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## The best job interview questions from Microsoft, Google… and IKEA

Tricky, funny and interesting, these are some questions people claim to have been asked at job interviews with Microsoft and Google. And IKEA, sort of…

We came across these because we are currently looking for a developer and a support technician to join the Pingdom team, and were searching around the Web for some inspiration regarding interview questions. The mission was to find some really good questions for our future developer colleagues.

There are some serious brain twisters in there, so enjoy! (Or be baffled… )

How smart are our readers? The person with the best answer(s) in the comments will win a free one-year Pingdom Business account (worth \$479). The winner will be picked by us here at Pingdom.

1. How many golf balls can fit in a school bus?
2. You are shrunk to the height of a nickel and your mass is proportionally reduced so as to maintain your original density. You are then thrown into an empty glass blender. The blades will start moving in 60 seconds. What do you do?
3. How many piano tuners are there in the entire world?
4. In a country in which people only want boys, every family continues to have children until they have a boy. If they have a girl, they have another child. If they have a boy, they stop. What is the proportion of boys to girls in the country?
5. Describe a chicken using a programming language.

#### Questions by Microsoft

1. You have a bucket of jelly beans. Some are red, some are blue, and some green. With your eyes closed, pick out 2 of a like color. How many do you have to grab to be sure you have 2 of the same?
2. Pairs of primes separated by a single number are called prime pairs. Examples are 17 and 19. Prove that the number between a prime pair is always divisible by 6 (assuming both numbers in the pair are greater than 6). Now prove that there are no ‘prime triples.’
3. Imagine an analog clock set to 12 o’clock. Note that the hour and minute hands overlap. How many times each day do both the hour and minute hands overlap? How would you determine the exact times of the day that this occurs?
4. How much does a 747 weigh?
5. Imagine a disk spinning like a record player turn table. Half of the disk is black and the other is white. Assume you have an unlimited number of color sensors. How many sensors would you have to place around the disk to determine the direction the disk is spinning? Where would they be placed?

#### And this is how IKEA does it…

Since we are based in Sweden, we thought that some local inspiration would be in place and had a look at IKEA job interview questions. This must clearly be how they handle their interviews…

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Matt

I am in the process of getting a job at IKEA and yeah....apparantly that really is part of the interview. but they time you and take notes. probably count how many times you swear under your breath.

Uttam Garg

stephanie

That was good Ken, but why not sit on the unfinished chair, conduct the interview, while you put it together, and then announce how you always multi-task, plus it shows you are handy and can "fix" any situation.

Jos

just the clock problem of microsoft it comes to the modulo 12 calculation 12 t = t ( modulo 12) 11 t = 0 or t = 12 k /11 for k=0,1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9,10 since solution of t is in modulo 12 it makes no sence to have a k >= 11 the interval is 12/11*5 minutes = 5.454545 minutes which is : 5 ' 27 " 27/100

JACHV

1.How many golf balls can fit in a school bus? Are they inflate? 2.Imagine a disk spinning like a record player turn table. Half of the disk is black and the other is white. Assume you have an unlimited number of color sensors. How many sensors would you have to place around the disk to determine the direction the disk is spinning? Where would they be placed? See Feynman lectures on physics. 3.a) 24 b) 11

JACHV

If you are shrunked to the height of a nickel and your mass is proportionally reduced, the density won't mantain.

