Microsoft job interview question – what is the best “right” answer?

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Posted on behalf of WhatIs.com member Michael B.: Suppose you go home, enter your house/apartment, hit the light switch, and nothing happens - no light floods the room. What exactly, in order, are the steps you would take in determining what the problem was?

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Weird Question..If it’s a “Microsoft” tech question, then my reply would be starting at OSI Model – Physical Layer…check the connection or power source..in this instance..is there Power/Electricity in any room…. Our “human/natural” instinct would be to check light bulb….

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  • Nileshroy
    Hi!! Good Morning. 1st. Do you want a technical or a logical answer? - Nilesh.
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  • CalendarGirl
    Microsoft is notorious for out of the box interview questions. In this case I think they're trying to "watch" your thought process and see how logically and systematically you'd approach the problem. I'd check the circuit breaker first. My husband says he'd check the lights in another room and THEN go to the breakers if they didn't work other. Oldest son says he'd curse the darkness. :-) This one started a good discussion here at our house. There are lots of websites out there that have Microsoft interview questions on them but I couldn't find any answers to this one. Here's another classic though: Imagine you are standing in front of a mirror, facing it. Raise your left hand. Raise your right hand. Look at your reflection. When you raise your left hand your reflection raises what appears to be his right hand. But when you tilt your head up, your reflection does too, and does not appear to tilt his/her head down. Why is it that the mirror appears to reverse left and right, but not up and down?
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  • Paul144hart
    Since the subject line has Microsoft in it, find the house's keyboard and press Ctrl-Alt-Del. :)
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  • DrillO
    I can't help myself..... Delcare darkness a standard and carry on.... Seriously though, I suspect they are looking for diagnostic process or analytical process....hairline difference there. Think in terms of the best process to determine what is wrong. Don't forget to take a flashlight. That could be the sort of thing they would hang you up on. Good Luck, Paul
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  • Margaret Rouse
    ROTFL!!! Good one Paul. For those of you interested in interviewing at Microsoft, here's a list of actual interview questions from real interviews. There are some doozies. http://www.sellsbrothers.com/fun/msiview/default.aspx?content=question.htm Which brings me to this thought: What interview or test question threw you for a loop and still haunts you to this day?
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  • DrillO
    In my experience the scenario questions are seen as the tough ones, but if you show some creativity, you can get past them. The "biggy" for me was: "give one good reason why I should hire you". Easy enough if they don't get you stammering. I managed to hold my composure, answered the question, and got the job. Little did I know I would be here for 23 years. Best, Paul
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  • DrillO
    Me again.... I just had a look at the list of questions from MS. Interesting. I really liked the last one though...Interviewer hands you a black pen and says nothing but "this pen is red". I have the perfect answer.....I happen to be colour blind.....so I would say "yes"! HAR HAR
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  • CalendarGirl
    I still remember being stumped by the word "eschew" in an interview test. I couldn't remember if it meant embraced or avoided and went with the wrong answer because it amused me. Note to self: Interview questions are never funny. As the Rolla guy says, "If you've never had a Microsoft interview, realize that they are very different than the standard interview. You won't be asked any of those questions like, "What is your greatest weakness," or, "Where do you want to be in five years?" http://www.4guysfromrolla.com/webtech/012700-1.shtml Here's a good one too...young pup describes process from phone screening to sit-down dinner. http://www.youngpup.net/2004/msinterview
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  • BlueKnight
