Thursday, February 10, 2011

How Would you Describe a Banana? Keys for Answering Brainteaser Interview Questions.

You have done your research, defined your skills, and prepared for every possible interview question. Tell me about yourself? What are your strengths? What are your weaknesses? Then, out of the blue the interviewer throws you a curve ball.

Why are manhole covers round? How would you describe a banana? Estimate the volume of water on Earth. These types of questions may seem pointless. However, according to some of the biggest tech industry companies such as Apple, Microsoft, Facebook and Yahoo are using questions like these as part of their interview process, and other companies may join them.

Instead of studying questions that may be asked, just have a strategy for answering. First, understand why companies ask these questions. These questions serve as a test of how well you can problem solve, react under pressure and think on your feet. If you encounter a brainteaser, or an off-the-wall question, follow these guidelines:

Don’t Panic. Remember, employers are testing how you react to pressure. The worst thing you could do is panic or overreact. The worst answer to a brainteaser question is “I don’t know.” This shows a lack of creativity and problem solving ability.

Keep your Sense of Humor. Enjoy the fun spirit that is behind these questions. They are intentionally outrageous, and the interviewer that asks them does not expect a precise answer. Here is a potential question and answer scenario. “How many quarters would it take to stack as high as the Empire State Building?” Answer, “I don’t know the answer off the top of my head. However, using the internet, I will look up the thickness of a quarter and the height of the Empire State Building. With access to the internet and a calculator, I can have an answer to you in just a few minutes.”

Don’t Over Think Things. These questions test your ability to problem solve using logic. Remember, the interviewer probably doesn’t even know, or expect you to know, the answer to the question. In the earlier example, it isn’t about actually researching and finding the answer, it is about using problem resolution skills – and thinking fast on your feet – to demonstrate how you would provide the information if you had to.

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