J

Questions by Google 1. How many golf balls can fit in a school bus? Twice as many as the number of golf balls that it takes to fill half the space in a school bus. ;) 2. You are shrunk to the height of a nickel and your mass is proportionally reduced so as to maintain your original density. You are then thrown into an empty glass blender. The blades will start moving in 60 seconds. What do you do? Sit on the blade at its center point, and then hold on tight. ;) 3. How many piano tuners are there in the entire world? The number of pianos in the world divided by x. ;) 4. In a country in which people only want boys, every family continues to have children until they have a boy. If they have a girl, they have another child. If they have a boy, they stop. What is the proportion of boys to girls in the country? This scenario has no bearing on the answer. With any pregnancy, there is a 50/50 chance of having a boy or a girl. (You can have 9 families, where 8 have boys with the first pregnancy and the ninth has 1 girl then 1 boy. The ratio would be 9 boys to 1 girl. You can have 1 family that has 9 girls then a boy. That ratio would be 9 girls to 1 boy.) 5. Describe a chicken using a programming language. main () { printf (“A chicken is a tasty bird that produces tasty eggs.”); } Questions by Microsoft 1. You have a bucket of jelly beans. Some are red, some are blue, and some green. With your eyes closed, pick out 2 of a like color. How many do you have to grab to be sure you have 2 of the same? Four. (The number of colors in the bucket plus 1.) 2. Pairs of primes separated by a single number are called prime pairs. Examples are 17 and 19. Prove that the number between a prime pair is always divisible by 6 (assuming both numbers in the pair are greater than 6). Now prove that there are no ‘prime triples.’ Because all primes are odd numbers, with the exception of 2, and sequential integers always alternate between odd and even numbers, then the number between prime pairs must be even, thus divisible evenly by 2. One in every three sequential integers is divisible by 3. Because of this, the number between the 2 primes must be the one divisible by 3. If the number between the prime pair is always divisible by 2 and by 6, then it must also be divisible by 2x3, i.e. 6. 3. Imagine an analog clock set to 12 o’clock. Note that the hour and minute hands overlap. How many times each day do both the hour and minute hands overlap? 22, 11 times each full rotation of the hour hand. (As the minute hand approaches the hour hand after the eleventh hour, it finally overlaps at the twelfth hour.) How would you determine the exact times of the day that this occurs? With eleven overlaps every 12 hours and 60 minutes in an hour, the number of minutes after each hour that the hour and minute hands overlap is 60 divided by 11 multiplied by the number of hours after 12:00. 4. How much does a 747 weigh? 747 tons, plus or minus 747 tons. ;) 5. Imagine a disk spinning like a record player turn table. Half of the disk is black and the other is white. Assume you have an unlimited number of color sensors. How many sensors would you have to place around the disk to determine the direction the disk is spinning? Two. Where would they be placed? They can be placed anywhere, except where the line between the two sensors would cross the center point of the disk.

Pat

Typical Ikea "puzzle"; some of the screws are missing!

matt

the one abot the beans is -all but one bean it doesn't say howmany of eachc type off bean there isin the bucket - so if there is 100 geen 1 red and 1 blue then u will need to take out 101 to ensure 2 coulors

Christine

StaceyC should get the job (or perhaps win the contest in this case). She (he?) is practical, concise, good creativity:logic ratio, confident enough ask questions and show weaknesses, and enthusiastic. Go Stacey!! I, on the other hand, am so right-brained I couldn't even stand to read through an entire number-oriented question. I did immediately think I would hop onto the blender blade and hang on for all I am worth, though my left brain didn't even kick in enough to think of staying close to the center. I suppose that would have hit me once I was spinning. Hello!?! :)

Rich

Google: 1. What color are the balls? 2. Sneak out the bottom. 3. Not enough. Have you heard my piano? 4. There are more boys in the country but less in the city. 5. That would be Bob, the systems analyst at RNC this November. He's 5'9", weighs 167 pounds and speaks with a limp. MSFT: 1. Ah, I know this one. The answer is four. 2. I won't answer this question and you can't make me. 3. I'm sorry, I have no imagination. 4. I don't know; how much does a 747 weigh? 5. What is a record player?

Raji

1. Use the measurement marks in the blender and try to climb.

Jenn

re: Describe a chicken using a programming language: A really smart chicken.

Brian

#1--How many golf balls can fit into a school bus? With the kids inside, or without? #2--You are shrunk to the height of a nickel and your mass is proportionally reduced so as to maintain your original density. You are then thrown into an empty glass blender. The blades will start moving in 60 seconds. What do you do? You wake up and resolve to stop eating Domino's Pizza an hour before bedtime. #3--How many piano tuners are there in the entire world? They don't live in pianos, silly. They live in the ocean. (This is, of course, a better answer if your local English dialect is non-rhotic.) #4--In a country in which people only want boys, every family continues to have children until they have a boy. If they have a girl, they have another child. If they have a boy, they stop. What is the proportion of boys to girls in the country? Well, this is pretty much the case in China and India, and they seem to be keeping it pretty close to 50-50, so... #5--Describe a chicken using a programming language. "You know, I'm really afraid to use a nested loop here, and a subrouting just doesn't seem right either..." (Note: this is also a description of a pussy using a programming language.) Do I get the job?

Zenon

G1. How many golf balls can fit in a school bus? One. Two. Ten. There is no "max" in this question. One ball can fit in a bus. This answer is correct.

Irfan Makandar

OK. I will think of answering these question if and only if Bill Gates / Larry Page / Sergey Brin answers at least one question out of above :) :) kidding...

