Interview Questions

I was at lunch the other day with a table full of software developers. There were a couple test team members present as well. I do not know how we got on the subject. But I started to ask some of the developers interview questions. I chose famous questions I had heard were administered at Microsoft interviews. So I started with one that I thought everyone would have heard about. Why are man hole covers round?

I posed the questions to two of the developers that I like best. One of them took a while to think about it. I emphasized that the decision on whether or not Microsoft would hire then would be based on their answer. Developer number 1 answered that it is easier to flip the round cover on its side and roll it if you wanted to move it. Since I knew man hole covers were heavy, I figured this was an acceptable solution. Developer number 2 was clueless. Normally this guy has a lot to say. But he just did not know. No hire.

On the Internet the most common answer to this Microsoft question, and the one that would presumably get you the job would be, “Round covers are one of the few shapes that help prevent the cover from accidentally falling into the man hole itself”. When you think about it, this is true. But I have seen wise guys write that you could also choose a special triangle shape that has the same properties. In fact, they chose this special triangle to cover some man holes in Britain.

You could get really cocky and say, like some others have written on the Internet, that the covers must be round because the man hole is round. That may be true. But it will also most likely end your Microsoft interview unfavorably. I like some other unique answers to this question I have seen on the Internet. For example, one dude said that the round shape has been proven to have the best ability to withstand warping.

Disappointed by the answers (or lack thereof) to the first question, I proceeded to another question for which I have not heard any answers. “How would you move Mount Fuji from one side of Japan to the other?” This question stumped Developer number 1. However this time Developer number 2 thought he was smart enough to answer. He said he would take a picture of Mount Fuji. Then he would move the picture to the other side of the island. I told him he would not get the job at Microsoft with such a foolish answer. My own answer involved a complicated deconstruction and reconstruction of a lot of smaller pieces of the mountain. Most people at the table agreed that I too would not get the Microsoft job with this answer. Do you have a better one?