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Aza
Aza

Posted on

What is the worst question you have ever been asked in a job interview?

Oh interviews!
Some people are afraid of them, but I am always looking forward. It's the skill that you need to develop constantly. No matter how good you are at what you do, you need to be able to present it to new people during the short conversation.
And I think, everyone agrees that interviews are the tests of not only technical skills, but adaptability to the new team.

What is the worst question you have ever been asked in a job interview?

My experience:

1) If I had 7+ years of experience on the software that exists only for 3 years.

and there were many more.......much more......

Top comments (105)

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nerdycap007 profile image
Aman Sharma

You should have answered in James Bond style, "I eat dogs... Hot dogs!!"

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j_mplourde profile image
Jean-Michel Plourde

"Is there any dog/kid/wife that could get sick and make you miss some work days?"

I was baffled, I ended the interview and told them I was not interested into getting involved with a company asking these kind of questions.

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val_baca profile image
Valentin Baca

OH MY what an awful question and glad you took that as a major red flag. In fact, I'm not a lawyer, but asking directly about marital status in an interview actually illegal in the US.

betterteam.com/illegal-interview-q...

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j_mplourde profile image
Jean-Michel Plourde

It's very illegal in Canada too, and we have even stricter rules than US like no age, sex, religion, skin color, etc. At this point, I just wished them to go bankrupt and didn't want to spend anymore energy on them.

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aza profile image
Aza

oh wow! Does the cat also count?

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rohmishra profile image
Rohan Mishra

Hiring for JS and CSS and every question was about C# .net and random .net libraries.

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aza profile image
Aza

Maybe the team didn't even know JS and CSS themselves and still they had to ask you something!

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val_baca profile image
Valentin Baca • Edited on

"What is RAID?"

It allows multiple disks to be configured in a way that optimizes for speed or redundancy or a combination of the two.

"What is RAID 0?"

I don't have the specific types of RAID memorized. Rather if I need a specific need, like redundancy, I can google the kind that I need.

"....Ok....So what is RAID 1?"

Do you have any questions that aren't answerable with a google search?

"..."


Turns out they just wanted a DBA.

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alvagante profile image
Alessandro Franceschi

Don't want to play the smartass here as it's true that this information can be quickly found with a search, as almost everything, but not knowing the answer straight away actually DOES give a seniority indication, at least for sysadmins. Knowing the difference between Raid 0, 1 and 5 (the most used ones) should be granted for sysadmins and expected also from DBAs. my2c

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val_baca profile image
Valentin Baca • Edited on

You're absolutely right that I would expect a sysadmin to know these off-the-cuff, but this interview was for a junior software engineer.

It was not advertised as for a DBA or sysadmin position. They also didn't change up the questions after realizing that they weren't going to get anywhere. Instead they just kept going down their list of "okay, what is RAID 2...RAID 3..."

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alvagante profile image
Alessandro Franceschi • Edited on

Oh right, for a junior developer these are not required notions. And insisting on Raid 2, 3 and other quite uncommon levels was pointless

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ovinokurov profile image
Oleg Vinokurov

"What kind of car you drive?" They saw me in the video camera when I arrived. Year, model, color, etc.

Correct answer:
class Car
{
string color = "gray";

static void Main(string[] args)
{
Car myObj = new Car();
Console.WriteLine(myObj.color);
}
}

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aza profile image
Aza

oh, so you actually had to guess that they want to code as an answer.

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ovinokurov profile image
Oleg Vinokurov

I guess so, but that was my answer. I didn't get a job ;)

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endymion1818 profile image
Ben Read

I went for an interview where the boss sat me down and told me to write a sort function on paper. I get very nervous at this kind of question and ended the interview as soon as I could. Not long after that I got a new job anyway, at the company they were outsourcing nearly all of their development work to.

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aza profile image
Aza

Have been there. Once i was explained the database relationship of multiple tables orally and was asked to write down the query on piece of paper. I wrote the query but totally messed up the table names. Selective memory...but for this kind of questions a little handout with structure would greatly help.

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jsn1nj4 profile image
Elliot Derhay

Oh the irony!

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marcusjohnson profile image
Marcus Johnson

And we have a winner. Yikes.

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dividedbynil profile image
Kane Ong • Edited on

Interesting question! I have one to share.

My situation was, around 4-5 persons asking different questions, which are very broad (technically related, experience, tooling I used, etc, switching around very frequently). After a while (around 20 minutes) math question came out, and they mentioned that "waiting for me to give up", I did not give up and give them the right answer. Obviously their plan did not work out on me.

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aza profile image
Aza

Did you get a job?

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dividedbynil profile image
Kane Ong

I rejected them, as this is one good example to show that it is a common tactic of company recruiters hiring developers by destroying their confidence in order to make interviewees accept whatever offer they give. That's one of the reasons why imposter syndrome is prevalent in this industry.

Nowadays I will be playful with recruiters psychology tactics.

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aza profile image
Aza

You did great!