    I always start simple and work my way to the more complicated. I'd begin by grabbing a flashlight -- if ambient light (exterior light source) was inadequate for vision -- then check for a burned out bulb since they are the most common problem in that situation. If bulb is good, check a light on a different circuit. If that one also fails, check circuit breakers. If breakers are OK call the power company and report a problem. Alternatively, following the line of Paul144hart's very humorous response, go to the control panel and change the display properties, obviously someone has switched to black on black. One of the purported MS questions I had tackled for fun long ago was something like: The band U2 is about to perform, but first must cross a bridge to the stage. They all begin on the same side. You have 17 minutes to get all of them across to the other side. It is night. There is one flashlight. A maximum of two people can cross at one time. Any party who crosses, either 1 or 2 people, must have the flashlight with them. The flashlight must be walked back and forth, it cannot be thrown, etc. Each band member walks at a different speed. A pair must walk together at the rate of the slower member's pace. Bono: 1 minute to cross Edge: 2 minutes to cross Larry: 5 minutes to cross Adam: 10 minutes to cross For example if Bono and Adam walk across first, 10 minutes have elapsed when they get to the other side of the bridge. If Adam then returns with the flashlight, a total of 20 minutes have passed and you have failed the mission. What is the order required to get all members across in 17 minutes? Now, what's the other way? Very similar to the question about the 4 women found on the web site. Quite an interesting list of questions.
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  • Sachin
    Exit the door. Close and lock it. Unlock it and enter again. You will see light in your apartment, though nobody would know why and how this happened. Wait for 2 years and upgrade your residence to a townhome, then to a single family house, and then to a mansion, and then to a .... Afterall, it's Microsoft :-)
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  • Ve3ofa
    From coming in from outside you've already determined if it is day or night.. If daytime open drapes if nighttime did you observe streelamps/other houses also dark.. probability of power outage in area extremely high.. look for something that should be visible (vcr timer/Digital Clock) and so forth.. or simply programatically define light = dark and carry on.. if you still can't see.. it's not a bug but an undocumented feature.
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  • Jbm125
    The best right answer according to 'Occam's razor',"given two equally predictive theories, choose the simpler." Check the light bulb. Jack
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  • Timbol
    Your are going through space at the speed of light and you turn on the headlights... Do they work?? Bada Bing! Tim Bolton
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  • DrillO
    You know, I've been thinking a lot about this and all the great answers and even th jokes.....but at the end of the day, the right answer is the one they want to hear.... Paul
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  • DrillO
    You know, I've been thinking a lot about this and all the great answers and even th jokes.....but at the end of the day, the right answer is the one they want to hear.... Paul
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  • DaveInAZ
    Without reading all the other responses (although I intend to..bound to be some laughs), if asked that question, I'd respond with a question of my own; Is it day or night? That's a critical bit of information that's not included, and it's probably intentionally left out but, without knowing that, you can't know how to BEST attack the problem. That being said, in reality, whether it was day or night, my first step would probably be to flick the switch off and on again, just because it's the quickest, easiest and most natural response (and it doesn't depend on the light level). It's also possible that the switch is worn out/broken or that I didn't flip it all the way on. My second step depends on the answer to the "day or night" question.
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  • Mdragon321
    thats easy always do the most commonsense thing first the most quick and simple solution always
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  • Wolfeee
    mdragon321, the most commonsense answer is not always the "Microsoft" answer. ;-)
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  • Rsg259
    Sorry to appear dumb, but what's an answer to the bridge problem (U2 or 4 women!) mentioned in 10 above? Rob
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  • Deleted
    Bono and Edge cross Bono Comes back = 3min Larry and Adam cross Edge comes back = 15min Edge and Bono Cross = 17 mins That took about 10 minutes to work out!! I hope you had 17 minutes to answer the question in the interview! GAH :(
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  • Vicknesh
    1)Get to the nearest switch other than the one you tried, switch it on 2) If it does not work, find your way to your flashlight 3)Grab your flashlight and head to your circuit breaker, check if it has been tripped 4) If not then check when was your bill paid 5) If you have paid then call for help, and i don't mean the annoying dog or retarded paperclip. 6) Thanks :) -Vick-
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  • Vicknesh
    1)Get to the nearest switch other than the one you tried, switch it on 2) If it does not work, find your way to your flashlight 3)Grab your flashlight and head to your circuit breaker, check if it has been tripped 4) If not then check when was your bill paid 5) If you have paid then call for help, and i don't mean the annoying dog or retarded paperclip. 6) Thanks :) -Vick-
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