There’s no single right answer to an interview question

An interview is not a test of what you know. There are seldom precise answers to interview questions. It’s important to remember that the interviewers will be interested in your way of exploring a topic and giving worthwhile examples to back up the points you’re making.
A university interview included the question ‘Do bubbles matter?’. To show the breadth of possible answers, we invited a theologian, an economist and a doctor to tell us how they might respond…
I’d need to be a physicist really to answer this because I suspect they probably do in some way in the physical world. They are generated naturally, we don’t have to generate them ourselves although they don’t appear to serve any useful purpose once we have. I wonder if I could answer a different question almost and say do clouds matter? I’m not really sure that they do either, but I do know that as far as clouds are concerned they represent the amassing of water vapour in the atmosphere which has been in some way sucked up from the earth as it were, and is then deposited on top of us again in the form of rain and that helps the world re-generate plant life, growth and so on. So clouds in that sense matter but I’m not quite sure that the shape of clouds or the colour of them is actually of any great concern to mankind. I think of bubbles in the same way, they don’t matter other than as an actual phenomenon, but they’re quite pretty after all as clouds indeed can be, and things that are attractive and worth looking at perhaps have an aesthetic purpose if no real purpose beyond that.
I think bubbles are important for lots of different reasons. There are alcoholic bubbles in champagne which would make life a bit duller if we didn’t have them, and you might question whether you want bubbles – some may argue that it’s created a boom in lager which I’m not so keen on. Other sort of bubbles, there are the sort of bubbles that keep people alive and then there’s also the bigger economic question of bubbles. Around 2000 there was the dotcom bubble and we’ve also had a massive credit bubble. Bubbles are quite useful there, we’ll never get rid of them, they’re part of the way of cycles and so on, but I think they’re a useful reminder to people of what goes up can come down, it’s just a way of puncturing some peoples aspirations as well. So it’s not just having the bubbles, it’s being able to burst them that’s important.
To me this is a really difficult question to be put on the spot with, but I think in my mind I start thinking about the natural world and where they exist and I guess in my mind I’m thinking about fish and spawn and the fact that they need to be able to send off packages to other places. Actually if you think about it, how could it be done other than in a bubble because in terms of energy and surface tension, thinking about that, really you couldn’t have a square because to create a square with a gas in the middle physically wouldn’t work, so I guess that’s probably where I’d try and take that question.