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nerdycap007 profile image
Aman Sharma

Oh, I am so glad you mentioned the imposter syndrome in this case. Because this is one of those very reasons why people who are much senior to us, don't allow us to learn and instead they very vocally express, "Huh, you don't even know that?" I mean, dude.. let me try to find an answer at least. I don't mean all of them are like this, but I don't like when someone does this. Now that I am aware of it, I don't react to such statements when I hear it from someone, but many beginners don't have a clue.

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dividedbynil profile image
Kane Ong • Edited on

To all the viewers, be confident for yourself. The worst question may design deliberately to make you look inexperienced even though you are not. Don't take it to the heart. Anyway, be sure to improve yourself and be ready for all those questions.

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dividedbynil profile image
Kane Ong • Edited on

@nerdycap007 I'm glad that you found the essence of my reply, those actions that make you feel worthless from others will not affect you anymore.

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steelwolf180 profile image
Max Ong Zong Bao

What is SOLID design principles? I was literally stuck in how to implement it.

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pclundaahl profile image
Patrick Charles-Lundaahl

I feel like this is pretty fundamental, really. I've certainly brought these up in design discussions with my team at work before, and they're something I think about frequently in my hobby projects, as well.

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steelwolf180 profile image
Max Ong Zong Bao

Not really I think it's more of an opinion or best practices that the company might adopt. Which is similar to design patterns that might not be that common as well. Like you don't need it unless you are required to use it?

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pclundaahl profile image
Patrick Charles-Lundaahl

I mean, I suppose you're right in that you don't absolutely need them to write working software. But I think the same could be said about things like tests, or not littering magic numbers throughout your code. They aren't necessarily going to make your code work better now, but they've got a very high likelihood of making it more maintainable!

Anyway, I'm sorry you got stuck on that question! Regardless of the topic, getting stumped in interviews sucks.

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steelwolf180 profile image
Max Ong Zong Bao

Yeah I'm not against it for code maintainable sake. Which I will usually chuck it as a nice to have thing. Over something like clean code, pair programming and TDD.

In fact it lead me in reading it more in depth to explore design patterns and SOLID more. It just makes me more smarter in future interviews to ask questions.

What are they are expecting for me roughly in a interview before I go for another one to prevent myself being caught off guard.

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pclundaahl profile image
Patrick Charles-Lundaahl

Hm. I feel like there are probably a pretty huge range of answers there, depending on who the interviewer is, what company they work for, and what department they work for (could be HR, a technical person from the prospective team, a technical person from a different team, a recruiter, etc.). I'm also not sure that I'm really the right person to answer - my interview experience is pretty limited. I have opinions on things like SOLID because I spend a lot of time thinking about, reading about, and practicing software engineering, both at work and in my free time. I've also worked in some pretty gross codebases, and I've seen what happens when people don't keep things organized and adhere to things like SRP.

My (limited) understanding is that interviewers are usually trying to gauge you on at least two axies:

  • Technical fit
  • Team/culture fit

Both of those have a pretty huge impact on how much value you're likely add to the organization.

I would also say that, if they're thoughtful about it, they're probably also trying to gauge your fit for the industry or domain you'll be working in: an engineer with an interest in ecommerce is going to be more valuable to an ecommerce company than one who is interested in game development, simply because they have spent more hours thinking about the domain. When they are given a problem to solve, they'll have more context that they cam draw on.

As for not getting caught off guard, I'm inclined to say there are probably two aspects to focus on: 1) building your knowledge in the relevant areas, 2) your ability to handle being caught off guard when it does happen.

Point 1 is something you can solve through Google, reading, practice, and just being generally curious about your craft. Generally, I would say be curious about the fundamentals.

Point 2 is equally important, though - you're going to get caught off guard, evem after years of experience, so being prepared for it and having a plan for how to recover is really crucial, I think. A lot of the time, interviewers are explicitly trying to test the boundaries of your knowledge. It lets them find out what you really know, and also how you handle not knowing.

For concrete areas, I'd be inclined to focus on things such as:

  • SOLID principles
  • Core design patterns (the problems they solve, what the costs of using them are, possible alternatives)
  • Requirements gathering and analysis, critical thinking
  • Underlying tech (HTTP, CORS, etc.)
  • Different solutions in your problem space and their tradeoffs (e.g., for web developers, what are the benefits, costs, risks, tradeoffs, etc., of using server-side rendering as opposed to SPAs or SSGs?)

Again, these are just bits and pieces I've concluded from my limited experience. Please take anything I say with a fairly hefty dose of salt!

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steelwolf180 profile image
Max Ong Zong Bao • Edited on

It's a extensive list :) we all have our preferences and in the way we do things in the type of jobs, we are of interested in or has inclination with.

I just chuck it as experience and seek for other pastures. As startup has always been about culture fit. Which I just guess I do not fit them and its alright. Since there is tons of companies or jobs out there.

For me, I'm more of scrappy person to get stuff done. Even if I'm bad at it for the start. I will figure out a way to do it.

Which is why I'm not really that opinionated or dogmatic in my way. Sure sometimes I wish there will be certain expectations I see in others. but I won't be bothered with they are not having clean code, good test cases and easy to understand documentation. I just figure it out to deal with it along which sadly can not be verified through a short interview.

