The reward for solving puzzles, acting clever in interviews, and penning up a good essay is meeting with ?. He interviewed almost everyone of ?’s first one thousand hires, including the janitors and technicians, and has continued to interview engineers as the company’s workforce swelled. Each employee receives a warning before going to meet with ? The interview, he or she is told, could last anywhere from 30 seconds to 15 minutes. ? will likely keep on writing emails and working during the initial part of the interview and not speak much. Don’t panic. That’s normal. Eventually, he will turn around in his chair to face you, even then, though, he might not make actual eye contact with you or fully acknowledge your presence. Don’t panic. That’s normal. In due course, he will speak to you. From that point, the tales of engineers who have interviewed with ? run the gamut from torturous experience to the sublime. He might ask one question or he might several. You can be sure, though, that he will roll out The Riddle: “You’re standing on the surface of the Earth. You walk one mile south, one mile west, and one mile north. You end up exactly where you started. Where are you?” One answer to that is the North Pole, and most of the engineers get it right away. That’s when ?  will follow with “Where else could you be?” The other answer is somewhere close to the South Pole where, if you walk one mile south, the circumference of the Earth becomes one mile. Fewer engineers get this answer, and ? will happily walk them through that riddle and others and cite any relevant equations during his explanations. He tends to care less about whether or not the person gets the answer than about how they describe the problem and their approach to solving it.

No, the answer is not Softerware.