Thursday, June 20, 2013

Google Brainteasers & Interview Tactics

A man pulls his car up in front of a hotel and immediately goes bankrupt.  Why?

How far can a dog run into the woods?

What word is pronounced incorrectly by more than 99% of Ivy League graduates?

Questions like these - commonly known as brainteasers and generally reserved for middle school - have long been a staple in the infamous and grueling interview process for companies like Google and Microsoft.  In fact there have been a couple books about this type of interviewing - Are You Smart Enough to Work at Google and How Would You Move Mt. Fuji by William Poundstone.

Now, it appears that approach will disappear from Google's interviewing, as the company has recently concluded the riddles were "a complete waste of time."  The company will also dispense with screening by GPA for all but its youngest applicants.  Instead, the company will look at applicants in a more behavioral way - the kind of emotional intelligence that is believed to be every bit as important as IQ and specific technical skills or knowledge.

I'm kind of sad that Google is moving away from these questions - simply because I've always thought they were a fun idea and contributed to the Google Mythology.  They are great ideas for bell-starters in class or icebreakers at conference and presentations.  In my classes, they are generally billed as "mental floss," and the kids get really addicted to them.  While Google may have dismissed their relevance, I'm not so sure they are useless, and I think more companies will incorporate them into interviews as a way of screening critical thinking and reactions to challenges.

Oh, and the answers are:

  • He's playing Monopoly
  • Halfway - because then he's running out of the woods
  • Incorrectly

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