Are You Smart Enough to Work at Google? by William Poundstone


“You are shrunk to the height of a penny and thrown into a blender. your mass is reduced so that your density is the same as usual. The blades start moving in sixty seconds. What do you do?”

If you think that what you have read above represents a random contrivance churned our by a chaotic imagination, then you would be terribly far from the truth. The puzzle in question along with a plethora of equally bizarre ones are devised by many multinationals in general, and Google in particular as part of their recruitment process. William Poundstone in this revealing book provides a window to the world of the interview processes where compelling imagination trumps over concrete stereotypes.

Esoteric equations (such as Shcrodinger’s equation, Gaussian integral and Euler’s equations), outlandish algorithmic challenges (such as determining the highest floor from which an egg can be dropped without breaking or finding the closest pair of stars in the sky); fiendish logical conundrums and insane lateral thinking challenges are all employed to test the character of the candidate and her ability to seamlessly coalesce the ordinary with the impossible. While some of them come out triumphant gladiators, a significant portion of them describe their hiring process as one in which they feel “hopelessly lost in space”.

While the efficacy of such a grueling and extreme thought provoking interviews is still highly debatable, the unmissable fact is that the entire process has acquired a novelty value and is here to stay. Hence it makes sense for the candidates to drive themselves into a state of extraordinary preparedness although spontaneity matters for questions reeking with ambiguity and multiple probabilities.

William Poundstone’s book makes you feel enlightened and alternately inadequate. But either way it makes for a heck of a rousing read. By the way do you know ho to weigh your own head? If you don’t just ensure that you do not apply for a job at Google!

I have to admit that I am NOT smart enough to work at Google!

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