I have been presented with these riddles, even after I was a best-selling author. The last time it happened to (years ago), I told the interviewer it was a ridiculous question I refused to answer. However, I heard a story last night of what must be the worst interview hazing I’ve heard about. For an employee being interviewed for a promotion, the company arranged for a three-way conference call. By design, one of the attendees did not call into meeting. The test was to see if the employee being interviewed would speak poorly of the jerk who was bailing on an important meeting with no notice.
I wonder if these pranksters understand they’ve made a clear invitation to dishonesty at the crucial beginning of a working relationship.
I’ve seen “tech recruitment” from both sides of the desk. I have been a job applicant, and I have been a hiring manager. Neither role is pretty.
One of the unprettier sides of the hiring process in R&D is the on-site-interview stage, when the hiring manager (or one of his peers) gets to ask the applicant highly technical domain-knowledge questions. This can be done skillfully or poorly. It gets ugly fast when it becomes a hazing ritual based on riddle-solving.