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Puzzle Questions at Job Interview

kiddiekiddie 3502 replies220 threads Senior Member
Yesterday, at a job interview my daughter was asked a pretty simple puzzle/brainteaser. She has several years of work experience, so this was not for an entry level position. I was wondering what puzzle questions you or your child has been asked on a job interview. These are questions with definite answers (not those situational ones that are all the rage with college recruiters - "how would you figure out how many ping pong balls would fit in a car").

She was asked - if you can buy a bat and a ball for $1.10 and the bat is $1 more than the ball what is the cost of each item. Easy algebra question in my opinion!
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Replies to: Puzzle Questions at Job Interview

  • thumper1thumper1 75535 replies3310 threads Senior Member
    Was that really the question?
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  • helpingmom40helpingmom40 135 replies5 threads Junior Member
    I worked with someone who had a degree in industrial psychology and his favorite question to ask job applicants was “If you were a piece of fruit, what would you be?” Surprisingly, there is a right answer: a grape (or banana) because you can be part of the group while still maintaining your individuality. Who knew...
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  • kiddiekiddie 3502 replies220 threads Senior Member
    Yep - the bat and ball one was asked yesterday - the ping pong ball one she was asked when looking for a job senior year in college.
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  • bookwormbookworm 8979 replies72 threads Senior Member
    It took me a few minutes to come up with the answer. That would cost me the job.
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  • TheBigChefTheBigChef 618 replies5 threads Member
    My sister, who graduated from Yale undergrad and Harvard Business School worked in finance for many years. I remember her telling me that these puzzle questions were part of the interview process at investment banks. And the puzzles were much more difficult than the one posed by OP. This was 25 years ago, I don’t know if this is still done anymore.
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  • doschicosdoschicos 21584 replies226 threads Senior Member
    It is.
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  • eyemamomeyemamom 5428 replies79 threads Senior Member
    We have candidates take an online test before an interview. It’s pretty easy but we need to make sure the candidates can type, have basic knowledge and attention to detail. It’s also not a college graduate level job.
    I hate these other questions, how can there be a correct fruit?! I think you can assess a person far better having a guided conversation and situational discussions than puzzles and weird psychological questions.
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  • mathmommathmom 32547 replies159 threads Senior Member
    My son got asked the fruit question for a summer job and said he'd be an orange. I can't remember exactly why - but something like a tough and sturdy outside, but sweet inside perhaps. I don't think there's a right answer, it's just another way to get some idea of how you think and what you think your strengths are. (He got the job BTW.)
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  • Sue22Sue22 6347 replies114 threads Senior Member
    My husband used to work for a management consulting firm and they used to ask a question about how many gallons of paint it would take to paint every house in America. There was no right answer, it was just about seeing how the candidate thought and how thorough they were in their reasoning. Probably also how cool they could stay under pressure.

    Back in the 80's my interviewer at Vassar wrapped up my interview by asking, "What do you think is the most pressing problem facing the world today and how would you solve it?" I stumbled through a reasonably coherent answer about the overuse of natural resources, involving overpopulation, women's health and global income disparity, but it definitely soured me on the school. I thought, "Are you seriously asking a 17 year old how to solve the world's most pressing problem?"
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  • bjscheelbjscheel 605 replies5 threads Member
    DD was asked two puzzles at an interview this summer- one was how many times do a clock's hand cross in a day. Answer is 22. She just said "I want to say 24 but I'm sure that's not right." I forget the other one. She thought it was ridiculous.
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  • IgloooIglooo 8238 replies214 threads Senior Member
    edited September 24
    The fruit question and the "correct" answer to it is farfetched, over analyzing. As prediabetic, I avoid grapes and bananas like a plague. They have the highest sugar content. Sorry, the puzzle questions sound stupid, just way too clever to my taste.
    edited September 24
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  • ucbalumnusucbalumnus 79113 replies703 threads Senior Member
    edited September 24
    doschicos wrote: »
    I think I'd find the bat and ball question insulting for a job for an experienced worker.

    Seems like a test of whether one can apply basic high (or middle) school math.

    But then we have students on these forums who have no idea how to calculate unweighted (or any) GPA.
    edited September 24
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  • blossomblossom 9962 replies9 threads Senior Member
    There is no right answer to the fruit question. But there IS a wrong answer- a hostile look, arms folded, "Why are you asking me such a stupid question".

    There are myriad ways to evaluate a candidate. Some are illegal, some are not illegal but contradict a company's diversity and inclusion efforts, and some are tired and too easy to game ("what's your biggest weakness?" which usually gets the answer "I work too hard").

    I find it amusing that the same people that decry elitist hiring practices (only recruiting at Stanford, Yale and Harvard) decry the NON-ELITIST hiring practices (getting a look into how someone responds to getting a curve ball- which is pretty much a daily occurrence in many jobs and professions).

    Teach your kid to smile, lean in, and answer the question any way he or she wishes. That's the right answer- I don't get rattled when something unexpected comes my way.

    And you would be surprised how many kids with gold plated resumes can't do fourth grade arithmetic. My company stopped recruiting at a highly regarded undergrad business program because even the kids who had departmental honors or were admitted to one of the honors societies just couldn't handle the basics. When we had to put our fingers on the scale when grading a pretty basic "analytical reasoning" test, we knew we had a problem. First we eliminated the timing- "take as much time as you need to think through the questions" and then we adjusted the scaling. Ultimately we realized- "massive grade inflation" and just headed somewhere else.

    UCB- Yes- I love the "what's my GPA" questions on CC!!!
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  • ProfessorPlum168ProfessorPlum168 4169 replies89 threads Senior Member
    Years ago, I got asked “why is the sky blue?” The interviewer just wanted to know how I would react to an off-the-wall question since this was a professional services consultant gig.
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  • Sue22Sue22 6347 replies114 threads Senior Member
    My answer to one of these questions today would most likely be "Let me Google that for you!"
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  • abasketabasket 19715 replies877 threads Senior Member
    A odd question like many of these mentioned should come with an explanation ahead of time of what's to come. "During our interview today we want to get to know you and your skills/personality/whatever through a series of questions, some traditional some unique. Just answer to the best of your ability and don't worry if you don't have a perfect answer on the spot". Or something!
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  • blossomblossom 9962 replies9 threads Senior Member
    abasket- really? Someone needs to be told that an interview is a series of questions to get to know them and their skills/personalities?

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  • roycroftmomroycroftmom 3108 replies39 threads Senior Member
    I do think one's tolerance for such silly questions declines with age and experience. It is the current fad in HR, but perhaps won't last long. I think it grew out of the tech firms odd questions to determine if applicants were inclined towards using algorithms, a relevant factor for their employees but not for most others.
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