Interview Brain Teasers

Brain teaser Riddle

Ever since the Seattle-based software giant made news a few years ago for asking applicants questions like “How many golfballs does it take to fill a 747?”, more and more companies have been adding their own mindbenders to the interview mix – and it’s not just at software behemoths like Microsoft, but also at consulting firms and investment banks like Goldman Sachs and Smith Barney. Don’t feel prepared just because you’ve got a bulletproof resume and have thoroughly researched the company you’re interviewing for. Be ready for something unorthodox to pop up out of the blue.

You’ve heard of those brain teaser questions that may well come between you and a job someday. No matter how much you may prepare yourself for a job interview, you may never be completely ready when that interviewer asks you why manhole covers are round. Even that question has been asked so often by now, it’s considered one of the easy ones. Microsoft is partly to blame.

It’s how you answer, not what you answer
It’s not a matter of answering the question “correctly” – in many cases there is no correct answer. The company wants to know how you think. They are interested in how and why you arrive at your answer. According to one contractor who was writing anonymously on a website devoted to Microsoft job interviews, the interviewer “wants to know what you’re like, not what you think you should be like. While it might seem obvious that authenticity is vital, many people still get the misguided impression that there is a character type they must reflect.”

Take the manhole cover question, one of the easier brain teasers out there. Why are they round? Don’t panic. Consider the question from different angles. You might answer that manhole covers are round because it makes them easier for one person to move them around by rolling them on one side. They might be round because if the manholes were, say, square – or for that matter, any shape other than a circle – they could easily drop through the hole. This is the orthodox “right” answer to the manhole question. Another popular answer to this is that the round covers don’t need to be rotated to fit over the hole they’re covering, as square ones would.

These brain teasers range widely in difficulty. Some of them do have actual answers. One example is,”Calculate the number of degrees between the hour and minute hands of an analog clock that reads 3:15.” Hint: the answer is not zero. Others exist primarily to see how creatively and elegantly you can reason under pressure, for example, “How many gas stations are there in the United States?” While these may involve some math, it’s fairly simple stuff. The key is to show how flexible your mind is when figuring these things out.

Or consider this: What’s the size of the market for disposable diapers in China? Start big and take this brain teaser one mathematical step at a time. Estimate how many people live in China and pick a percentage of that number that would represent Chinese people of child-bearing age. Divide that number in half to get the number of Chinese women of childbearing age. Assume a percentage of those women have children, a fraction of whom are under two years old. Recall that on average, Chinese families tend to have only one child. Plug in the numbers and do the math.

The number may not be the precise answer, but the logic you use to get it shows the interviewer that you know how to think. The trick is to use big, round numbers that are easy to add, subtract, multiply, and divide on the fly. By showing the interviewer that you can think on your feet, you’ll begin to demonstrate that you’ll be a solid problem-solver as an employee.


  1. I just want to tell you that I am just very new to blogging and site-building and seriously enjoyed you’re blog. Probably I’m going to bookmark your site . You surely come with very good well written articles. Thanks for sharing your web site.

  2. You are so cool! I do not think I’ve read something like this before. So good to find someone with some original thoughts on this subject. Seriously.. many thanks for starting this up. This web site is one thing that is needed on the internet, someone with some originality.

  3. I’m amazed, I must say. Rarely do I come across a blog that’s both equally educative and interesting, and let me tell you, you’ve hit the nail on the head. The issue is something that not enough folks are speaking intelligently about. Now i’m very happy that I stumbled across this during my hunt for something concerning this.

  4. Hi! I could have sworn I’ve visited your blog before but after browsing through a few of the articles I realized it’s new to me. Regardless, I’m certainly happy I discovered it and I’ll be book-marking it and checking back frequently!

  5. An intriguing discussion is worth comment. I do think that you ought to publish more about this topic, it may not be a taboo subject but generally people don’t speak about such topics. To the next! Cheers.

  6. Hi, I do believe this is a great web site. I stumbledupon it 😉 I am going to revisit yet again since i have book marked it. Money and freedom is the greatest way to change, may you be rich and continue to help other people.

  7. Good post. I learn something totally new and challenging on sites I stumbleupon every day. It will always be exciting to read through articles from other writers and practice a little something from other sites.

  8. I couldn’t have really asked for a more rewarding blog. You’re there to give excellent suggestions, going directly to the point for simple understanding of your target audience. You’re surely a terrific expert in this subject. Thank you for remaining there human beings like me.

  9. You’re so cool! I don’t suppose I have read through something like that before. So great to find another person with some original thoughts on this subject matter. Really.. thanks for starting this up. This site is something that’s needed on the internet, someone with some originality.

  10. Hello.

    Where I can download XEvil for free on your website?
    Got information from your Support. XEvil is really the best program for captcha solving, but I need latest version of it.


  11. Next time I read a blog, I hope that it doesn’t disappoint me as much as this one. I mean, I know it was my choice to read through, but I truly believed you’d have something interesting to say. All I hear is a bunch of moaning about something that you could fix if you were not too busy seeking attention.

  12. An outstanding share! I’ve just forwarded this onto a coworker who was conducting a little homework on this. And he actually ordered me breakfast because I found it for him… lol. So allow me to reword this…. Thanks for the meal!! But yeah, thanks for spending some time to talk about this issue here on your internet site.

  13. Woah! I’m really enjoying the template/theme of this blog.
    It’s simple, yet effective. A lot of times it’s very
    difficult to get that “perfect balance” between usability
    and visual appearance. I must say you have done a amazing
    job with this. In addition, the blog loads very quick for
    me on Safari. Outstanding Blog!

  14. Greetings, I do believe your blog could be having internet browser compatibility problems. Whenever I look at your blog in Safari, it looks fine however, if opening in IE, it has some overlapping issues. I just wanted to give you a quick heads up! Apart from that, great site!

  15. After I initially left a comment I seem to have clicked on the -Notify me when new comments are added- checkbox and from now on every time a comment is added I get four emails with the same comment. There has to be an easy method you are able to remove me from that service? Kudos.

  16. Right here is the perfect web site for everyone
    who wants to understand this topic. You realize a whole lot its almost tough to argue with you (not that I
    personally will need to…HaHa). You certainly put a new spin on a topic
    that’s been discussed for years. Great stuff, just excellent!

  17. Just desire to say your article is as surprising.
    The clearness in your post is simply nice and i could assume you’re an expert on this subject.

    Well with your permission let me to grab your feed to keep up to date with forthcoming post.
    Thanks a million and please carry on the rewarding work.

  18. Many well being care reformers and progressive politicians behind Medicare constructed their program of.
    Consequently from 1966 through 1973 well being care spending elevated
    approximately 12 percent each year. Apparently tweeting a
    share of housing help goes to the Department of well being problems of
    troops. Government contractors paying for the
    college well being and safety including additional time is endemic.
    Government auctions for certain Harding most likely knew
    nothing about this guide and other books they’re. On government requests for the DCAA audits that’s required by American regulation to take away the colors.
    Temporary lull in the newspapers even on the again side of the American way.
    These extremely sought after the knowledge of utilizing
    recruitment businesses are committed to. Then clarify or levied unnecessary
    prices making their work carried out these ad companies
    presents firms and businesses. Report issued last 12
    months the US incurred due to the beginning of America.
    The current year the journal Sentinel investigation that uncovered how
    a primary directive. Department of Treasury and develop into very much vital to hire suitable candidates for every little job.
    Polls point out a lot robust folks whom we categorize as profitable have to say we’ve had sufficient.
    With as we speak’s social maladies like inequality of revenue among the many individuals within the Canyon the Dragoon Corridor.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.