James

kelly

Here's my question... If you're tiny and are "thrown" into a blender, wouldn't you die? Sort of like a bug smashing into a windshield?

mleko

These Microsoft questions are way too simple. Do they really hire people based on that? The one about the primes has false premises, as stated above: 4 isn't divisible by 6, (3,5,7) is a triplet. Golfballs: Depends on the compression algorithm. Throw them in a Windhexe first. Turntables turn clockwise. Boys/girls: That one's tricky. One could argue that gender is a societal construction anyway, so there will be 100% boys because they will be defined as such. Alternatively: There's probably a gaussian distribution for the genetic likelihood of a couple producing more boys or more girls. Those who are more likely to pop a boy will get only one. Those who are genetically predisposed towards girls will try a zillion times (because as per the premise, they won't stop trying) and get a zillion girls. So there will certainly be more girls than boys, but the exact ratio is hard to tell. That's if they don't kill them.

SEO-PRO

My answer to all would be: I want to work at Cuil.com instead... I heard they spent \$33 million on doughnuts and office snacks.

SLK

Answers to Google's questions... 1) Why would you want to fill a school bus with golf balls? 2) Lay flat and hope the blades stop spinning soon! 3) Who cares!? 4) If they only want boys in this country, how in the world do they think they will be able to continue populating the country? I would answer Microsoft's questions, but answering Google's took too much out of me. 5) Can I step away from the interview and Google it?

a691662

Where are the answers？ They are so difficult！

Owen

I like it how you have all asumed a vertical split for the record player question. All it says is half of the disc is white and half black, the outter rim of the disc could be black with the inner rim being white each covering half of the area of the disc. in which case if perfectly circle no number of static sensors will tell you the direction of spin. as there will be no colour change. From what is given you can only say clockwise as stated previously it spins 'like' a record player hence clockwise

Erasmus

How many golf balls fit in a school bus? Enough to seriously inconvenience the school children. Except in America, where this is too dangerous an experiment to try. You might get shot. You are shrunk to the height of a nickel and your mass is proportionally reduced so as to maintain your original density. You are then thrown into an empty glass blender. The blades will start moving in 60 seconds. What do you do? I would appeal to whatever intelligence is poised to press the blend button, and failing that I would attempt to climb out or duck under the blades. If I succeeded in making my escape, I would go on to release a best selling diet guide in which I would not mention blenders. How many piano tuners are there in the entire world? Enough to tune all the pianos in the world, except those used in all school musical productions. In a country in which people only want boys, every family continues to have children until they have a boy. If they have a girl, they have another child. If they have a boy, they stop. What is the proportion of boys to girls in the country? Statistically, the ratio remains essentially 50/50 . However, though there will only be a fixed and predictable number of boys, this mathematical model allows for wild fluctuation in the number of girls from case to case. So... are you feeling lucky? Describe a chicken using a programming language. my %chicken = ( tasty => 1, intelligent => 0, lay_egg => sub ( %chicken->new(); ), kill => sub ( print "SQUUUUARK!"; \$chicken->run_around(); die; ) ) ; You have a bucket of jelly beans. Some are red, some are blue, and some green. With your eyes closed, pick out 2 of a like color. How many do you have to grab to be sure you have 2 of the same? Logic dictates that I must take four before I can be sure I have two of like colour, but due to the propensity of jelly beans to fuse together, creating discoloured, monstrously malformed, outcast, mutant beans I would probably take five to be safe. Pairs of primes separated by a single number are called prime pairs. Examples are 17 and 19. Prove that the number between a prime pair is always divisible by 6 (assuming both numbers in the pair are greater than 6). Now prove that there are no ‘prime triples.’ This has been explained many times already, and I honestly can't think of a good joke based on prime number pairs. Shame on me. Imagine an analog clock set to 12 o’clock. Note that the hour and minute hands overlap. How many times each day do both the hour and minute hands overlap? How would you determine the exact times of the day that this occurs? The hands overlaps once every minute. If you can work out where the clock hands are destined to overlap, then you, much like the clock itself, have too much time on your hands. How much does a 747 weigh? Slightly more than a 746 and slightly less than a 748 Imagine a disk spinning like a record player turn table. Half of the disk is black and the other is white. Assume you have an unlimited number of color sensors. How many sensors would you have to place around the disk to determine the direction the disk is spinning? Where would they be placed? In theory you need only two sensors. In practise you need none; record players always spin spin clockwise, in order to play records. So... do I get the job?

