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Google's Famously Difficult Job Interview Questions

At The Business Insider, Alyson Shontell wrote about her unsuccessful job interview with Google, which has gained a reputation for asking hard and bizarre questions that test a candidate's creativity, priorities, and critical thinking skills. She provided 15 examples from other people who've interviewed with Google:


How much should you charge to wash all the windows in Seattle?

Why are manhole covers round?

Design an evacuation plan for San Francisco.

You have eight balls all of the same size 7 of them weigh the same, and one of them weighs slightly more. How can you find the ball that is heavier by using a balance and only two weighings?


You can read more questions and the preferred answers at the link.

Link via Gizmodo | Image: US Department of State

Manhole covers are round because that way they can't fall through the opening... if they were square you could stand it up, rotate it and pass it through.

Weigh 2 sets of 3 balls
if they way the same the heavy ball is one of the two remaining, just weigh them

if they don't weigh the same weigh two of the balls from the heavy set.
if those balls weigh the same then then it is the ball not weighed.

Google hire me!

oh and first!
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You see this same article every 5 years or so, with the name of the company being changed to the most "trendy" at the moment. For example, I clearly remember seeing a claim about 10 years ago that the "why are manhole covers round?" question was used to screen Microsoft employees. When I interviewed for my current job about 5 years ago, I was asked an estimating question, similar to the window washing one.

This is just lazy journalism. The fact of the matter is that almost any company of decent size has at least one manager who likes to ask questions like this.

The question that needs answered is, "is asking questions like this company policy or not?" My guess: no. This is just lazy, space-filling, journalism.
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Ha ha, I agree with James, but is it a case of life imitating art or vice versa, in other words, does one company read another company doing it, and then end up doing it themselves?

At any rate, I know Google is very selective when it comes to which school an applicant went to. I think Cal Berkeley and UC Davis were one of the few that they accept.

I also think they are very discriminating when it comes to age.
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I found it a decent article but the comments section was absolutely poison on the site.

I always assumed those questions were there for seeing if you can remain composed under pressure. The questions aren't what I would call immediately intuitive. They require some small time to stop and think. What's more important though is what do the questions have to do with the job you are applying for. If it's not representative of the task you might be doing on a daily basis. Companies run the chance of screening out qualified or even more qualified individuals. I guess it's a risk most companies can take but I would call it borderline discrimination.
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Nice article! By the way, I've put together 140 Google interview questions. Your readers might find it helpful.

Check it out: http://blog.seattleinterviewcoach.com/2009/02/140-google-interview-questions.html

- Seattle Interview Coach
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James-

Google has gone out of their way to add these types of questions. Consider the billboards they used:

http://news.cnet.com/Google-recruits-eggheads-with-mystery-billboard/2100-1023_3-5263941.html
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