Application Questions Explained Part I

Rough data collected from customers and applicants who’ve taken our questionnaire over past 6 years.


Correct answers are boldfaced.

How many hours a week does CEO of Walmart work?
a) 100
b) 70
c) 30

Note: answer b is acceptable but not best answer.

Purpose of the question is to see if applicant is capable of empathy (can you imagine what it’s like to run Walmart); to gauge how likely applicant is to steal (how easily driven to envy); to get a sense of applicant work ethic and ability to think without bias (can you be fair to someone you don’t like).

Those who answer 30 hours a week are, without exception, incapable of empathy, are crippled by envy, and hate any kind of work.  They see the world as unfair, so why bother.  We’ll occasionally hire these people for part-time positions if they can do the job well enough.  Those who write in their own answer “20” or “zero” are, without exception, batshit crazy and will spend most of their lives either in poverty or among the working poor. We won’t go near these people.

Someone who answers “100 hours a week” isn’t necessarily capable of empathy…nor has good work ethic. For instance, an upper-middle class kid with parents who work as executives at Amazon sees first-hand the 80 hour work weeks they put in.  Unlike those who live in a world where 40 hours is a normal work week, he doesn’t need to empathize to answer correctly.  In another instance, a graduate of Northwestern University (an elite school) aced our application test.  But his resume showed that he hadn’t done much since graduating 6 years ago, he’s a lazy piece of shit (and he knows it).  But he answered the above question correctly because he was exposed, at Northwestern University, to the work ethic people are capable of having.

Those who have been exposed to highest levels of competition are more likely to answer “100 hours” because they know what it takes to compete at such levels.

Owner teaches you to make something one way. Manager teaches you to do it another way. You’re working with the manager, owner is watching. Whose way do you follow? 
a) Manager’s
b) Owner’s
c) Do your own thing, show them you’re a superstar!

When manager is working, it’s her space and staff are to follow her direction, even if owner doesn’t like what’s happening.  Manager’s are given autonomy to do what they think is best.  Owner will discuss with manager if he doesn’t like her work.


Jane walks in and orders two 32 oz jars of juice, which will take you 15 minutes to make. Jared walks in immediately after she places her order and orders a small juice, which takes 2 minutes to make. Sam enters immediately after Jared places his order and orders a smoothie, which takes 30 seconds to make, whom do you serve first?
a) Jane
b) Jared
c) Sam

An empathy question.  Jane expects a long wait.  Having her wait 15 versus 20 minutes isn’t going to matter, won’t feel any different to her.  Neither Jared nor Sam expect to wait 20 minutes, they’re expecting to be out within 5 minutes.  Employees are expected to work with and manage customer expectations.


Cassie’s daughter is throwing ice cubes at other customers. What do you do?
a) Tell them to “get the fuck out.”
b) Politely ask Cassie to tell her daughter to stop
c) Throw ice cubes at them.

This happened at another restaurant.  Manager chose “b” and customer responded with verbal altercation, creating an even bigger scene.   Customer does this because most people choose “b” when she pulls this kind of shit,which she probably does all the time.  Best to not begin discussion of what she’s doing — she knows what she’s doing and doesn’t give a shit.

Option “C” would be fun — food fight! — but someone has to clean up.


You’re the principal of the school. You visit a class where students are either goofing off or sleeping. What do you do?
a) Tell everyone that anyone who doesn’t pay attention will get failing grade for the day.
b) Don’t do anything. Privately tell teacher that he sucks at teaching, that’s why nobody is listening.
c) Explain to students why it’s important for them to pay attention to their teachers.

It’s the teacher’s job to make whatever he’s teaching relevant to students.  Students have a right to tune out if teacher sucks.  (I’ve taught at Princeton Review and University of Washington so I know what it’s like to teach).


You’re sampling drinks. What do you say to get someone to try one?
a) “Hi, would you like to try this?
b) “Try this.”
c) “Drink this or I’ll hit you.”

Don’t give people the option to reject your offer.  Try rate is highest with “b.”


Customer asks you what’s the most popular drink. How do you respond?
a) Tell him what you think is most popular.
b) Ask him which flavors he prefers.
c) Ask the manager to answer his question.

Another empathy question.  What is customer really asking?  He’s having trouble deciding and is asking you to help him decide.  He’s asking “choose a drink I like.”  We train employees to respond to questions with a question.


As you’re focused on a complicated order, condescending customer tells you that you should smile more if you want a tip. How do you respond?
a) “I’m sorry, I’m having a bad day.”
b) Smile more.
c) Ask her if she’d like a side order of “Fuck Off” to go with her order…..

First, people have a right to feel whatever emotion they feel: to mourn when a loved one dies; to be angry when violated; to be happy when on cocaine.  Second, focused people don’t smile and focus is most important when doing something complicated.  Third, we don’t put up with customers this obnoxious.


How do you improve academic performance at a school?
a) Increase funding so facilities can be improved.
b) Increase number of (real) Asian students
c) Increase salaries so teachers perform better

Sense of reality question.  Also gives us an opportunity to discuss touchy subject with applicant, to see how applicant handles it.

Increasing salaries doesn’t improve teacher performance, it only improves teacher retention and recruitment.

Quality of facilities doesn’t correlate with student performance.

Increasing Asian enrollment (first and second generation only, no jungle Asians like Filipinos unless they’re ethnically Chinese), regardless of their socio-economic background, improves test scores of even the most ghetto schools (eg. Seward Park High School in Lower East Side of NYC).  How well students do is a matter of culture rather than finances.

Asian American students at a working class high school with crumbling facilities (Mark Keppel High School) score as well as Asian American counterparts at wealthy high school with state of art facilities (San Marino High School).

PISA scores also show that there’s little difference in test scores between wealthy and poor students in nations such as Vietnam and China, which may explain why there’s so much upward and downward mobility in those nations.  Only in nations that emphasize class differences, such as US, do class differences affect test scores.  (Probably because students internalize what they hear about themselves so stop giving poor kids an excuse to fail if you want them to succeed).

When you disaggregate US PISA scores by ethnicity, it shows that ethnic groups in US score similarly as students from country of origin.  Meaning, Mexican Americans score as well as Mexicans in Mexico; Taiwanese Americans score as well as Taiwanese students in Taiwan.  Meaning, culture plays most important role in educational outcomes.


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