141 Questions Thomas Edison Asked Job Applicants

Not to pick on Google today because as an outsider I’m fascinated by what the company is trying to accomplish, but they used to ask prospective employees ridiculous questions to make themselves feel special. But that company wasn’t the first to be criticized for such a practice: In 1921, Thomas Edison was taken to task for a similar thing. Here are 141 of the questions he asked applicants, per the New York Times:

  1. What countries bound France?
  2. Where is the Rover Volga?
  3. What country and city produce the finest China?
  4. Where does the finest cotton grow?
  5. What country consumed the most tea before the war?
  6. What city in the United States is noted for its laundry machine making?
  7. What city is the fur centre in the United States?
  8. Can you play any musical instrument?
  9. What country is the greatest textile producer?
  10. Is Australia larger than Greenland in area?
  11. Where is Copenhagen?
  12. Where is Spitzbergen?
  13. In what country other than Australia are kangaroos found?
  14. What telescope is the largest in the world?
  15. Who was Bessemer and what did he do?
  16. Where do we get prunes from?
  17. How many States in the Union?
  18. Who was Paul Revere?
  19. Who was Hancock?
  20. Who was Plutarch?
  21. Who was Hannibal?
  22. Who was Danton?
  23. Who was Solon?
  24. Who was Frances Marion?
  25. Who was Leonidas?
  26. Where did we get Louisiana from?
  27. Who was Pizarro?
  28. Who was Bolivar?
  29. What war material did Chile export to the Allies during the war?
  30. Where does the most coffee come from?
  31. Where is Korea?
  32. Where is Manchuria?
  33. Where was Napoleon born?
  34. What is the highest rise of tide on the North Atlantic coast?
  35. Who invented logarithms?
  36. Who was Emperor of Mexico when Cortes landed?
  37. Where is the Imperial Valley and what is it noted for?
  38. In what cities are hats and shoes made?
  39. Where is the Sargasso Sea?
  40. What is the greatest depth ever reached in the ocean?
  41. What is the name of the large inland body of water that has no outlet?
  42. What is the capital of Pennsylvania?
  43. What state is the largest? The next?
  44. Rhode Island is the smallest state. What is the next and the next?
  45. How far is it from New York to Buffalo by way of the New York Central Railroad?
  46. How far is it from New York to San Francisco?
  47. Of what State is Helena the Capital?
  48. What State has the largest copper mines?
  49. What State has the largest amethyst mines?
  50. What is the name of the famous violin maker?
  51. Who invented the modern paper-making machine?
  52. Who invented the typesetting machine?
  53. Who invented the printing press?
  54. On what principle is the telephone based?
  55. Of what is brass made?
  56. Where do we get tin from?
  57. What ingredients are in the best white paint?
  58. How is leather tanned?
  59. How is artificial silk made?
  60. What is a caisson?
  61. What is coke?
  62. How is celluloid made?
  63. Where do we get shellac from?
  64. What causes the tides?
  65. To what is the change of the seasons due?
  66. What is the population of the following countries: Germany, Japan, England, Australia, Russia?
  67. From what part of the North Atlantic do we get codfish?
  68. Who discovered the south pole?
  69. What is a monsoon?
  70. Where is Magdalena Bay?
  71. From where do we import figs?
  72. From where do we import dates?
  73. From where do we get prunes?
  74. From where do we get domestic sardines?
  75. What railroad is the longest in the world?
  76. Where is Tallahassee?
  77. Where is Kenosha?
  78. How fast does sound travel per foot per second?
  79. How fast does light travel per foot per second?
  80. What planet is it that has been recently measured and found to be of enormous size?
  81. What large river in the United States is it that flows from south to north?
  82. Where are the straits of Messina?
  83. In what country are earthquakes frequent?
  84. What mountain is the highest in the world?
  85. Where do we import cork from?
  86. Name six big business men in the United States.
  87. Who is called the father of railways?
  88. Where was Lincoln born?
  89. Who stated the following: ‘Fourscore and seven years ago,” &c?
  90. What business do you like best?
  91. Are you experienced in any of the following: Salesmanship, clerk, stenography, bookkeeping?
  92. Name a few kinds of wood used in making furniture, and the highest priced?
  93. What kind of wood is the lightest?
  94. What kind of wood is the heaviest?
  95. Of what kind of wood are axe handles made?
  96. Of what kind of wood are kerosene barrels made?
  97. What part of Germany do we get toys from?
  98. What states bound West Virginia?
  99. Where do we get peanuts from?
  100. What is the capital of Alabama?
  101. Who wrote “Home, Sweet Home”?
  102. Who wrote the “Star-Spangled Banner”?
  103. Who composed “Il Trovatore”?
  104. Who was Cleopatra?
  105. Where are Condors found?
  106. What voltage is used on street cars?
  107. Who discovered the law of Gravitation?
  108. What cereal is used all over the world?
  109. Where is the Assuan Dam?
  110. What country produces the most nickel?
  111. What is the distance between the earth and the sun?
  112. Who invented photography?
  113. Where do we get wood from?
  114. What is felt?
  115. What states produce phosphates?
  116. Why is cast iron called pig iron?
  117. Name three principal acids?
  118. Name three principal alkalis?
  119. Name three powerful poisons?
  120. Who discovered radium?
  121. Who discovered the X-ray?
  122. What is the weight of air in a room 20x30x10?
  123. Where is platinum found?
  124. With what metal is platinum associated when found?
  125. How is sulphuric acid made?
  126. Who discovered how to vulcanize rubber?
  127. Where do we get sulphur from?
  128. Where do we import rubber from?
  129. Who invented the cotten gin?
  130. What is the price of 12 grs. of gold?
  131. What is vulcanite and how is it made?
  132. What is glucose and how is it made?
  133. What is the difference between anthracite and bituminous coal?
  134. Where do we get benzol from?
  135. Of what is glass made?
  136. How is window glass made?
  137. What is porcelain?
  138. What kind of machine is used in cutting the facets of diamonds?
  139. What country makes the best optical lenses and what city?
  140. Where do we get borax from?
  141. What is a foot pound?