GigaOM has a snarky post today on the "wacky" questions that are asked during job interviews. In looking them over, as well as who's asking, I'd actually say that many of these are very smart and reveal more about the interviewee than a typical open ended question. Examples:
What was your best MacGyver moment? –Schlumberger junior field engineer
Why the hell would you NOT want a person who can answer this, if you are putting someone who needs to be able to come up with solutions, alone, in the field? This is brilliant.
If two cars are traveling in a two lap race on a track of any length, one going 60 mph and the other going 30 mph, how fast will the slower car have to go to finish at the same time as the faster car? –Morgan Stanley trader
You have a job that involves making quick calculations and forecasting. Again, this question illustrates how fast you can respond to either.
Tell me how you would determine how many house painters there are in the United States? –Acquity Group business analyst
A business analyst position for looking at new challenges and determining solutions. Hell, yes, this is a good question: the answer will give you insight into the applicant's approaches and processes.
If both a taxi and a limo were priced the exact same, which one would you choose? –Best Buy customer service
If you are in the business of providing "limo" quality service at "taxi" prices, this seems an interesting response.
How to measure 9 minutes using only a 4 minute and 7 minute hourglass? –Bank of America quantitative developer
Again, look at who's asking. If you are in the market for a quant, this is a great question to ask.
What is the probability of throwing 11 and over with two dices –American Airlines financial analyst
Hello? Financial analyst? You need to know odds!
Say you are dead — what do you think your eulogy would say about you? –Nationwide product manager
You are looking for someone who can communicate quickly, powerfully and concisely about a concept they will be intimately versed with. What a great way to find out.
How would you sell me eggnog in Florida in the summer? –Expedia market manager
Look at who's asking: a company who has seasonal product (vacations) and needs to constantly expand the reach. If you have inventory on Minneapolis in winter, you need a marketing manager who knows how to think outside the box to turn a frozen wasteland into a winter wonderland. This question is brilliant to determine those people.