michal

Google: 1) need more information. with or without driver? ;) who need to put golf balls into bus school anyway? ;) 2) lie below blades 3) easy one - only 45263. dont ask me why ;) 4) 1:1 5) \$fly=false, \$weight='2kg', \$image='chicken.png', \$chicken = new bird(\$image,\$weight,\$fly); MS: 1) 4. 2) a) x - prime y - x+1 z - prime, x+2 x, z - cannot be divided by 2 - they're odd y is even so it's diveded by 2 in group of 3 next numbers (1,2,3) one of them is always divided by 3 x,z - cannot be divided by 3 so y is divided by 2 and 3, so it's divided by 6 b) prime triples lets say: a - prime b - divided by 3, proofed above, so next number that is divided by 3 should be "e", but e "is" a prime c - prime d - should be divided by 3, because it's between prime numbers e - prime 3) 22, 11 times for every 12 hours. 4) with gas? with crew? need more information ;) 5) 2 sensors, next to each other, but not in the same line with radius 3) Ikea Hahaha :) nice one.

Leo D.

Okay, all of those people who said the answer to the coloured bean Microsoft question was four are wrong. It is not four. It cannot be four. Sure if you want to be one hundred percent positive, and get two extra beans. The correct answer is two. Read the question carefully. It says "pick out two of a like colour". If who beans are of a like colour, then they are the same colour. Therefore, you just need to pick two to get two of the same colour. Easy, really.

Jonny P

Google 1: Volume of B/G = X. X being a number that holds little relevance for any plausible scenario. Google 2: Uhh, grow big again. Duh. Google 3: About as many as the number of golf balls you can fit in a school bus. Google 4: Unless the country can bend the laws of physics and principles of conception and genetic mingling... 50% Google 5: b0k b0k!!!

osman nuri aktepe

Microsost Question 1 Until be sure the box is empty. actually i can't be sure, maybe i can't grab same color.

osman nuri aktepe

microsot questions Question 2 : if a number can divide by 2 and can divide by 3, number can divide by 6. if a number is prime number can't mustb be singular. first prime number is singular and second prime number is sigular so a number between them must be double and can divide by two. if first prime number can't divide by 3 and second prime number neither, so a number between them must divide by 3. beacuse division by 3 repeat by 3 number. The number between 2 prime number must divide by 3 and must divide by 2 so this number must divide by 6. sorry my english :(

Daniel

The answer to the piano tuner question is simple. Since no piano is truly in tune (they are even-tempered, which means that there is an even interval between each half-step, therefore no interval or chord is truly in tune), there is no one employed to truly tune a piano, therefore there are no piano tuners.

Ed

the nickle one could turn out well, but more than likely not. if you jump up and climb along a blade, hold it hangling off it on the very tip, when it starts spinning, time it nicely and let go, as the blades are at an angle you might just make a great escape. the only problem is living when your that small, you have tougher challanges that escaping from a blender.

Paul

Darvin

Google 1. Enough golf balls to make the bus float. 2. Rock the blender until you tip it over. This will break the glass and you will be free. You can live the rest of your miserable miniature existence 3. The exact answer is impossible, but a rough estimate could be done by finding the ratio of pianos to people on the planet, and pianos to piano tuners. 4. Like with flipping a coin, it is 50% each time. It should be about 50% of each sex. 5. Let chicken = “Baah-caawk!” Microsoft 1. The question states that “some” are red, “some” are blue, and “some” are green. This tells us only one thing: there are at least two jelly beans of each color. (because “some” cannot equal 1, but can equal 2) It is a possibility that 1,000,000 jelly beans are red, 2 are blue and 2 are green. In order to assure that you pick two separate colors you must pick all of the jelly beans except three. This is true regardless of the amount of jelly beans in the container. 2. No prime triples because every even number is divisible by 2. 3. Hour hand does 2 full rotations around the clock in 24 hours. Minute hand does 24 rotations in 24 hours. In the time it takes for the minute hand to make its way around a full days time, the hour hand will rotate twice, so 24 minus 2 equals 22. It will overtake the minute hand 22 times in 24 hours. But, if you count the beginning point (hour zero) it is 23 times. 4. A 747 weighs nothing while it’s flying. 5. The question states, “Half of the disk is black and the other is white.” It doesn’t say which half. If the top half is white and the bottom half is black, than there is no sensor that can tell direction. But if the colors are on the same side and it is divided like a pie cut down the middle then only one sensor is needed. (If you set the sensor to a stroke pattern out of sync with the revolutions of the disc, you can tell which direction it is turning)

rprebel

If you're shrunk down to the size of a nickel, and then thrown into a now very large glass blender, it seems to me that most of your bones would be broken when you hit bottom. At that point, assuming you survived the fall, it's just a sixty second countdown to the sweet release of death.

