Google, famous for having impossibly difficult brain teasers for in its interviews has reportedly banned such questions from them. They’ve also admitted that such questions are redundant from the very beginning and satisfied a very niche purpose. However, according users of Glassdoor.com, there are still many companies that drive people mental with their astounding questions.
These questions may be asked to adjudicate the creativity, stress and general market knowledge of the candidate and their deliberately designed to be convoluted and confounding. Here’s a look at a few of them and how to go about answering such questions.
- Microsoft : What is the number of gas stations in the United States
As of June 2013, Microsoft believed that its Senior Program Managers should be able to effectively market size on the go. This is, to say the least, a very challenging task.
In order to answer the question, first try to think of how many gas stations are there for a standard sized town with around thirty thousand people. Then take in to consideration the total population of the United States which is around 314 million.
There are more than 117,000 gas stations in the U.S and according to the U.S. Census Bureau, in 2008, there was a gas station for every twenty five hundred people.
- IBM : How do you test calculators?
Software engineer hopefuls appearing for IBM interviews have been asked this question and it is one which has very little in context, direction or material. Your response may need to be as follows:
- Test the functional working of the calculator computing and its accuracy by comparing outputs with expected outputs.
- Test the basic buttons and functions on the device and check for system errors.
- Your response and the amount of detail in your response will depend on the position that you will be interviewing for, so if you’re going for something very technical, they may want you to explain in incredible detail.
- IBM : What is the number of golf balls in the state of Florida?
Another mind numbing question from the IBM stables, this was thrown to operations specialist candidates during a May 2013 interview and if you’re a graduate from an MBA college in Gurgaon or elsewhere then there may be a similar question asked of you as well.
Again, take rough estimate of the U.S population and then factor in the percentage of Americans that would play golf. Then think of the number of balls that each player would be using per year and then add around fifty percent for old balls and unused balls.
The number you should be arriving at would be around 3 billion and as 7% of America’s golf courses are in Florida, there would be around 210 million to 250 million golf balls in Florida.
- JP Morgan : What is the number of street lights in New York City?
If the IBM questions were hard to respond to, the JP Morgan is pretty much the same. To answer the question, first ball-park the number of lights in an ordered grid square of Manhattan. Then ball-park the number of vertical and horizontal blocks and then the amount of lights in each of them. After that, multiply it five times to account for the five boroughs and you will come at a figure of around three hundred thousand street lights in New York City.
- Epic Systems : An apple costs 40 cents, a banana cost 60 cents and a grapefruit costs 80 cents, how much does a pear cost?
Here’s something that MBA colleges in Gurgaon won’t teach you, this charming riddle was asked of project managers and implementation consultant candidates appearing for interviews at Epic Systems, a healthcare technology firm.
The only way contrivable to solve such a riddle would be as follows:
If a vowel costs 20 cents, then the two voweled apple will cost 40 cents and the three voweled banana would cost 60 cents. Pear being a two vowel fruit, would also cost 40 cents.
Inspiration for this answer is taken from the Wheel Of Fortune.
Arthur Hall is a career consultant who has worked with graduates for the past twenty years in helping them prepare for interviews in the right manner. Arthur emphasizing that being able to stay calm and think on the spot is crucial for those who wish to succeed in interviews and spends his time coaching candidates on how to remain so. Arthur says that even those from the most prestigious MBA colleges in Gurgaon or elsewhere have to go for interviews and it is important to prepare for them.