Wednesday, January 24, 2007

you don't bury survivors

(Overheard at a recent interview:)

So, Jeremy, tell me a little about yourself.


Because they'll roll and they can't fall down the hole. And because manholes are round.

Um, okay, how about your most recent project?

Turn on two switches, wait a while and turn one off. If the bulb is on, it's the one left on. If the bulb is off and warm, it was the one you switched off. Otherwise it's the one you didn't touch.

How big was the team you were on?


You don't bury survivors.

Uh, what was your contribution to the team?

Light both ends of fuse one and one end of fuse two. When fuse one burns out, light the other end of fuse two.

How would you deal with adding a feature to a late project?

A and B cross, A comes back, C and D cross, B comes back, A and B cross.

How would you handle a conflict between coworkers?

They're seven and a half degrees apart.

What programming languages are you most comfortable with?

Sometimes I'm too much of a perfectionist and I expect too much from my teammates.

You're hired.

38 comments:

Anonymous said...

niiiiiiice.

lb.
(secretgeek.net)

Anonymous said...

Is this for real?!

Dave G said...

Hilarious! I got hit with these riddle questions once and it made me realize I never wanted to work for a company that used them.

The shadow... said...

Exactly! Nice deadpan!

Anonymous said...

very funny, I didnt know the 7.5 degrees though

Robert Claypool said...

I've been answering the one traditionally answered by "You don't bury survivors" with "Well it depends on when they die" and when they come back with the notion that you don't bury survivors, I say well even the survivors are going to die sometime, even if it's due to old age.

Anonymous said...

7.5 degrees is the angle between the hands of a clock at 3:15 (supposed to trap people into saying "zero degrees". Didn't know the fuse one though.

lee said...

The only interview I've ever had with riddles: Microsoft. I'll let you draw your own conclusions.

Anonymous said...

I got the fuse one in an interview once. You have two fuses that burn at inconsistent rates, but they each burn completely in 30 seconds. How can you use the two fuses to count for 45 seconds.

Gordon said...

Can you post the real riddle questions for those of us who are feeling stupid right now?

keithb said...

This is beautiful poetry. I want to see this performed on stage: imagine what a skilled voice artist could do with "you don't bury survivors"

Jim Martin said...

I put the questions in a new post.

Thanks for all of the comments and kind words (well, except for that spammer guy I deleted).

bsimser said...

I don't know what scarier. The fact that these answers are given in an interview or that I knew all the questions (and have had them in interviews) to the questions.

DanR said...

OH DAMN! I 'bout pee'd my pants! This was MUCH needed after the drivel I just endured over at CodingHorror. People just don't seem to understand that the guy who knows the low level bits of a language is probably great at embedded development, and yet he probably SUCKS at designing an SOA or similar large architecture. I can't tell you how many useless tidbits of trivia I've endured only to be met with a blank stare when design, scalability and maintainability discussions go into overdrive.

Rocky Agrawal said...

That's too funny. For those who are interviewing, here are my interview questions.

Anonymous said...

Angle between hands on 3:15 is zero degrees.

And it's a right answer. Because question did not specify which hands. So I can take any two of them.

Anonymous said...

I've had the manhole question a couple of times - if you say, 'Actually, where I come from, manholes are square.', it complete screws up the interviewer :)

alan

SPuR said...

"Angle between hands on 3:15 is zero degrees.
And it's a right answer. Because question did not specify which hands. So I can take any two of them."

(Actually, I think it's because when the minute hand gets to the 3, the hour hand would have moved a quarter of the way to the next number. But I suppose you could answer with the distance between the second hand and one of the others)

Anonymous said...

>>Angle between hands on 3:15 is zero degrees.

>>And it's a right answer. Because question did not specify which hands. So I can take any two of them.

Which two DID you take?
Hour-minute: 7.5 degrees
Minute-second: 45 degrees
Hour-second: 52.5 degrees


Of course you could say 165 degrees - supposing the clock happened to be reading 12:30 even though the time was 3:15.

Anonymous said...

>>Minute-second: 45 degrees
>>Hour-second: 52.5 degrees

Whoops... Those were supposed to be 90 and 97.5 degrees respectively.

That's definitive proof of the hazards of sleep deprivation, right there.

Anonymous said...

"Actually, where I come from, clocks don't have hands. This is the 21st century after all."

jarhead said...

You know whats scary, i know the questions to most of the answers he gave...

hribek said...

to 1. manholes. You think it would be good answer to say that it has something to do with pressure of the surrounding concrete (and other ingredients ...).

Or it makes lesser material and work to create a circle than a square of a same side / diameter.

I haven't realized people can roll there I thought they just miss the step and fall down. Then it makes some , little, sense to assume they catch the sides more easily or wont be damaged by edge?

I'd be probably fired I think ;)

Nice questions thouh :) Thanks for sharing

Anonymous said...

how about D crosses the bridge first(with flashlight)(10mins). C crosses second(5mins). Lastly, A and B cross together(2mins).

BillRo said...

Brilliant!

vote1arielkingoftheworld said...

If the fuses burn inconsistently then there is no way to know if burning one end of fuse 2 for 30 seconds leave only 30 seconds of fuse to burn at both ends. I think that riddle is a bit of fail.

Anonymous said...

The second hand moves all around the clock for 3:15 haha, the angle could be any angle between 80ths of the clock depending on how awesome your Rolex is.

Anonymous said...

You do know because the rope is given to be timed at 60seconds total for burning. Otherwise it's meaningless, you're right.

You burn 30 seconds of a 60 second rope and 30 seconds necessarily remain, no matter what the length or distribution you have that satisfies this.

Anonymous said...

You can set-and-forget the fuze thing by looping fuze 2 so its ends touch the end of fuze 1. At the end of fuze 1, it lights both ends of fuze 2. In other words, lay them out like an "i".

iFuze!

Ok, I'm dumb...

Anonymous said...

Question 2: The answer given assumes that the bulb was switched off initially. Since that was not granted in the question text and you were allowed only one trip from the switch room to the bulb room the question has no safely correct answer.
But what I dislike more are those questions in IQ tests that ask me to find some pattern in a series of numbers (or shapes or whatever) and predict the next one in the sequence. E.g. what is the next number group in this sequence (and how long is the group?):
1, 1 1, 2 1, 1 2 1 1, 1 1 1 2 2 1, 3 1 2 2 1 1, ....

unix command interview questions and answers said...

most funny interview I have ever seen but I see the point :)

Alex Le said...

Awesome!

TRACY BARNES said...

Hey!!!

Thats nice .... and thanks for the sharing with us through this blog really we are very thankful to you.

Thank You....

Anonymous said...

I'd buy livestock insurance, barbecue the chickens and blame the fox.

Anonymous said...

Best.
Retort.
EVAR!

Anonymous said...

Best.
Retort.
EVAR!

Anonymous said...

The answer to the question about the angle between the hands assumes that both the hour hand and the minute hand are in the same plane. In a real analog clock, one hand is a little further on the z-axis than the other. Dealing with three dimensions will slightly change the angle.

Anonymous said...

You know years after the other comments, these type of questions are still being asked! I took a days holiday and spent time preparing UML diagrams, making sure I knew my design patterns, plus lots more.

Did any of that matter? Did it f*&k! Because the most important thing was getting divers out of a cave!

Good post.