Saturday, February 28, 2009

Interview questions and poop

As part of the job hunt, I am reviewing potential interview questions and practicing (as much as one can practice this sort of thing).

There are four major groups of interview questions, as far as I can tell:
  • General knowledge - discussions about what you know, questions like "what does the synchronized keyword mean?"
  • Coding questions - "reverse a linked list"
  • Puzzlers with one or two right answers - "you have two candles that burn for 60 minutes. How do you use them to measure 45 minutes?" - no, you can't cut the candle, or make marks with a ruler...
  • Puzzlers with no right answer - "you have been reduced to the size of a nickel and placed in a blender. The blender will turn on in 60 seconds. What do you do to save your life?"
I haven't personally been asked the last kind of question, but I've read about them. They're supposed to test your creativity and, I don't know, spunk.

However, a few days ago I had an experience with my son that got me thinking, and I realized that as a father and a homeowner I have to face these kinds of questions all the time. Note: none of these situations are made up...

You're in a bookstore with your three year old child who has just recently been potty trained. You are enjoying reading a book while he plays with the train set in the kid's section when all of a sudden he says matter-of-factly "I pooped." You have no change of clothes and no wipes. How do you clean up your son without making a huge mess, embarrassing yourself, or both?

You are on the airplane to Hawaii with your five-year-old daughter, and there is massive turbulence. The flight attendants refuse to provide water, and there are no airsickness bags. Your daughter throws up on herself. Twice. What do you do?

You have a son who likes how things "work". One day you discover most of your daughter's plastic necklaces are missing. The next day brown disgusting water starts bubbling into your bathtub. What do you suspect has happened?

You hear a roaring sound at 2 am and stumble downstairs to find two inches of water in the kitchen. The roaring sound is coming from under the sink. What is happening, and how wet do you think your pajamas actually get?

You have an invasion of rats that have destroyed your futon mattresses in your garage and have eaten their way through your plastic earthquake bin to tear apart your earthquake supplies. They wake you up every night chewing on the drywall just behind the bed. They ignore all traps. How do you get rid of the rats?

So, perhaps I am more prepared for these kinds of questions than I may think...

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