The above headline and artwork caught my eye as I was reading today’s Wall Street Journal.  Author William Poundstone poses some of the actual questions raised during coveted Google interviews.  It’s now clear why one in 14 high school students applying to Harvard is accepted while only about one in 130 applicants lands a job at Google.

During one of my first corporate interviews, I’ll never forget being asked a series of strange questions, but none were as thought provoking and tough as those being asked by some companies today.  OK, perhaps the sick question posed to me many years ago asking if I would be upset seeing a mean dog on fire was thought provoking albeit extremely weird.  After reading the questions below, you’ll get the point:  expect the unexpected in job interview questions.  If you don’t know the right answer, at least be creative with your response.  BTW, I missed all but the balloon question (but that one was asked at Microsoft, not Google).

The article and Poundstone’s book, Are You Smart Enough to Work at Google, point out the importance to be prepared for the unexpected in all interview situations.  Interview advice has been covered here in over 60 posts such as 8 Tips for Acing a PR Job Interview and  Be Prepared for 12 FAQs Being prepared for the dozen basic questions isn’t enough today if you consider the following Google question:

You are shrunk to the height of a nickle and thrown in a blender.  The blades are about to start.  What do you do?

Answer:  In short, if were you shrunk to 1/10 your present height, your muscles would be only 1/100 as powerful—but you’d weigh a mere 1/1,000 as much. All else being equal, small creatures are “stronger” in lifting their bodies against gravity. Were you shrunk to nickel size, you’d be strong enough to leap like Superman, right out of the blender. Think of the feats performed by fleas in a flea circus.

If you face similarly tough interview questions, do what Poundstone suggests, begin your response with “it depends. . . .”