January 21, 2012
How to Crack the Google Interview
I came across this Wall Street Journal article discussing Google interview questions. It’s fascinating. They want not only intelligent people, but those who think outside the box and problem-solve as part of their daily experience.
I’ve posted the first part of it and a link to the balance. Enjoy!
How to Ace a Google Interview
By WILLIAM POUNDSTONE
Imagine a man named Jim. He’s applying for a job at Google. Jim knows that the odds are stacked
against him. Google receives a million job applications a year. It’s estimated that only about 1 in 130 applications results in a job. By comparison, about 1 in 14 high-school students applying to Harvard gets accepted.
Jim’s first interviewer is late and sweaty: He’s biked to work. He starts with some polite questions about Jim’s work history. Jim eagerly explains his short career. The interviewer doesn’t look at him. He’s tapping away at his laptop, taking notes. “The next question I’m going to ask,” he says, “is a little unusual.”
You are shrunk to the height of a nickel and thrown into a blender. Your mass is reduced so that your density is the same as usual. The blades start moving in 60 seconds. What do you do?
The interviewer looks up from his laptop, grinning like a maniac with a new toy.
“I would take the change in my pocket and throw it into the blender motor to jam it,” Jim says.
The interviewer’s tapping resumes. “The inside of a blender is sealed,” he counters, with the air of someone who’s heard it all before. “If you could throw pocket change into the mechanism, then your smoothie would leak into it.”
“Right… um… I would take off my belt and shirt, then. I’d tear the shirt into strips to make a rope, with the belt, too, maybe. Then I’d tie my shoes to the end of the rope and use it like a lasso.”
Furious key clicks.
“I don’t mean a lasso,” Jim plows on. “What are those things Argentinian cowboys throw? It’s like a weight at the end of a rope.”
No answer. Jim now realizes that his idea is lame, but he feels compelled to complete it. “I’d throw the weights over the top of the blender jar. Then I’d climb out.”
“The ‘weights’ are just your shoes,” the interviewer says. “How would they support your body’s weight? You weigh more than your shoes do.”
Jim doesn’t know. That’s the end of it. The interviewer begins ticking off quibbles one by one. He isn’t sure whether Jim’s shirt—shrunken with the rest of him—could be made into a rope that would be long enough. Once Jim got to the top of the jar—if he got there—how would he get down again? Could he realistically make a rope in 60 seconds?
Jacqui Murray is the editor of a technology curriculum for K-fifth grade and author of two technology training books for middle school. She wrote Building a Midshipman, the story of her daughter’s journey from high school to United States Naval Academy midshipman. She is webmaster for five blogs, an Amazon Vine Voice book reviewer, a tech columnist for Examiner.com, Editorial Review Board member for ISTE’s Journal for Computing Teachers, IMS tech expert, and a weekly contributor to Write Anything. Currently, she’s seeking representation for a techno-thriller Any suggestions? Contact Jacqui at her writing office, WordDreams, or her tech lab, Ask a Tech Teacher.