Would you get the job?


Photo Credit: Ariel Shilitz

Can you answer this interview question by a leading corporation?

You are applying for your dream job. You send your application in to this big time company. Knowing that this job will be a tremendous opportunity, you are just hoping for the best. A week after you sent your application in, you hear your cell phone ring, you pick it up, and it is the boss of the company you applied to. He asks you to come in for an interview and, of course, you say “yes.” The feeling you have is of excitement but also of apprehension. The boss told you that when you come in for the interview you will only be asked one question and that there in no one correct answer. To secure the opportunity for this job you must answer intelligently and without hesitation.

Today is the day. You’ve planned out your most sophisticated outfit for the event, and you are on your way. With resume in hand, nerves rushing through your body, and butterflies in your stomach, you walk into the boss’s office, hand him your resume, and sit in the chair in front of his desk. The boss is intimidating. He doesn’t introduce himself. You know that this interview could either make or break your career. He starts to speak and you are only wondering what the boss will ask. And the question is:

“Why are manhole covers round?”

Mr. Ecochard, History

“Wow, umm… manhole covers, they are round, hahaha, wow that’s a good one. The most important thing about manhole covers being round is because if you were to be working at any particular sight to be able to get through there, if there was any kind of edge on it you might get caught, you might get hooked up on it so it’s really more of a safety aspect. So, for safety I would say if people were concerned about safety I think this would be a safe way to design these things, and I believe that’s why they did it.”


Sarah Hayek, Junior

“Why not?”


Ms. Wittenberg, Mathematics

“To fit people when they go through them.”


Mrs. Walter, History

“Umm… because manholes are round.”


Tyler Joachim, Junior

“Because a circle is the only thing that can’t fall into itself.”


Ms. Emond, Art

“So that it’s easy for people to get in and out of the manhole?”


Itay Kazaz, Sophomore

“What? What? What’s a manhole? A hole made out of a man? Because that’s just how it’s supposed to be.”


Mrs. Comarato, English

“Sugarfoot. I would think it would be to fit the round pipes that go under the ground.”


Nikki Jones, Sophomore

“What? Wait, what? Wait…what are they?”


Freshman Joe Hilzinger, Sophomore

“Because men are circular so if you put a big square one then you balance it if a car rolled over and go flying cause the wheel and the weight… I don’t know!!”


Kelli Caporoso, Senior

“Manhole’s are round because they were invented so that when the actual cover itself falls it’s never going to fall through so there is less of a risk of danger for someone that may be down there working if it collapses into it and for safety reasons that’s why it was made a circle and then for just the design aspect in general a circle looks a lot cleaner then if it was a square.”


 Mr. Blatt, Pre-Engineering

“So that they won’t fall into the hole because if they were a square you could put them on a diagonal and they’d fall in.”


Isabella Feige, Sophomore

“Because aren’t they…like? Because round is just a good shape…because it’s circular…”


Mr. Purciello, Vice Principal

“I’m going to answer it with a story. There was a superintendent here years ago who, when you interviewed, he would ask a question somewhat like that before you got the job, and I never understood why or what, and I don’t know why manhole covers are round or why they’re not round. That’s a good question. I have no answer, and I wouldn’t get the job.”


Mrs. Sneyers, Music

“I’m thinking because they are very heavy, and it’s easier to move them if you roll them.”


So why are manhole covers round?

Manhole covers are specifically circular primarily because a circle is the only shape that cannot fit into itself if it gets turned on its side. If a manhole were square, the cover would be able to fit into the hole on its diagonal.  Circular objects are also easier to manufacture and, when transporting the heavy objects, rolling it would be the easiest to move around.

This question is Microsoft’s number one interview question for prospective employees. Most people don’t know the answer to this question because most people don’t think about it, and there is really no one correct answer. It is asked at interviews to see if an interviewee can answer a question intellectually without knowing the answer beforehand. It is good to see if someone that may be in a stressful position at their job can respond to a question in a nerve-racking and intense situation.