Preparing for Notoriously Tricky Tech Interview Questions


We recently discussed questions STEM professionals should ask during their interviews to ensure they’re making a fully informed decision when accepting a job offer, and increase the odds they’re going to be happy with that company.

Now, let’s talk about the questions a hiring manager could ask you – if you’re a technical professional. Tech company interviews are notoriously difficult, so being prepared for both common and trickier questions is essential. Luckily, it’s easy to find sample questions on the web to help you prepare. Or at least give you an idea of the nature of questions. As you’ll see, some questions are just impossible to predict. So prepare for the unexpected!

The following questions are a sampling gathered from Glassdoor, Mashable, and Business Insider.

Basic Questions:

  • What are your strengths and weaknesses?
  • What are your technical certifications and how do you maintain them?
  • How did your education and past experience help prepare you for this job?
  • Give an example of how you applied your technical knowledge in a practical way.
  • Tell me about a recent project you worked on and your responsibilities.
  • How do you ensure consistency across unit, quality, and production environments?
  • Describe a time you were able to improve upon an originally suggested design.
  • What makes a successful team and why?

Unique Questions:

  • If you were a Microsoft Office program, which would you be? (Consolidated Electrical Ecommerce Position Interview)
  • You’re in a row-boat, which is in a large tank filled with water. You have an anchor on board, which you throw overboard (the chain is long enough so the anchor rests completely on the bottom of the tank). Does the water level in the tank rise or fall? (Tesla Motors Mechanical Engineer Position Interview)
  • If Germans were the tallest people in the world, how would you prove it? (Hewlett-Packard Product Marketing Manager Position Interview)
  • How would you design a recommendation system? (Adobe Data Mining Engineer Position Interview)
  • How would you cure world hunger? ( Software Developer Position Interview)
  • Write a Fibonacci series. (Apple Software Engineer Interview)
  • A website with two app servers and one database server is slow. Explain how you would investigate it and solve the performance problem. ( Software Engineer Interview)
  • What are the seven layers of the OSI model? (Cisco Systems Associate Systems Engineer Interview)
  • You have five bottles with pills. One bottle has 9 gram pills; the others have 10 gram pills. You have a scale that can only be used once. How can you find out which bottle contains the 9 gram pills? (eBay QA Software Engineer Interview)
  • Explain quantum electrodynamics in two minutes. (Intel Senior Process Engineer Interview)
  • Would you rather have strictly defined tasks or a more open space to define your work? (Yahoo Software Engineer Interview)
  • Please spell “diverticulitis.” (EMSI Engineering)

Obviously these questions are examples. You will probably hear some of the basic questions, but you may never hear these specific unique ones. However, you can be sure that you will hear other unique questions. The point is to take each question in stride, take the interviewer through your thought process out loud, and ensure your answers demonstrate why the company should hire you.

Seem a little intimidating? Don’t let it be. Be open and honest with your answers and have fun. Showing your true self makes you more likeable, which is another great reason to hire you.


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