Interview Question Was a Case Question, Not a Stupid One


Peter writes:
Yesterday I was on a job interview at an electronics company. The first half of the interview was going well until the female head of development who interviewed me caught me off guard with an idiotic off-the-wall question: “How many gas stations do think there are in [name of nearest city]?” I thought for a while and then took a chance and answered “20 stations” (the real answer was 70).

After the job interview i felt completely drained of energy and was upset. Now after thinking some more about the interview I’m not so sure that this company is the right place for me.
When i got home after the interview I called my career coach and informed her about the interview and the stupid question. Now I’m consider calling the employer and telling them that I´m no longer interested in working for them.

I didn’t spend 6 years studying engineering to be treated as an idiot at job interview by being asked stupid and irrelevant questions.


The Career Doctor responds:
I’m sorry about your bad experience but this wasn’t an off-the-wall question; it was a case question where the interviewer is less interested in the correct answer than in how you go about solving a problem. Case interviewing is common and the kind of brainteaser question you were asked is a perfectly legitimate type of question to ask of engineers.

Case interviews are designed to scrutinize the skills that are especially important to the type of work you would be doing: quantitative skills analytical skills problem-solving ability communications skills creativity flexibility the ability to think quickly under pressure listening skills business acumen keen insight interpersonal skills the ability to synthesize findings professional demeanor and powers of persuasion.
Above all the firm is looking for someone who can do the real work at hand.

Read about case interviews here.