Killer Interview Question: How Would You Describe The Colour Yellow To A Blind Person

For this week's KIQ, what you respond with is not as important as how you respond.

Yellow balloons image from Shutterstock

This question is one that Spirit Airlines asks job candidates. It's an obscure one and the company's HR officer Laurie Villa explains the best way to answer it.

"There's no right or wrong answer," she said. "It's not as much about the answer to the question to the question as it is about watching the individual process it very quickly and give us interesting answers.

"They're telling us how they can react with spontaneity, how they can think on their feet and how they can express themselves - it lets us see a little bit of who they are."

But just because there's less of an emphasis on what the candidates say doesn't mean they can just fluff their way through the answer.

"If people struggle to articulate an answer, that would be a bad answer,” Villa said.

How would you tackle this question? Let us know in the comments.

[Via Business Insider Australia]


    I'd first ask if they had been blind all their life.

    You don't. its a meaningless concept.

    colour means nothing to a blind person. you use every other sense available to the person to describe the object (how it feels, tastes, sounds etc etc) or if its a location then you describe where it is (or guide the person there...)

    Last edited 23/11/15 8:39 am

      Thats not the point. This is specifically about how you answer in an interview, and being an abstract question, theres no right or wrong.

      If you answered what you wrote, that tells the interviewer that your a practical person, that doesnt mess about, or sugarcoat things, while if someone else tries to give a description (god knows how), then their answer might be seen as them being more empathic, and someone who tries to make everyone happy.

      Neither is wrong, it just tells the interviewer something deeper about the person they are interviewing. Most questions in an interview are researchable, and as a result, might not give a full picture, so these loaded questions help get beyond that.

        You'll need to talk to the interviewer about the philosophy of colour - colour realism vs colour fictionalism:

        and find out if colour exists or not, before figuring out how to explain it to a blind person.

          While I would likely use warmth as a way to describe the colour yellow to provide an emotional link; the concept of colour is fairly simple to explain to a blind person as being similar to a pitch.

          The faster a sound wave vibrates the higher the sound. Different and distinct notes on the piano so to speak. But with light, instead of music there is Red, Green, Yellow, Blue, Purple and beyond.

          Green becomes a fresh smell, like a forest or fresh grass, yellow the feel of a strong bright fire or the sun on your face, blue like the splash of water or the chill of the cold air, purple the feeling of velvet.

      Spot on! It's like asking someone what the meaning of life is.

        That depends. If you are referring to life in general then it has no meaning, it simply exists.

        If you are talking about human lives, and what is important to them, MP sums it up perfectly:

        "M-hmm. Well, it's nothing very special. Uh, try and be nice to people, avoid eating fat, read a good book every now and then, get some walking in, and try and live together in peace and harmony with people of all creeds and nations. "

    It's how sun shine feels on you skin.

      Damn, that's exactly what I was going to say. Maybe the smell and/or taste of butter?

      I've seen sunlight used a few times, or more precisely, how you feel on different days. Blue being how you feel when its cold, yellow on a good day, orange on a warmer day, and red on a scorcher.

      Relates the color back to something they can associate with.

      Thats an analogy though, and while it works, still doesnt explain yellow. Thinking about it, the clinical part of my mind would make it technical, about how light bends across a range of colors, and yellow is one of the middle ones between the spectrum of the rainbow.

      The emotional part of my mind would relate it to how you feel when you're happy, and the practical part of my mind would use the above with temperature.

      Not having had to chase a job for well over 20 years (and not really having an interview even then), I've never had to deal with these abstract questions personally, but I have been on the interviewer side and asked them. All they are intended to do is get a more personal understanding of whats behind the applicant.

    Electromagnetic Radiation with a wavelength of approximately 580nm.

      Brilliant, You're hired!

    It's like a list of things to do that never get done...

    So, a question that the interviewer can use with his/her depth of pop-psychology non-insight to make a major investment decision for his/her company. Kidding?

      Someone's not getting the job.
      The question is about exploring the thinking styles of the candidate.

    This reminds me why I'm glad I'm self employed and don't have to contend with such nonsense. Any organisation hiring people on the basis of vague questions without specific connection to the requirements of the position is dodgy in my opinion. They are putting too much stock in the ability to rapidly respond (not necessarily with insight) rather than on one's ability to do specific tasks, relate to people etc. They might as well ask your zodiac sign and be done with it. Pathetic.

    My immediate thought was - why do they need to know? What is there that requires them to understand yellow? That would determine whether a practical answer, an emotional answer or a technical answer would suit the circumstances best.
    I guess that says something about me and the sort of jobs I fit into :-)

    "I think I will do very well here, because you're clearly an idiot."

    Reminds me of this scene:

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