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Google No Longer Asks Brain-Teaser Questions In Interviews

October 6, 2015 - Written By Fernando Bonilla

Google has become not only one of the biggest names in tech but also in employment practices. In recent years, the search company has amassed over 100 awards offering proof of their excellence in management. However, a staple of their hiring procedures, the notoriously difficult brain-teaser questions, has been criticized. Now Google has its own data confirming the lack of a connection between an ability to answer brain-teasers and a true aptitude for working under pressure.

Hiring committees or managers in the past have asked Google candidates to answer questions like “How many cars travel across a bridge each day?” The interviewee would be forced to think outside the box and sometimes even resort to answering with whatever number finds its way out first. Perhaps unsurprisingly, it turns out these types of questions don’t properly demonstrate what a candidate has to offer when given a position in the company. “Everyone likes to ask case questions and brainteasers,” said Laszlo Bock, Vice President of People Operations at Google. He also revealed Google’s findings on how appropriate those types of questions are when attempting to predict a potential employee’s performance, saying, “There’s no correlation with your ability to do that [answer brain-teasers].”

Google has been discouraging these types of questions for some time now. A few interviewers sometimes have difficulty refraining from asking them, but Bock says those instances are few and far between. When they are asked, the candidate’s answers are not taken into account in the decision-making process. Bock has previously stated that brain-teaser or case interview questions can be answered admirably by candidates who might not be fit for a position. The reason is certain questions can be practiced and learned without being an indicator of really any sort of critical thinking. Instead, Bock suggests interviewers ask questions like “Give me an example of a hard problem you’ve solved.” These questions that draw from the experiences of the candidates are more of a realistic gauge of an employee’s success in the workplace. Structured questions can easily provide the interviewer with quality material on the eligibility of the interviewee. Specifics can be asked as they delve deeper into each question and the candidate has a real opportunity to demonstrate their strengths to Google. So while you might not be asked how many golf balls fit in a 747 at a Google interview, be prepared to share why you have the potential to be a valuable employee.