This was the strangest job interview I ever had. I was interviewing for a position as an engineer at a US based tire manufacturing plant. The interview started pretty normally, and then the interviewer says "please follow me". I'm all dressed up in suit and tie. He walks me into the basement of the building where there were eight large 10x10" timbers, each maybe six or seven feet long. There were two other observers there. He handed me a clipboard, and said you are to supervise the building of this cube structure, using these two workers.
The clipboard had a drawing with a structure looked pretty much like this... (obviously without the swimsuit models and yellow awning...) Each timber was six or seven feet long. They were notched at the ends and drilled for large metal locking pins. Pins were included.
The stated goal of the exercise was to get the structure complete in as quick a time as possible, while still being safe. He gives me gloves and hard hats. We started into it, and I realized it was really a three person hands-on job. I jumped in grabbed the timber lifted it over my head and placed it into position. The doggone things weight 60 or 70 lbs each. All the other beams could be pre-assembled and then tilted from the ground, but not the last two, at least not that I could figure out. Oh well.
I did ask for advice, they absolutely remained silent. We could have easily built the thing upside down, but the clipboard guide showed it right side up. I have thought about alternative building methods (i.e. lean one side up against the wall, and that would have gotten us closer to completion, but that's still a bit unsafe... Note, I was coming out of the military where the mission was get it done, and I took the (remote) risk, not anyone else... I knew I could press 70 lbs easily... even while wearing a suit.
As it turns out I was leaving the US Army Combat Engineers, so I had a lot of familiarity with some of this stuff. At no time did I place either of the two volunteers even remotely at risk. And it wasn't clear to me if they wanted "salaried" folks to get their hands dirty when necessary. This was not a union labor force. At the time, I thought that was part of the test. I was totally in "get it done" mode.
We built the thing quickly, but I did NOT get the job offer. I have no clue what they were really looking for. It was a very odd interview. (Turns out I think I lucked out not working there... that plant had massive layoffs one year later... er... the grapes were probably sour?)
- Has anybody ever seen a similar exercise at a job interview?
- What skills and traits are the interviewers really looking for?
- Is there a better way to address / prepare for such an odd interview?
- How does one do well?