Google Skips ‘Waste of Time’ Brainteaser Interview Questions

Jun 21, 2013 12:18pm
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Job interviews at Google, frequently named one of the best places to work by Forbes, may be getting a bit softer now that the search engine giant has “shifted away” from difficult “brainteaser” questions.

This week, Laszlo Bock, senior vice president of people operations at Google, told the New York Times, “On the hiring side, we found that brainteasers are a complete waste of time. How many golf balls can you fit into an airplane? How many gas stations in Manhattan? A complete waste of time. They don’t predict anything. They serve primarily to make the interviewer feel smart.”

Jenna Wandres, Google spokeswoman, confirmed that the company has all but stopped using brainteasers, acknowledging that Google was known for such questions and riddles, recently depicted in the film, “The Internship.”

“But we have shifted away from these types of questions because candidates hate them, answers leak easily and, most importantly, research on the connection between being able to correctly ‘solve’ a brainteaser and future job performance and/or IQ is questionable and inconsistent,” Wandres said.

In September, the book, “Are You Smart Enough to Work at Google?” included some trick questions and riddles to prepare you for an interview at the Fortune 500 company.

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Seattle job coach Lewis Lin has collected some Google questions, like, “How much should you charge to wash all the windows in Seattle?” and “How many times a day does a clock’s hands overlap?”

Instead of brainteasers, Bock said “what works well are structured behavioral interviews, where you have a consistent rubric for how you assess people, rather than having each interviewer just make stuff up.”

One question he likes is the standard experience,  ”Give me an example of a time when you solved an analytically difficult problem.”

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