Are You Smart Enough to Work at Google?
First test: See how you do with this book.
(Page 2 of 2)
Logic puzzles like the ones presented in Google interviews are an attempt to better predict employee performance. At rapidly expanding companies where a person hired for one position may move into another, asking job candidates to demonstrate specific skills during an interview may not be adequate. The unconventional interview questions for which Google is known are part of an effort to measure mental flexibility, entrepreneurial potential, and the ability to innovate. In other words, Google wants the best overall athlete rather than a position player. This is in part why Google’s interviewing riddles have been eagerly adopted by other companies, where the interviewer asking you to use programming language to describe a chicken may not know the answer himself.Skip to next paragraph
Subscribe Today to the Monitor
But how innovative is this interviewing process? Most of these mental challenges are answering metaphors with physics. It’s about rational deductive reasoning.
It’s about smart people who read comic books. For example, the answer to the blender question comes down to superheroes. Would you rather be Spiderman, who climbs out of the jar, or Superman, who leaps out? Sorry Spiderman fans, Superman wins. If everything that jumps, from a flea to an NBA star, jumps about 30 inches, then being the height of a nickel will not affect how high you can jump. And since post-shrinkage your surface area to mass will allow you to fall from any height, you will be fine when you land on the other side of the jar. Your post-shrinkage mass and volume may also allow you to climb out of the blender Spiderman style, but you have only 60 seconds. What if you slip and have to try again? In short, Google prefers superheroes from other planets (like Krypton) to ones from planet Earth who can crawl across ceilings but are still susceptible to human frailties.
On the one hand, this style of selecting employees seems very democratic and merit-based, but it is an assessment of a certain kind of intelligence. Maybe this form of measuring talent is a product of our times: test, test, and test again. So brush up on your physics, your Bayesian filtering, and your RSA cryptography.
Can Google interview prep classes be far behind?
Amy Rowland is a freelance writer based in New York.