Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Death of the brain teaser

Google started a fad, of asking its applicants completely off the wall questions: presumably to see how quickly and logically they could deal with unexpected situations.  I have never run into that type of questioning, but have seen it's close cousin, the hostile confrontational question, that is intended to much the same thing.

The problem?  They don't work.  They are predictive of nothing.  In fact most "job interview strategies" don't predict much of anything.  Those personality tests they give you, they have a very slight predictive value, which actually puts them ahead of most of the pack, which is why we will be answering them for a while.

So what types of questions would Google ask?

Google Finally Admits That Its Infamous Brainteasers Were Completely Useless for Hiring
Adam Pasick, The Atlantic, 20 June 2013 (hat tip: Big Picture)
How much should you charge to wash all the windows in Seattle?
Design an evacuation plan for San Francisco
How many times a day does a clock's hands overlap?
A man pushed his car to a hotel and lost his fortune. What happened?
You are shrunk to the height of a nickel and your mass is proportionally reduced so as to maintain your original density. You are then thrown into an empty glass blender. The blades will start moving in 60 seconds. What do you do?
Of course the hands of a clock question has an answer if you don't cheat by saying it is digital :  22 times.  Because the clock is a base 12 system with no zeros (midnight is not zero our except in military time, and even there it rolls over from the 23:00 hour) you "loose" two of the hours.  The big advantage of this type of base-12 system (once very common with money) is that it makes it easy to get quarters and thirds without algebraic math (.25 and .3333 and all that) that is difficult for market place people with limited math skills.
The rest of the questions look like they would be fun to answer: if you didn't have this really high paying job on the line.


Francis Lee said...

The evacuation plan would be a right the bridge still up?

russell1200 said...

Francis: The Bay Bridge connects to Oakland, a rather congested stretch to evacuate through anyway. Maybe you could tell everyone that they were offering free Ipods in Mountain View (Google's HQ location) to get them moving. I am sure that would go over well in an interview.

PioneerPreppy said...

Wouldn't the standard 12 hour clock have overlapping hands 24 times a day? Once every hour?

russell1200 said...

Pioneer, the lack of a zero messes that up, so each circuit around reduces it by one.