Interview jokes - Oct 21, 1994


This multinational conglomerate sends a recruiter to a well known school in cosmopolitan Gotham City. They have openings in all disciplines, so they were interviewing all majors.

His job is to try to get an impression of the candidate within a couple of minutes. So, he thought hard of a question he can ask all applicants and get an idea of the candidate's capability. He does not have to make a hiring decision, he only has to decide whether to invite the candidate to an in-plant interview. He thought about what he was instructed at the company before he was sent to school: "ask a leading question" that will give the candidate an opportunity to express his view and thus reveal himself. After a sleepless night at 2:02 in the morning he has this flash in his mind looking at his alarm clock.

The first one to show up for the on-campus interview is an engineer (we are an engineering society right?). He looks like your typical crew-cut Peach Tree State Tech engineer (I can hear the boo's from the Peach Blossom City, is this what the city is nicknamed?) with a humongous programmable calculator with alphanumeric keyboard and graphic display hanging by his belt (in my days it was a slide rule in a leather pouch - but readers may ask me what's a slide rule? I am dating myself here!) , and a plastic pen holder in his shirt pocket (I went to a Tech school in the Midwest and this was our stereotype of the student at the other Tech school in the South, we were not so geeky in the Midwest in those days!).

Recruiter: "Thank you for coming to this on-campus interview. ZX Corporation is very interested in you ... and so on and so forth.... I would like to ask you to answer the following question:
how much is 2 + 2?"

Engineer pulls out his programmable calculator. Calls up his BASIC (yeah, yeah, you CS major will laugh, but BASIC is still the work horse of us lowly engineers in the trench!) addition program, punches in the data and gives the answer: "4.0000000000. Now I realize that if I joined your company, with the new cryogenic Cary parallel computer at you world renowned scientific computer center in NYCNYS, I will be able to compute this to 10 zillion digits of accuracy in less time that it would take me to enter the data here".

Recruiter: Thinking to himself ("an engineer who knows how to market himself, he definitely knows how to program superscalar computers, and he has done his homework about the company! Let's get him!")

Then a mathematics/statistics major with an Einstein hairdo (Einstein for those in Math/Physics, Afro for the rest of you) comes in.

R: ... 2+2?
Math: "2+2=4 "

R thinking ("Concise and to the point. Did not waste much talk. No chit-chat necessary. Would be great for our corporate strategic planning department which must digest a great deal of information and condense it into a one-page report weekly. Sure will be a change from these strategic planners who present reams and reams of data without telling you what the answer should be! A definite recommendation!")

Next a Tu+o+`ng Street marketing wizard makes her appearance (I need to provide equal opportunity to the ladies in my column!). She is finishing her MBA in marketing. She is dressed in a very colorful power suit (I need input for Issue #6, come on ladies!!) and has a button that says in bright bold letters "Polling power".

R: .... 2+2?

Marketing: "Well, for a firm with your reputation, you would not want an answer with a margin of error of more than +-5%. The last time I did a poll for Newsweekly, during my short tenure at your competitor EXX of which Newsweekly is a subsidiary, I had to coordinate a staff of 20 people to poll 2000 people nationwide during one week to keep the margin of error to less than 5%. Now since you are a multinational company, it is going to be a little bit tougher since you want an internationally correct answer. We will need to set up a worldwide network of poll takers. Since telephone is not widely used in less developed countries, it will take a little more time for me to get you the answer. Uhm, uhm.... I guess with a budget of US$3M and 6 months I can get you the answer within the 5% margin of error. And for the money, I'll get you the answer to 3+3!"

R thinking ("Wow, a worldwide thinker and an initiative taker! She also worked for our competitor! We need her! There will be no glass ceiling for her in our international ad agency.")

Next came an accountant with his green shade, suspender and belt. He is finishing up his MBA in accounting and is preparing for his CPA exam. (In the accounting tradition, I should add the following notes which, in my word processor is on a 4 point font [a.k.a. fine print], as opposed to the 12 point font for the rest of the text.
Note 1: this is after all a hip university and you don't have to dress up for an on-campus interview.
Note 2: for the female audience, who may not appreciate this very male joke, suspender+belt is very redundant!
Note 2+1: I realize that in woman's fashion, redundancy is not a consideration [yeah, yeah, I know, I am a male chauvinist ...]!
Note 3: I can already hear the BOO's from the accountants in the audience. That's OK, engineers have thick skins!
Note 4: .....).