SKP

Its jus a question to check you humor quotient!... not great timing I agree... but wats life without having to step back and laugh at all brainacal presumptions we have!

KAB

Repeats in respect to Microsoft 1: If reinterpreted as having AT LEAST 2 the answer is 4 4 is not the answer to the question AS POSED, because then you may actually have 3 or 4 of the same colour, not 2. Whether 2, 3, or 4 gives most probability of having 2 like, no less, no more, I give to the more calculating reader.

Tinker Bell

Google 1. Depended on the type of the bus. 2. Escapes whithin 1 minute. 3. 1 4. 1:1 5. 10 Let Chicken = "Young lady" 20 Print Chicken Run Microsoft 1. 4. 2. If the middle number can divisible by 3, the question proved. If not it must be 3n＋1 or 3n＋2. If it is 3n＋1, the first one would be 3n; If it is 3n＋2, the last one would be 3(n＋1), not prime. So it must be 3n. 3. 22 times. 4. 395,000-900,000 pounds. 5. 2. Side by side IKEA To grab the seat from the interviewer!

DSchutte

The weight of a 747 is entirely determined on the location. Pretty basic physics really. If it was in space, it would weigh nothing. If it was on the moon, it would be pretty heavy. If it was on the earth, resting, it would be MASSIVELY heavy. I think they are trying to give a BS question. The real question that would be tough to ask would be 'What is the Mass of a 747'. That is definitive and can be determined.

Ionatan

Google: 1. All of them, I don't think there's a golf ball bigger than any bus. 2. The height of a nikel is a couple of milimeters, so i think that if you lie on the floor, you'll probably not be touched by the blades, if the air is strong enough to blow you up, I'll be so thin (if I'm 2mm tall, I'll be 0.3mm from back to nose) that I think you'll probably pass between the blades. 3. Enough of them, I've never had the problem of not finding one. 4. The ratio will be 1:1. 5. class chicken extends from egg MS: 1. 4. 2. Already solved here.... 3. 23 times. 4. A 747 what? A boeing 747 airplane? If that's the case, I don't have the exact number, it's a lot, but it still flies. 5. They're half black and half white, but how are they painted? It's not the same if it's half cirlce black and half white, or if it's one side black and other white or they have drawing.

KAB

At the risk of airing my Asberger lite syndrome; Microaoft 1: Unanswerable, as it is posed. Now, if you asked how many you would have to pick to get AT LEAST two of the same colour, the answer is four.

burak

google 1. i will search this question with google and its says ~183,000 2. if they can be real, i am using my teleport machine. 3. a lot of. 4. girls equals to boys .ratio is 0,5 because of statistic :P with alpha = %5 5. cls print"chickhen is a type of bird." Microsoft 1. you need to grab 4 pieces of jelly. i love statistic :P r,g,b,. rr,rb,rg, gr,gb,gg, bb,bg,br, rgb,rbg,rrr,rbb,rgg, ... rgbr, etc if we select 4 we will be sure that be have two of same jelly. 2. do you really know these answers i dont think so.

Joel Ordesky

For the Ikea cartoon. Gather up the parts. Thank the person for the gift and leave.

James

The Google questions are simple. 1. I don't know, let me Google it. 2. 60 Seconds, that's enough time for me to Google the solution and still escape from the blender. 3. I'm not quite sure, give me less than a second and I'll return with a list of the best answers. 4. Let me Google their population data. 5. I'm sure someone's already done this, let me Google it and I'll provide you with the source code.

Carl Forde

errata: msft #3: the interval is 65 minutes 27 3/10 seconds, the beginning total is correct at 23, the second is incorrect.

Berna

I think that such companies might well be considering even the recruitment procedure as an occasion to stay on others' minds; afterall, both companies are selling to masses. Evidence?: The titles of the companies are now on your website and making people think on some answers while the companies are - I presumed- not paying a penny for this. Please disqualify this answer if the companies are really paying for this announcement. Otherwise,I will enjoy the Pingdom's solution package. Thank you.

hehe

mic... 1-4 2-17+19=36...3+6=9...=>..9 (turn the monitör and look the number) 3-24...24:00 4-if you write 747 with one truck cement too heavy, if you write 747 with pencil not heavy 5-one cencor for you and another for me

hehe

1-750,000 2-ı can swim.. 3-every piano have got a tuner 4-one by one 6-......(::::).....^^...... ......(:::::::)..(;*;)..... ......(:::::::::::).{}..... .......!!.!!............... .......>>..>>..............