Laszlo Bock, senior vice president of people operations at Google, was asked a question about hiring:
Q.Other insights from the studies you’ve already done?
A. 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.
Instead, 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.
I’ve been asked questions like that in interview before. Most of those companies don’t exist anymore. I could work out reasonable answers to puzzles like that but it doesn’t particularly interest me, and they have virtually no value in determining how I would perform in solving an actual business problem.
If you’ve ever wasted an interviewee’s time with a question like that, for which you could more quickly Google an answer, then you shouldn’t feel smart. You should feel pretty dumb for wasting both of your time.
In my career I’ve solved thousands of problems and generated millions of dollars in revenue for the companies I’ve worked for. All the best to those that didn’t hire me.