When our students go to university interviews, they are warned about ‘the doorknob question’— the one that is asked when they think most of the interview is over. Here is a selection of such questions from recent years:
- How would you define the word sleep?
- Did the Vikings go into the Black Sea?
- What was the agenda of Lars Porsenna?
- Did Shakespeare use soap?
- What is a parsec?
- Please define the word fire.
- What prompted the peasants to revolt?
- How would you distinguish power from authority?
- Please point out Byzantium on this map.
- Did Jane Austen wear a bra?
- What does the word planet originally mean?
- What was the capital city of England before London?
- How does a historian differ from a journalist?
- Was Jean-Jacques Rousseau an atheist?
- Who gave the star Aldebaran its name?
- What does the name Australia mean?
- Please multiply thirteen by seventeen.
- ‘There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio,
Than are dreamt of in your philosophy.’ Do you agree?
The last one was at the very end of an interview: the candidate was applying to read medicine.