Tell me about yourself.

The following was posted by a friend of mine on facebook recently (Thanks Erin) - my imediate thoughts were how true. 


The hardest interview question I've ever been asked was not a question at all, but a directive.

Tell me about yourself.

Considering myself is a subject on which I'm fairly well-versed (and considering telling someone about yourself is sort of the WHOLE POINT of an interview), you'd think I could have answered this one with ease, and I should have. But I wound up fumbling miserably, because I was unprepared, ill-equipped, and elevator speechless.

I bungled my way through a bulleted litany of my traits, talents and experience, feeling awkward and unimpressive, and I knew in that moment, with absolute certainty, the interview was over. At the same time, it seemed to be for the best. Looking into the eyes of my interviewer, I knew this was not a person I could work for. She had a predatory quality, catlike, as if she could end me with one swipe of her well-manicured paw and would enjoy doing so.

Never before or since have I experienced a bad interview. I know what I know, I've done what I've done, I like people, and I generally expect people will like me too. That's pretty much the extent of my interview strategy, which I'm happy not to be needing at this point in time. Especially after seeing this list of oddball interview questions.

"You have a birthday cake and have exactly 3 slices to cut it into 8 equal pieces. How do you do it?" — Asked for a fixed income analyst position at Blackrock Portfolio Management Group.

"There are three boxes, one contains only apples, one contains only oranges, and one contains both apples and oranges. The boxes have been incorrectly labeled such that no label identifies the actual contents of the box it labels. Opening just one box, and without looking in the box, you take out one piece of fruit. By looking at the fruit, how can you immediately label all of the boxes correctly?" — Asked for a software QA engineer position at Apple.

"What do wood and alcohol have in common?" — Asked for a staff writer position at Guardsmark.

"A train leaves San Antonio for Houston at 60 mph. Another train leaves Houston for San Antonio at 80 mph. Houston and San Antonio are 300 miles apart. If a bird leaves San Antonio at 100 mph, and turns around and flies back once it reaches the Houston train, and continues to fly between the two, how far will it have flown when they collide?" — Asked for a software engineer position at USAA.

"How are M&M's made?" — Asked for a program development position at US Bank.

Is this really what it's like out there--or is this the worst of the worst? And how do you cut three slices of birthday cake into 8 equal pieces? (Cut two pieces four ways and eat the whole one when no one's looking? NOM NOM NOM NOM.)

What's the toughest interview question you've been asked? And how did you respond?


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