Bob Goldman

I know! You love your job. It may be boring and dreary, but you're loyal. You'd never leave a solid, horn-rimmed, school librarian of a company for a sexy, starlet-type temptress of a firm that promises you wild salaries, sizzling stock options and all the limelight of a Hollywood premier.

But just in case you're curious what it would be like to live on the employment red carpet, let's talk about your chances for getting a gig at Google.

For the average Joe or Jane, the chances aren't particularly great. According to "How to Ace a Google Interview," a William Poundstone essay in The Wall Street Journal, Google receives a million job applications a year. And while I am 110 percent certain that you would stand out in any crowd, the sobering statistic is that only about 1 in 130 applications results in a job.

Fortunately, you have an attribute that should make it quite simple to beat those odds -- you're pretty darn odd yourself.

Yes, at Google, weirdness works. The company is looking for oddballs, and the hiring process is based on bringing out the weirdo in you. If you doubt it, consider one of the questions recently asked in a Google interview:

"You are shrunk to the height of a nickel and thrown into a blender. Your mass is reduced, so that your density is the same as usual. The blades start moving in 60 seconds. What do you do?"

For the average applicant, this is a tough question to answer. For an oddball like you, it's a piece of cake. The other candidates have to speculate. With your twisted brain, you've probably been preparing for this eventuality for years! (In fact, your plan to swim to the top of the banana smoothie being prepared in the blender is not an acceptable answer to Google. They prefer their applicants to calculate that even in a shrunken-down state, the density of your muscles would be sufficiently powerful to let you jump out of the blender. This may be the right answer if you believe the so-called "laws of physics," but you would never get to suck up all that free banana smoothie.)

It's not surprising that an out-of-the-box company like Google is trying to cull out-of-their-minds candidates. What is truly weird is when the same tactics are adopted by very much in-the-box companies like AT&T, Johnson & Johnson and Bank of America.

According to a survey on Glassdoor.com, cited by author Poundstone, AT&T is asking candidates "If you could be any superhero, who would it be?" Considering the 20 calls a week I get from AT&T, I would imagine that correct answers are "Rude Man," or "Super Pest."


Bob Goldman

Bob Goldman is a business humor writer.

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