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Unloading a 747 Full of Jellybeans |

Unloading a 747 Full of Jellybeans |

I explain how to answer this weird but calculated interview question.


I am 1 of those tough, fun, obnoxious and weird interview questions that I'm going to pose and then offer you an answer for.

Imagine that there is a 747 full of jelly beans. You have to unload. What would you do?

This is a question it's really asked to figure out how you think. Obviously, no one is ever going to ask you download a 747 full of jelly beans, but there are 2 types of ways to answer the question. The 1st way is for when you are going up for job that requires creativity, you have to think creatively. They want to hear creative answer.

You might simply say something along the lines of, "well, on final approach. I would ask the pilot to head straight up and then open up the cargo been and they would all fall out." They wanted a creative answer and you gave them a creative answer.

The 2nd 1 which I believe most firms would be looking for is one designed to give them a sense of how you think from a project management perspective. That's because, obviously, unloading a 747 full of jelly beans involves some work. Thus, you might simply start off by asking, "are they loose, are they bagged or boxed? What's the budget? Is there a deadline? How many people in my assigned? Is there any equipment I can work with?" I'm sure you get the sense of what that answer was like. I'm sure this is a way that you can combine both answers into one, as well as other possible answers.

I would get an enormous vacuum cleaners and suck them out of the plane to draw all them out into bags. There are lots of different goofy ways that someone could do that. Usually, though firms are looking to see how you think from a project management perspective.

I think the ideal way to answer is to start by saying, "To me, the obvious answer is…" And then you give them the project management answer. "But, there are other ways that you can do it as well…" and then you start offering the creative ideas.

For the typical, ordinary firm, no, not that one is trying to hire you for the creative role, the one that is trying to hire you for a management or project management role, offer them the standard answer and then the variations and then the 2 of you could have a laugh over some of the variations.

For the purely creative job, start with what I referred to as the variations then go to the standard answers so they can see that you can think of lots of different ways. But you emphasize the creative ideas 1st.


Jeff Altman, The Big Game Hunter is a career and leadership coach who worked as a recruiter for more than 40 years.

Jeff Altman, The Big Game Hunter
Jeff Altman, The Big Game Hunter

He is the host of “No BS Job Search Advice Radio,” the #1 podcast in iTunes for job search with more than 1200 episodes and his newest show, “No BS Coaching Advice” and is a member of The Forbes Coaches Council.

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