Fortune recently put out an interesting piece listing “the most ridiculous” job interview questions. And, to be sure, they are ridiculous.

But are they completely out of left field?

At the outset, sure, they seem like insane questions (“What’s your fastball?”). Yet if you note the companies that are asking them, we think it makes sense. All the queries require clever – if not extremely intelligent – responses, answers that will no doubt exercise the candidate’s critical thinking skills. The questions also require the candidate to think on their feet, all while keeping their cool.

Consider that these could be the same people operating nuclear reactors, building the hardware, software and essential devices of tomorrow, and keeping our personal records secured. So, wacky as they may seem, there’s a method to the interviewers’ madness. Some of our faves, along with the answers that we found by a simple Google searc…er, I mean, we figured them out without any help.

From Apple: “You have three boxes. One contains only apples, one contains only oranges, and one contains both apples and oranges. The boxes have been incorrectly labeled so that no label accurately identifies the contents of any of the boxes. Opening just one box, and without looking inside, you take out one piece of fruit. By looking at the fruit, how can you immediately label all of the boxes correctly?” (Answer.)

From Facebook: “Given the numbers 1 to 1,000, what is the minimum number of guesses needed to find a specific number, if you are given the hint ‘higher’ or ‘lower’ for each guess you make?” (Answer.)

From Intel: “Explain quantum electrodynamics in two minutes, starting now.” (Answer.)

Goofy or good? Leave your thoughts in the comments.

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Great article in the WSJ regarding the shortage of mobile software developers. More and more companies are looking for software engineers with mobile experience to develop applications. The reality is they don’t exist and the smart companies are picking up good software engineers and training them.

Their is an inherent problem with the two major mobile platforms, Droid and Apple iOS. There isn’t code portable between each device set. To develop native software on the iOS (iPhone/iPad), you need an Apple desktop plus their SDK and you must learn Objective-C.  You can develop software for the Droid with any desktop operating system that supports Java and the Droid SDK.

Andy Frank, Founder & COO

I ran across this article on CareerBuilder by Kaitlin Madden referencing timing in a job search. This question from the article really stuck out at me.

If I see a new job posting that I’m interested in, should I send my résumé right away or wait a few days until the recruiter is not longer inundated with initial applications?

In this case, timing often does matter. Get your résumé together, write a tailored, company-specific cover letter and get that application in.

“The fact is that recruiters often will be recruiting for 20 to 40 positions at a time,” says Chris Forman, CEO of StartWire, a networking website for job seekers. “Once a job is open for three or four days, the recruiter or HR specialist will review the applicant pool and determine if they have enough candidates to proceed. If they do, often times they will stop reviewing new candidates and interview the qualified candidates they already have in the hopper. This is not always the case, of course, but it does happen a fair amount of the time. That’s why being ‘Johnny on the spot’ when a job is opened is always a best practice.”

I’ve seen many people put off job hunting for different reasons. Most actually fall short on finding something they really enjoy, or end up just taking a job they hate. On the other hand, I’ve also seen job searchers who are prepared and absolutely hit the jackpot when the time is right.When it comes to the good jobs, as with anything else, the early bird gets the worm.

Scott Dunning, Technical Recruiter
UDig

You get offered a solid job opportunity. Great pay, good benefits, excellent work culture. Do you accept?

If it sounds odd that there’s even a question, consider the case of someone like Kevin Dinino, who faced interviews for great positions but turned them down to start his own business, a PR firm in San Diego. From the Wall Street Journal:

Though he spent the first year making just 60% of his previous salary, he’s now earning about the same as he did before, and says he’s too smitten with entrepreneurship to ever work for someone else again.

“I’m the decision maker,” he says. “I don’t have to take orders anymore.”

Had he accepted the job, he’d be reporting to a boss. Now, he controls his own destiny. It may not be best, though, to just jump ship or decline a good job offer. Check out the full article and let us know what you think: take the steady paycheck or make your own way?

I received a call last week from an “Appointment Setter.” Real term.

She was calling to set an appointment with one of their salespeople and claimed that this company and its services could produce incredible results in the “government contracting space.” I told the “Appointment Setter” that I would be happy to take a call from them if they could first produce customer references and/or case studies supporting their success in my industry.

I thought that was reasonable request.

A couple days passed and a random appointment from a random person showed up in my email. Confused and of course not knowing who the person was, I declined the appointment. A few hours later I received an email from the salesperson explaining the call from the appointment setter and asking to reschedule the appointment. I expreseed my confusion and told him what I told the appointment setter: “Show me references and case studies.”

A few more days went by, and I received a capability statement that actually had some real results on it. It was hard for me to discern how they were able to help their customers procure these contracts, but the results were real enough for me to express interest in a conversation. The door was opened. But I started to think about the events leading up the capability statement and the back and forth with the salesperson, and really, the need for an appointment setter. I wondered why the salesperson just didn’t make the initial call, especially if they had specific information that would get me interested in their offering. Why have an “Appointment Setter” call? (Apparently it’s an art form. Check out this Google search. There’s even a book.)

Now that I have an interest in the company and how it could help ours, I can’t help but think of the saved time and frustration on both sides if the salesperson just called me directly. I would been more willing to engage their service from the start.

I understand the role of the appointment setter, and know a few people who use them. But the time saved by an appointment setter for the seller is lost on the buyer. If you’re a seller, just make the cold call.

Andy Frank, UDig COO

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