Some interview questions are simply very puzzling to me. They beg the question “Why do they ask them”, and what is there to be gained. Interviews are stressful events, and to ask a candidate seemingly idiotic questions that prove seeming little about their innate talents can be worse than pointless. These questions may show that the interviewing company treats their employees irresponsibly.
A case in point the question above: What is the next in the sequence SSS SCC C SC? This IT interview question is said to be from Google Corp. You can google for the answer, as I did. I found the solution here.
The answer is neither logical, binary nor very clever. “SSS” stands for 3 straight lines, with which you can print the letter “A”. “SCC” stands for one straight line and two curved lines, which makes for the spine of the “B”, as well as the chest and belly. “C” simply stands for itself. The “S” of “SC” stands for the spine of “D”, and the “C” is the belly. Logically the next in the sequence is “SSSS”, four straight lines which can then create “E”. Write code like this and the support programmer after you will curse you and your ancestors for 1,000 years, and rightly so.
As a backlash against these corporate interview questions, the Career Cup has created a database of interview questions, sorted by job type, company and question type. This is a logical step in this interview arms race, and I applaud their efforts. Still I wonder if the effort put into remembering the solutions to these obscure questions is really wasted effort. They add nothing to the candidate’s technical or interpersonal skills, nor do they add to the candidate’s general knowledge of the world. While learning useless facts and figures may be acceptable for those who wish to learn such, I am sure this is not the case for the vast majority of candidates.
And what about those who’s first language is not English? Do these interview questions help find the best candidates, or simply eliminate qualified and talented individuals?
I wonder aloud if these questions by interviewers are meant to satisfy some perverse need to psychologically torture candidates? Are interviewers simply spicing up their daily grind of a job by having fun at the expense of interviewing candidates? I am unsure. While these questions are not technically illegal they do cast the interviewing company in a very bad light.
As an interviewer we all have personal choices. Asking questions that have seemingly no bearing on the candidate’s background, experience, education and applicability to the job position seems like an abuse of your authority over a candidate.
More bluntly, if you are an interviewer, don’t be a jerk.