• John Kador

Ace the Brainteaser Interview

How to Ace the Brainteaser Job Interview

As if job interviews weren’t nerve-wracking enough, many companies, in their pursuit of thebrightest and best, have begun beleaguering applicants with tests of logic, creativity, andanalytical abilities. Many firms have replaced traditional interview questions such as “Tell us about yourself” or “What’s your biggest weakness?” with mind-benders such as:

  1. Why are beer cans tapered at both ends?

  2. How many piano tuners are there in the world?

  3. How many Ping-Pong balls can you stuff into a Boeing 747?

  4. How would you design a bathroom for the CEO of the company?

  5. If you could remove any one of the 50 U.S. states, which one would it be?

In How to Ace the Brain Teaser Interview, bestselling career author John Kador givesreaders the inside track on this new interview technique. He provides 75 puzzles actuallyused by HR departments across the nation, and he offers tips on how to solve them andpresent the solutions so as to make the best possible impression.

Company recruiters are asking tough, new brain teasers during interviews that test yourskills, creativity, and ability to think on your feet. How would you respond to puzzlers suchas “What weighs more on the moon than on the earth?” or “How much money does thetooth fairy distribute worldwide each year?” In How to Ace the Brain Teaser Interview,bestselling career author John Kador presents a wide variety of questions, and shows youthe type of responses interviewers want to hear.

Why Brainteasers?—What Interviewers are Looking For

Interviewers are looking for meaningful, uncontroversial conversations with candidatesthat will provide actionable information on which to make reliable selection decisions.Interviewers hope that puzzles and brainteasers will help create the possibility of such qualityconversations.

In almost all cases, the interviews are less interested in the answer you get than in the roadyou use getting there. It’s all about process. To that extent, the best strategy is to take yourtime, think out loud, and let the interviewer see you sweat (at least a little). Ironically, solvingthese puzzles too fast may work against you. At a minimum, the interviewer may concludeyou’ve heard the puzzle before. In any case, even if you impress the interviewer with yourspeed, you will have missed the opportunity to talk about how you would use the skills youjust demonstrated to add value to the company. Let the interviewer participate with you insolving the puzzle.

The truth is, puzzles generally make up less than 10 percent of any job interview. Thepuzzles are a small part of the interview process at Microsoft. Microsoft puzzles are usuallydesigned so that there are no clear answers. Sometimes the interviewer will throw acandidate a hint that points to a solution that is clearly wrong, just to see how the candidatewill defend his or her position and push back. A level of confidence is good. Microsoft is verymuch a company that values that kind of independent thought. But don’t let the attitude slipinto stubbornness or arrogance.