Thursday, August 23, 2007

The Mill's Helping Hand: Volume 1 - Interview Tips

I've done a fair share of interviewing in my time. Unfortunately, very little of it has been spent in the interviewer's seat. That's a real shame for me. Because there's nothing better than the sensation of absolute power one receives when those first beads of sweat appear on your interviewee's forehead. Truly magical. So although I, admittedly, possess insufficient experience in conducting interviews to give any useful advice, I'd like to offer you some tips. I'm just here to help. And thus, "The Mill's Helping Hand" series was born.

Don't you hate those stupid brain teasers that the interviewer often asks, to see if you can reason logically under pressure? Me too. But they can be a very useful tool in determining whether or not someone is dumb. That being said, by now everyone knows all of the old standbys. For example: What's 99 times 99? Or, that one about the race car. Or the other one about the expanding lily pad. Then there's the one about Al Sharpton's hair. We all know how to unravel these riddles. The answers are easily found on the internet. To truly stump your interviewee, you'll need something new. Or newish. Below are a few immensely difficult brain teasers that I'd bet a million bucks you've never heard before. Because I just made them up. In like, only 5 or 10 minutes. I are a genius.

1) Your good friend Roger has been drinking 7 cans of diet soda every day for the past 10 years. Each can of soda contains 300 mg of artificial sweetener. The sweetener is known to cause cancer in laboratory monkeys at a dosage of 2000 mg per day over a 1 month period, but no one has told Roger about this. How do you tell Roger that he has cancer without upsetting him?

2) If 1,000 men can make 300,000 hot dogs from 25,000 cows in 25,000 seconds, how many cows would it take 500,000,000 men to make 600,000,000,000,000 hot dogs, and how many could you eat in 15 minutes? The hot dogs, not the men.

3) Last month, a toy store sold 200 plastic bucket-and-shovel sets for $1.99 each. The toys were made in Mexico. The same store sold 300 plush floppy-eared puppy dogs filled with asbestos and polonium-210, and coated in inhalable lead powder and weaponized anthrax. Made in China. Also, imagine you are the store manager. So, as the toy store's manager, tell me exactly why you are trying to kill 300 kids by selling this crap.

4) Your Bluetooth headset just fell in the toilet at the bus station. You are alone in the men's/ladies' room. Do you go after it with your bare hand, or do you say a quick prayer and leave it for dead? Explain your reasoning, while imagining that this is the same Bluetooth headset you just stole from Best Buy. Why do you steal things? What is it with you people?

You may have noticed that I haven't provided the answers to any of these brain teasers. That's because there isn't a single correct answer to any of them. Except for maybe the hot dog question. But it's too ridiculous for anyone to even waste a minute trying to solve. As for the other questions, you'll be able to determine a lot from the candidate's answers. Such as: Is this person smart or dumb? Is this person nice or not nice? Is this person likely to rat you out to Human Resources when you make a hilarious but racist/sexist comment in front of him/her?

Please let me know how these questions work out for you. I can make up some more if these first few become too widely known.

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