Not clever, smart: How to answer the world’s 13 most impossible interview questions

99% of the time, sitting through a job interview sucks. When your potential employer starts throwing crazy lateral-thinking questions your way, that percentage rises to 100.

You know the kind of questions we’re talking about: ‘How many golf balls fit on a bus?’ ‘How many calories are in an average supermarket?’ ‘Who would win in a fight between Batman and Superman?’

But what if you had the answers ahead of schedule? What if you didn’t have to make up some nonsense on the spot and could instead answer all those oddball questions coolly, calmly and with 100% accuracy? What if Idealog had the cheat sheet to make those prickly questions work for you instead of against you?

Well that’s what this is: the Idealog guide to the 13 crappiest interview questions ever and how to answer them. So don’t get clever, just get smart, and prepare to move your stuff into that corner office.

The Idealog guide to the 13 crappiest interview questions ever and how to answer them


Impossible question:“How many golf balls can fit in an average bus?” (Asked by Google)

Correct answer: Half a million. (Source)


Impossible question:“How many calories are in a supermarket?” (Asked by Google)

Correct answer: About 20 million. (Source)


Impossible question: “How much would you charge to wash every window in Seattle?” (Asked by Facebook)

Correct answer: At a rate of $20 per hour, $10,000,000 (or, if you’re feeling confident, just say ‘$5 each’). (Source)


Impossible question:“How many children are born every day?” (Asked by Apple)

Correct answer: About 350,000. (Source)


Impossible question: “How many tennis balls are used during the course of Wimbledon?” (Asked by Accenture)

Correct answer: 27,500. (Source)


Impossible question:“How many people flew out of Chicago last year?” (Asked by Redbox)

Correct answer: I don’t know but in 2011 it was 66,561,023. (Source)


Impossible question:“Choose a city and estimate how many piano tuners that city has.” (Asked by Google)

Correct answer: Chicago, 290. (Source)


Impossible question:“Why are manholes round?” (Asked by Google)

Correct answer: So the lid doesn’t fall through the hole (among other things). (Source)


Impossible question:“Name five uses of a stapler without staples.” (Asked by EvalueServe)

Correct answer: A paperweight, a nail remover, a hammer, a bottle opener, a door stop. (Source)


Impossible question:“How many basketballs can you fit in this room?” (Asked by J.P. Morgan)

Correct answer: The volume of the room in feet (height x width x length) divided by .8333 (assuming they’re inflated). (Source)


Impossible question:“How many straight cuts do you need to divide a cake into 8 equal pieces?” (Asked by Accenture)

Correct answer: Three (Cut the cake into quarters then stack for the final cut). (Source)


Impossible question: “How many times a day does a clock's hands overlap?” (Asked by Google)

Correct answer: 22. (Source)


Impossible question:“Who would win in a fight between Batman and Superman?” (Asked by multiple companies)

Correct answer: The publishing company. (Source)

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