Besides I feel we should be a voracious learner to take on multiple mental models to solve a problem. Combine with interest in learning soft skills needed for us to be better communicator & developer, leading a team and dealing with people who might be less technical inclined to get something done.

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natriumdev profile image
NatriumDev

pretty common question imo.

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nerdycap007 profile image
Aman Sharma

I am a frontend dev and once I was attending an interview for the same position. The guy asked me about how many family members do I have? I was okay with that question. But then the guy asked, "How good is your relationship with your father?" (It was a startup company and the guy was one the founders.) By that time I was thinking, "If that's the first time we are meeting, imagine how it will be when I would be working with him?" Anyways, I think my answer did not satisfy his standards πŸ˜… cuz I did not get a callback for a technical interview.
Moral of the story: "Don't be a therapist, while you are interviewing someone.. πŸ˜›"

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sunitk profile image
Sunit Katkar

In the US you don't get such family related questions, but I've been asked some weird questions.

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nerdycap007 profile image
Aman Sharma

Really? Like what? Because there must be some reason behind asking those questions, right? In my case, I still couldn't figure out why to ask a person about his relationships with his father? Did he want to know how much I am affected by my childhood and to overcome my insecurities, I will invest my life energies in improving my work?

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sunitk profile image
Sunit Katkar

Like 'What is your opinion on office flirtations and relationships?' This was out of the blue and then realising what an inappropriate question he had asked, the interviewer tried to make it sound like he was joking and gave reference of some episode of The Office tv series.

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nerdycap007 profile image
Aman Sharma

Haha, people trying to be Micheal Scott from The Office.

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aza profile image
Aza

Seems like a guy had problems with his father. Maybe, the answer "My relations su.. (are bad)" would get you a technical interview.

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nerdycap007 profile image
Aman Sharma

That would be a great answer, lol. Interviewers try to take very weird approaches, but instead, it is not that difficult to find out if the person is really capable of the job or not.

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pclundaahl profile image
Patrick Charles-Lundaahl

Pretty sure questions related to your personal life are illegal in Canada. At any rate, that would be the point where I thanked them for their time and told them to look elsewhere.

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nerdycap007 profile image
Aman Sharma

It may be possible, but here in India, I have seen interviewers from some companies act a little too much out of the normal, cuz there are no such laws here.

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pclundaahl profile image
Patrick Charles-Lundaahl

:(

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richardeschloss profile image
Richard Schloss • Edited on

"We're looking to fill a role with someone who has 5-10 years of experience with [buzzword framework], do you have it?" (and in my head, I'm thinking umm...that framework has only been out for 2 years...)

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aza profile image
Aza

Very common question. Especially i like when people put this range 5-10 years of experience.

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lifelongthinker profile image
Sebastian

Yep. And don't forget: They only want to pay you as a junior dev. Some companies just don't know how much they shoot themselves in the foot with this kind of behavior.

The saying goes: If you pay peanuts, you get monkeys.

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jsn1nj4 profile image
Elliot Derhay

I think you mean code monkeys. 😎

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nerdycap007 profile image
Aman Sharma

I think they are looking for the creator of that framework, but they are feeling shy to reach out to him/her directly, so they are hoping that he/she shows up in one of their interviews. #ultraoptimism

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radoslaven profile image
radoslaven

I think that this is a problem in general today, there are recruiters that are hired by companies and are given a list of objectives and requirements but of course the recruiters beautify them and if they are interviewing you there is a high change asking you question like this now knowing what they are dealing with. I am talking from experience, went on an interview, they asked me personal questions only and said that there would be a second interview with the tech lead but they never called me, idk why, my skills were never tested.

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johnelomas profile image
John Lomas

Hiring manager for a city IT department to me walking into the interview room: How much of you resume is lies?

I should have walked out at that point.

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aza profile image
Aza

What??????I would!

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aza profile image
Aza

You won!
I would never think of something more stupid to ask.

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srleyva profile image
Stephen Leyva (He/Him)

Them: Please list all Possible Linux signals And their meanings
Me: Can I have a terminal?
Them: You should be able to answer without a terminal
Me: Are we not allowed to look at man pages for this job or....

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quasipickle profile image
Dylan Anderson

Not an interview question, but I had a professor in university with the same attitude as you. He thought there was no value in learning everything by heart because "You're never going to be on a desert island and the only way you can get off is by calculating the standard deviation of a data set by heart"

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srleyva profile image
Stephen Leyva (He/Him)

I agree! I think there’s value in learning how to find things outside of google but even then there are very few instances where you don’t have google. I’m not a huge fan of this trivia-like interview questions as it doesn’t prove application of knowledge.

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pclundaahl profile image
Patrick Charles-Lundaahl

+1! Being able to read and extract value from, e.g., a man page is a super useful skill.

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sylvaingirod profile image
Sylvain GIROD

I've been asked on flags that exist or not on a precise object of the android framework.

This kind of questions are pointless, as there is no value on knowing the doc per heart...

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aza profile image
Aza

I agree, such questions/answers are pointless.
Unfortunately, some interviewers make a goal of showing that they are smarter than you, rather than looking for candidates for their team. Ego!

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wobsoriano profile image
Robert

This is very true. Oh well.

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