‘Why are manhole covers round?’

written by Ju yeong Im

 There are some well-known interview questions of google. ‘Why are manhole covers round?’, ‘Design an evacuation plan for San Francisco.’, ‘How many piano tuners are there in the entire world?’ , ‘How many golf balls can fit in the school bus?’ Likewise, They aren’t embarrassing questions no more that we couldn’t think about at all. In job interview, interviewers ask questions which have various answers or don’t have correct answers to take creative talents. Then, interviewees have to answer these questions not like a math problem but in their own way.

 I think embarrassing questions in job interview is a micro trend. These questions don’t end just in interview because The questions  mentioned by many people who don’t related to that interview. And people preparing for their interview try to make own answer sheet and make expected embarrassing questions list(impossible to predict exactly). Especially, They are used in companies needing creative ideas like ‘Google’, ‘Microsoft’ and ‘Apple’. Companies can take people having creative ideas with embarrassing questions as well as portfolio and people having good ideas  with agility have an opportunity. However, People with bad agility or thinking so long suffer difficulty. So, embarrassing questions are detestable to somebody.

 Its meso trend is regarding creativity as important and its mega trend is globalization and mechanization. There are Top 15 disappearing jobs predicted by ’The U.S Bureau of labor Statistic’. We can see that robots and AI will replace the labor used strength or based mathematical calculations. But creative thinking, only human’s work, can’t be replaced and as society changes quickly, companies need new ideas so quickly. Then, they try to find creative talent with agility.

 At first, some major companies started to ask embarrassing questions as originals and setters, the interviewees might be confused. Since then, many companies have followed the trend interviews have predicted the kinds of questions. It isn’t an extraordinary question like ‘How many tooth brushes were thrown away?’

 But as mention earlier, there is somebody hating this trend. although some people have amazing ideas, they can fail the interview because of nerve. So, iI would like to ask to you: What is perfect interview way to solve this problem?   


Nicholas Carlson(2009, Nov.4)


Rachel Gillett(2015, Oct.14):



3 thoughts on “‘Why are manhole covers round?’

  1. I think you choose a interesting topic. And I think relaxed interviews style is good way to solve the problem.
    Relaxed interviews needs to create a very relaxed environment for the interview. Ask lf they can them a drink and have casual conversation before actually starting the interview. Sitting on the same side, or using a round table works well. When sitting, position themselves in an obviously relaxed position,. Room lighting can also have an influence. Natural or incandescent light is the best, whereas florescent lights can often make for a more stressful environment.

    They may also consider doing the interview outside if it is a nice day. When They begin to ask questions, do so in a calm voice. Phrase their questions to not sound harsh. This comfortable environment and style of asking questions should help the candidate to feel more comfortable, often resulting in better dialogue.

    But, I think the candidate may feel nervous under any interview styles. the important thing is the candidate should practice pre-planned activities for calming thier nerves before an interview – their job interview anxiety.

    (2015,3,3) “Top 4 Strategic Interview Styles” careerbuilder found on :


  2. Ebba Lindström 2016-09-22

    Like Solji, I agree that this is an very interesting topic! Even though I’ve been to several interviews and I can recall the “weird” questions I’ve never thought of it as a trend. But I think you are right, that it is a micro trend that possibly could be applied above the creativity and the globalization and mechanization.

    Although I also agree that more and more jobs gets automated I don’t think that the human jobs will be in danger for a long time. The jobs that only humans (in this day and age) can cope with are not just creative but also caring. When looking at recent research on humanity, it’s clear that the population is getting older and older and that the elderly generation today has grown to be a bigger crowd than the young people. Which also can be spotted as a mega trend – the elderly population (Global Health, 2011). These people needs to be taking care of which means that there will be several different kinds of interviews existing. Not only the ones that tests the human creativity, but just the human itself.

    Global Health. (2011) Global Health and aging. Retrieved 2016-09-21 from:


  3. As you say, I think this way of interviewing is only applicable on creative jobs. I think questions like “Howmany wooden planks are in a stone house when one tomato is 28 cents” challenges the interviewee to think outside the box. And makes the interviewer see if they can solve a problem creatively. This is useful because creativity is one of the main factors in this line of work. However, if the job is being an accountant at a firm where you have to sit at a desk from 9 till 5, then its just nonsense. It really depends on the kind of job what kind of interview you should give.

    – Adriaan de Bruin 1639160


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