By MrZhang - Australia
Today, I had an interview with IBM. For a week I did extensive research and preparation for the interview. At first the interview was going really well. I was hitting all the marks. Then just as a final casual question she asked with a smile "What does IBM stand for?". I didn't know. FML
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  Kristoffer  |  35

If you're applying for a job at IBM, you should know what their full name is. International Business Machines. If you didn't know that, then you didn't do nearly as much research as you claim.

  pwclacrosse  |  0

I agree ... except it is International Business Machines Corporation. They (we) ask it at just about every interview - and tons of people get it wrong and still get hired.

  brkn_hearted  |  0

same here number 1, all i knew was that they had computers that were supposed to be top notch machines when i was in gradeschool, but they totally sucked balls, don't know if they've improved their shit or not, but idk. and #'s 97, 100, and 101... SHUT THE HELL UP!!! WHO CARES HOW OLD YOU CLAIM TO BE, CHANCES ARE YOU'RE ACTUALLY IN YOUR 30'S STILL LIVING IN THE BASEMENT OF YOUR MOM'S HOUSE AND SHE STILL PICKS OUT YOUR CLOTHES FOR THE NEXT DAY AND LAYS THEM OUT ON YOUR BED!!!! DO YOU SLEEP WITH A NIGHTLIGHT TOO!?!?!? and who the hell cares if you know what ibm stands for? i bet you don't know that laser is actually an acronym!!!

  humorizer  |  14

HAL: Hardware Abstraction Layer.
I suppose I do feel bad for you for not knowing what IBM stood for; I mean I know what it is, but I'm a geek (I also know HP, which surprisingly most people don't know; and most people don't know where "Dell" comes from).

Anyhow, I'm not hear to brag that I know obscure terms; I work at CVS, and one of the first things I asked after getting hired was what it stood for (I was too lazy to check on my own). The boss didn't know but made a guess.

I ended up finding out the real answer from the reader's manual. (Consumer Value Store). I'd have been really screwed if he had done a test on me. But then again, IBM requires company knowledge since it's high tech; with CVS, no one cares.

It's like asking a Walmart employee what the "Wal" in Walmart is for. (The creator of the chain is named Sam Walton).

  AUT_student  |  0

Arthur C. Clarke more directly addressed this issue in his book The Lost Worlds of 2001:
"As is clearly stated in the novel (Chapter 16), HAL stands for Heuristically programmed ALgorithmic computer. However, about once a week some character spots the fact that HAL is one letter ahead of IBM, and promptly assumes that Stanley and I were taking a crack at the estimable institution ... As it happened, IBM had given us a good deal of help, so we were quite embarrassed by this, and would have changed the name had we spotted the coincidence."

But good try....

OP - you should still be sweet, it's just one of those throw-away questions, and if you don't get the job over that, you probably weren't going to anyway. Bet you'll know for next time, eh??

  maggy_fml  |  0

actually #102 i'm on an IBM laptop right now. it's one of the best companies. it can fall a million times and still be good as new. noob. and you seem to be exactly how you described the other person xD what a loser/hypocrite

  starberries  |  0

#83, the company is named International Business Machines Corporation, but IBM stands for International Business Machines. You can tell because it's not IBMC.


Little known fact: IBM sold their computers to Nazi's to use to catalogue the people in their concentration camps and the items they stole from said people. IBM is also an American company.

  MonkeySpeaks  |  4

They ask for the simple reason of they want to know the person did their homework. They want to know the person actually researched the company an d understands the company. If you don't know what the acronym stands for for a company you are working for you are showing you didn't dedicate your time. Its a simple weed out process. BTW you're insulting a major corporation. Who do you think knows what they are doing. You? or the Fortune 500. Hmm lets think. A random kid on Fmylife, OR.... The 15th largest company in the US. Think think think. Oh yes, I think IBM wins this one.

Let this be a lesson to everyone trying to apply to a corporate position. Know your shit. Everything, even the mundane. You aren't special to them and you need to make yourself special during that interview. You may think its silly and trivial to know when the company started, or what the name means, or how many employees work there, but to them? its a source of pride. If you can't show pride for a position you are applying to, then they won't hire you. It's simple.

  Hich17  |  0

Hard to be proud of something you're not even involved with yet.

It's like... thinking you're a big man for having a crush on a hot girl. NO, you're a big man if she's actually your girlfriend.

  saint_cypher  |  0

MonkeySpeaks just because a company is a Fortune 500 member doesn't inherently mean they know what they are doing.

General Motors (Fortune #4)
Merrill Lynch (Fortune #30)
Fannie Mae & Freddie Mac (53 and 54 respectively)

IBM hasn't used 'International Business Machines' in their corporate branding for some time. The name itself fails to recognize a couple of IBM's major markets namely, consumer electronics and supercomputing.

As far as the rest of those interviewing techniques they are also flawed heuristics. Such questions prove only that the candidate prepared for standard business school inspired interviewing tactics. They do not prove out an actual skill of qualification.

By  gogg3r  |  0

Concur with #3.

Note to self: Include the point of figuring out the company's acronym definition into extensive research and preparation before interview.

By  nike1  |  0

It can mean several things :)
-Irish Medicines Board
-International Mission Board
-International Business Machines

hehe, don't worry, i looked it up on google. :P


I thought he was serious. I assumed it was some translation issue from Gaelic for a few seconds before deciding that the Irish have probably been speaking English for quite some time now...

  drimpossible  |  0

"I thought he was serious. I assumed it was some translation issue from Gaelic for a few seconds before deciding that the Irish have probably been speaking English for quite some time now..."

Grrrr. Nobody in Ireland calls it Gaelic... the term is Irish.

By  blitzer_tidus  |  0

Interviewing 101: Research the company you are trying to get a job with before the interview. Questions like this are commonplace, and I'm not too surprised it was asked, especially with a company that's been around as long as IBM. YDI.

  RyeBreadBoy  |  0

I agree... obviously your research wasn't quite as extensive as you claimed if it didn't even extend to learning the actual NAME of the corporation you'd like to work for. I think that's a perfectly logical question for them to ask. Did you at least make something up?