Sunday, July 7, 2013

How To Survive The Interview From Hell

The Interview from Hell.... 2 words: Brainteaser. Interview.

Have you ever heard of them, or even worse, have you ever sat through one of them?

I join a huge majority of the world in not understanding why any company would adopt such a horrible hiring practice, but they in fact do.

Brain teaser or puzzle interview questions first began popping up in high tech interviews. Since then they have become increasingly common, emerging in interviews for jobs in a wide variety of fields. They are almost guaranteed, and most commonly used when interviewing candidates for engineering and other analytic type positions.

The kind of brain teasing questions a company might ask is far spread. They range from complex, multi layered math questions, to intricate logic problems to bizarre questions that have no real answer.

If you've heard of this interview practice, you may or may not have heard of super companies such as Google being one of the toughest places to interview for a job, because their interviewers asked potential candidates a bunch of brain teasing questions. 

Like.....Seriously...? ... But wait, here's another

To get an even better idea, of the questions asked, I found this article on Business Insider titled 15 Google Interview Questions That Made Geniuses Feel Dumb listing the questions Google would ask during their interviews.

So, You may be asking yourself, what is the purpose of these questions? Super companies like Google, Microsoft and Amazon (just to provide a few examples) claim to use puzzles or brain teaser questions to determine the prospective employee's ability to solve problems, think creatively, communicate complex information in a non-technical way and to better gauge the candidate's ability to make educated guesses. In other words, it's supposed to reveal the candidates way of thinking and whether or not you freak out easy. (siiiick)

So what do you do when your resume overloaded with accomplishments, a detailed plan on how you can raise the company's profit margin and your stellar interview style isn't enough? Here, I provide a brain teaser interview how-to video, as well as a few pointers I've come across researching the topic.
How to:


  • Show up to the interview with pens, paper, markers, calculator, ruler, whatever, to work out a possible brain teaser. It's unlikely that you'll be asked, point blank, how many times heavier an elephant is than a mouse and be expected to answer it on the spot. You'll have time. And depending on the job and the field, what you do on your scratch paper is more important than the conclusion you reach.
  • Don't be shocked or offended. A question might surprise you or seem silly given the job for which you're interviewing. Don't let it throw you. Again, the answer is usually not the destination. Sometimes the wackiest question deserves an equally wacky process to reach a conclusion. But do take the questions seriously. Don't assume that it's being asked to tick you off or make you the butt of a human resources joke.
  • Question the question. Show your ability to think through a problem by asking a clarifying question regarding the brain teaser. Further, asking follow up questions will give your mind a break and buy you time to help you fully understand what is being asked so you don't solve the wrong problem.
  • Speak out your logic. Listen to what you are thinking. "Sounding out" the process of reaching an answer can help you think through the process in a different way.
  • Draw out your logic. Just like sounding out a problem can give your brain a productive push, drawing it out can help you edit and improve your approach. 
  • Practice. You can't prepare for the exact question unless you're sure you know what they'll ask. But you can exercise your mind by playing mental games, doing crossword puzzles and thinking about big problems. There are lists available on the internet that provide examples of brain teasing questions you can use to prep.

Hey, If I haven't said it enough or you need any reassurance the interview practice is stupid, Google, (in time) has come to agree. Google Says Tricky Interview Brainteasers Were "a waste of time"

Hope I could help! Good luck interviewing!

1 comment:

  1. So many good tips here. They are all stored in the back on my mind for my next interview.