I have a degree in computer engineer and 5 years of experience, what I have to say:
1. In the interview process I always feel really hard to know how deep I should go in the answer... I had the same design an short url service in two different companies, one complained that I went too deep and didn't talked about the thing on a system level too much. Other said I didn't went too deep and looked like over heardish as I focused on the system level.
2. I've studied a lot of algorithms and data structure as every company thinks they are google and asks for big o notations, algorithms optimisations, implement a tree, reverse a tree blablabla. This part was the easiest in all companies as I "gamed" the system by studying it weeks in advance. Does it make me a better developer? Probably not, I already knew that stuff but if you asked me to go deep in those questions when it wasn't fresh in my mind I wouldn't be able to develop an answer. I am pretty sure that 6 months from now I won't be able to answer them in a satisfactory manner
3. I had the same singleton question and I didn't answer correctly, gave an answer like you said. Basically, I know what a singleton is, I've used this pattern in the past. Even in a C++ embedded systems app running in a touchscreen + ARM.
But, please, don't ask me nuances about it. If I really wanted I could just game it as well by reading some cracking the interview questions on design patterns.
The best interviews I had were a CHAT where I talked about previous project, challenges and etc.
Not some question / answer quiz game where the interviewer is in a position of authority and I am always concerned that I am giving the answer he is expecting.
A test who's only flaw is that motivated individuals with good problem solving skills could "game" if they worked hard enough?
That sounds like a good tool for finding strong candidates to me.
We will do a basic phone interview, to seek out what they know about the areas we work in and then dig - explain how it works and why how we would use it?
Then its a technical test if they pass the phone interview. Now demonstrate some the concepts we previously talked about.