expand my knowledge and bank account balance.
39) What kind of goals would you have in mind if you got this job?
To eventually make my work a business.
40) If I were to ask your last supervisor to provide you additional training or exposure, what would
Getting started questions:
50) How would you go about establishing your credibility quickly with the team?
Earning the trust of my teammates. Doing the things I said I would do and helping other people with their work.
51) How long will it take for you to make a significant contribution?
It depends how much of the work day is wasted in meetings.
52) What do you see yourself doing within the first 30 days of this job?
Learning the tools for the job and personalities of my coworkers.
53) If selected for this position, can you describe your strategy for the first 90 days?
To ramp up and begin making contributions that are valuable to the business.
More questions about you:
54) How would you describe your work style?
Focused with minimal interruptions. Take breaks when I become saturated.
55) What would be your ideal working environment?
A quiet, library like atmosphere with natural light.
56) What do you look for in terms of culture—structured or entrepreneurial?
An entrepreneurial culture allows for more autonomy, mastery and sense of purpose.
57) Give examples of ideas you've had or implemented.
I implemeted this idea one time where I got up and walked out of an interview after being called a “resource”.
58) What techniques and tools do you use to keep yourself organized?
Creating clear priorities and not having any clutter.
59) If you had to choose one, would you consider yourself a big-picture person or a detail-oriented
60) Tell me about your proudest achievement.
Getting an education with no debt.
61) Who was your favorite manager and why?
Bill. He was in on the scheme, if you know what I mean.
62) What do you think of your previous boss?
You know what they say: Most people don’t leave the job, they leave management.
63) Was there a person in your career who really made a difference?
My best friend.
64) What kind of personality do you work best with and why?
Someone who works more than they talk.
65) What are you most proud of?
Not chasing carrots that people hold over my head.
66) What do you like to do?
To not give you discriminatory information about me.
67) What are your lifelong dreams?
To be head of an HR department one day in charge of creating interview questions. To let my personal bias and emotions help influence my decisions.
68) What do you ultimately want to become?
Wealthy enough to not die poor.
69) What is your personal mission statement?
To be a good person and always put the seat down.
70) What are three positive things your last boss would say about you?
I’m competent, do good work and rarely complain.
71) What negative thing would your last boss say about you?
That I wasn’t willing to work long hours for low pay.
72) What three character traits would your friends use to describe you?
Questions everything, doesn’t believe in ghosts and cares about people.
73) What are three positive character traits you don't have?
The ability to bullshit, pretend I enjoy interviewing and talking about myself.
74) If you were interviewing someone for this position, what traits would you look for?
The person who curses at these questions first is hired. I need to see that passion!
75) List five words that describe your character.
I’m sorry, I forgot to rehearse this answer.
76) Who has impacted you most in your career and how?
77) What is your greatest fear?
Losing my health.
78) What is your biggest regret and why?
Not realizing how important nepotism, networking and luck were earlier in life.
79) What's the most important thing you learned in school?
An education doesn’t lead to a career and hard work doesn’t lead to success. These are two fallacies of academia. The idea that anything is possible if you work hard enough is unfortunately a dangerous delusion. Life is more random than it seems and favorable outcomes are more often attributable to making good bets rather than a good work ethic. Don’t sacrifice more than it’s worth. Nepotism, networking and luck play a large role in the outcomes of our lives. You can do everything right and still lose.
80) Why did you choose your major?
I like to understand how things work and all explainable things in the universe can be mapped to a mathematical concept.
81) What will you miss about your present/last job?
Helping the people I worked with.
82) What is your greatest achievement outside of work?
Racing pro-am motocross.
83) What are the qualities of a good leader? A bad leader?
A good leader is honest, transparent, rational, knowledgeable, values people and leads by example. A bad leader is well…turn on the news.
84) Do you think a leader should be feared or liked?
85) How do you feel about taking no for an answer?
It’s part of life.
86) How would you feel about working for someone who knows less than you?
I always keep my resume up to date.
87) How do you think I rate as an interviewer?
I didn’t walk out yet.
88) Tell me one thing about yourself you wouldn't want me to know.
My labor isn’t free.
89) Tell me the difference between good and exceptional.
Good is “meets expectations” and exceptional is “exceeds expectations”.
90) What kind of car do you drive?
The same one you do.
91) There's no right or wrong answer, but if you could be anywhere in the world right now, where would
On a dirt bike track.
92) What's the last book you read?
Soft Skills by John Z. Sonmez.
93) What magazines do you subscribe to?
94) What's the best movie you've seen in the last year?
95) What would you do if you won the lottery?
Put some US senators on my payroll.
96) Who are your heroes?
97) What do you like to do for fun?
Answer interview questions honestly.
98) What do you do in your spare time?
Practice answering interview questions.
99) What is your favorite memory from childhood?
The time before cell phones.
100) How many times do a clock's hands overlap in a day?
12 - 1 = 11 * 2 = 22
101) How would you weigh a plane without a scale?
Calculate how much pressure it takes to lift it.
102) Tell me 10 ways to use a pencil other than writing.
103) Sell me this pencil.
I need you write down your opinion of me.
104) If you were an animal, which one would you want to be?
105) Why is there fuzz on a tennis ball?
To slow it down
106) If you could choose one superhero power, what would it be and why?
Ground Hog day 2.0
107) If you could get rid of any one of the US states, which one would you get rid of and why?
108) With your eyes closed, tell me step-by-step how to tie my shoes.