Disney, Facebook, Twitter, Google give tough job interview questions, Glassdoor says

Google, Facebook, Twitter and Disney were among the companies that asked outrageously difficult questions in job interviews, including one that required extensive knowledge about fire hydrants, according to a survey released Thursday by Glassdoor.

“How many fire hydrants are there in Los Angeles County?” entertainment giant Disney asked a job applicant in 2016.

The opening at Disney Interactive Studios wasn’t for a job as a paramedic or public safety worker at the subsidiary of the Happiest Place on Earth. It was for a job as a software engineer with the Magic Kingdom.

Disney’s interrogatory made the list of the 27 toughest job interview questions that job applicants encountered last year, according to Glassdoor, a Mill Valley-based website that allows current and former employees to share, anonymously, reviews and insights about companies where they work or used to be employed.

“During today’s tough interview process, almost any question can be thrown your way, so you need to be prepared for anything,” Glassdoor said as part of its annual report.

Burbank-based Disney’s question was deemed the second-toughest. But the most question listed as No. 1 came from New York City-based Bloomberg, a financial software, data and media company.

“How do you explain a vending machine to someone who hasn’t seen or used one before?” Bloomberg asked at least one job applicant during 2016. The opening wasn’t for the maintenance or logistics team, it was for a global data analyst job.

Mountain View-based Google’s tough question had the merit of appearing to be relevant to the job. “How would you go about to find the top five Java Developers in a certain area?” Google inquired of a candidate for technical recruiter at the internet and digital behemoth.

Perhaps Google and other Silicon Valley companies tend to pose inquiries to their job candidates that are more on point than those suggested by firms in other industries, as questions from Menlo Park-based Facebook, San Francisco-based Uber and San Francisco-based Twitter indicate.

Facebook asked an applicant: “How many happy birthday posts do you think Facebook gets in one day?” The job was for sales operations at the social media giant.

“Name a brand that represents you as a person,” Twitter, a social media company, demanded of an applicant for a brand strategist job.

Uber requested that an applicant “Write an equation to optimize the marketing spend between Facebook and Twitter campaigns.” The job opening was for an analyst in data science.

While some of these questions may seem outlandish, one economic expert suggests that such queries have their place. It’s sort of a “what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger” meme as applied to job interviews. This conclusion was reached as part of a study by Andrew Chamberlain, chief economist with Glassdoor, and Ayal Chen-Zion, a former adjunct scholar at Glassdoor.

“In recent years, tech companies like Google have become famous for difficult job interviews, and companies of all sizes and across many industries use challenging interviews to find and hire the best talent,” Chamberlain and Chen-Zion wrote in a report posted on Glassdoor. Brain teasers, business problems, behavioral questions and coding tests are routinely used to identify candidates best suited for the position.

More difficult job interviews are statistically linked to higher employee satisfaction across six countries that were examined, the United States, England, Canada, Australia, Germany and France. Overall, a 10 percent more difficult job interview process was associated with a 2.6 percent higher employee satisfaction later on, the economists determined.

“Not only are hiring managers looking for the smartest and most creative candidate, but in today’s competitive hiring landscape, they are also looking for the best cultural fit,” the Glassdoor economists wrote.


Photo: A fire hydrant was featured in a job interview question at Disney last year. (Karl Mondon/Bay Area News Group)


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