R: ... 2 and 2?
(Note n+1: the Recruiter is tired and slipped and used "AND" instead of "+")

Accountant: "2+2=4. Neah, this is a trick question, you would not be asking me such a simple minded question! No, you said 2 AND 2. You must be asking about bookkeeping and how I should keep a general ledger. 2 in the debit column AND 2 in the credit column that will balance things. Yeah, I can make it work. No sweat! Or is it a balance sheet question about Assets and Liabilities. But neah, you would not be asking a future CPA for something this trivial! Ah, ha! this must be the answer - What would you like it to be?" R: thinking ("Wow, a sharp creative conservative accountant! Let's get him!")

Next a very young (19 according to the resume our Recruiter has) Computer Science major (the C in VACET!) came in. She (yeah, equal time for you ladies) was dressed in a nice ... suit (come on ladies, give me a description for Issue #6, I am out of my league here and I am not interested in getting rotten 1000 year old eggs on my screen).

R: ... 2 + 2?

CS: "I believe it is 4, sir, but let me double check". With that she opens her purse and takes out her pocket PC with PCMCIA wireless modem, extends the antenna and with one button, dialed in and got connected with her workstation in the CS building. She called up the calculator program using the built-in i-key-joystick. "Yes sir, it is indeed 4. Now since I have my calculator on-line, is there any question of a similar nature I can answer for you? From my pocket PC I can access any database in the world through the internet, of course I am talking about open database. I believe it is highly unethical to try to crack into proprietary databases, ... those hackers! Not that I couldn't do it. This past summer, I worked on a project at KGRJJ funded by the Ford & Meade Associates to try to crack into their computer network. I was the only one who managed to get through to their basement network of super Cary computer from a dial-up line. They did not even known that was possible from outside! I then showed them how to make their system hacker-proof!"

R: ("Wow, she was able to crack through IT! We need her in our internet provider service quick! We can get a lot of mileage out of her"). Since he was also the head of that operation, she got a verbal job offer on the spot along with an offer to come out to his operation to visit and make up her mind to join!

Next a law student came in. He was smartly dressed in a grey Br Br double breasted suit and carried a shiny leather briefcase.

R: ... 2+2?

L: " You mean 2 years of jail and 2 years of probation. Now according to my study of the ratio of these numbers, 50/50 is not a correct ratio. If a judge is going to hand that kind of sentence to a client of mine (mind you as a lawyer I would defend any client guilty or not, I don�t care) you can bet that I will have a strong ground for appeal based on just this ratio. I'll go all the way to the Supreme Court to make a landmark ruling on what appropriate ratios could be! ..."

R: ("Yeah, yeah, yeah! I am glad that I talked my daughter out of going to law school. I am glad I am an engineer. He belongs on OJ's team not at ZX").

My original story had only 4 candidates. The CS story came up to me during my trip to Washington, DC and thus I would like to dedicate it to the members of VACET's Greater DC chapter. The last one is a cheap shot at our legal colleagues, but I could not resist after the events this week here and on TV.

Now, there are a number of insider jokes hidden in the above. There is one which is especially obscure. If you get them, send me private mail. I will acknowledge the first one to find each of them. I will not post the results in order not to spoil other readers. Time limit for submission of the clues is next Friday when the next column appears.

If you use the above story and your audience gets a good laugh, you owe me a to^ pho+? per person in the audience who laughed, because it is copy-pho+?-righted, OK? This is not freeware, this is pho+?-ware. Since you know this now, I can no longer use it to get free meals by offering to entertain you and your friend. So, by collecting pho+?, we are even! With 300 VACET members, times 3 people (at least), I am all set for the next couple of years around the world... OK, I'll give you a 50% discount above 2 people and will give you even a flat rate above 4! So, max of 3 pho+?, for each time you tell this story... Dreaming of pho+?.

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