Are You Smart Enough to Work at Google

Are you Smart Enough to Work at Google Emerald | Are you Smart Enough to Work at Google: Fiendish Puzzles and Impossible Interview Questions from the World’s Top Companies European Journal of Training and Development Article Information: Are you Smart Enough to Work at Google: Fiendish Puzzles and Impossible Interview Questions from the World’s Top Companies To cite this article: David McGuire, (2013) “Are you Smart Enough to Work at Google: Fiendish Puzzles and Impossible Interview Questions from the World’s Top Companies”, European Journal of Training and Development, Vol. 7 Iss: 5, pp. 502 – 504 To copy this article: [email protected] com The Reviewers David McGuire, School of Management, Edinburgh Napier University, Edinburgh, UK RR 2013/2Review Subject: Are you Smart Enough to Work at Google: Fiendish Puzzles and Impossible Interview Questions from the World’s Top Companies William Poundstone Publisher Name: OneWorld Publications Place of Publication: Oxford Publication Year: 2012 ISBN: 9781851689170 Price: ? 8. 99 ($12. 6), paperback Article type: Review Pages: 290 pages Keywords: Emerald Journal: European Journal of Training and Development Volume: 37 Number: 5 Year: 2013 pp. 502-504 Copyright: © Emerald Group Publishing Limited ISSN: 2046-9012 Book synthesis With a subtitle of “Fiendish Puzzles and Impossible Interview Questions from the World’s Top Companies”, this text sets out to explore the evolving approaches taken by the world’s leading companies to recruiting and selecting the most creative and innovative staff.With companies such as Google receiving over one million job applications a year, organisations are looking for more sophisticated and original ways of zoning in on the most skilled applicants and rejecting unsuitable job-seekers. In the current recessionary and cost-cutting environment with many organisations becoming over flooded with applications for all positions, the use of unconventional interview questions and the practice of getting job applicants to solve complex abstract problems has become more mainstream.Yet, to date, few insights have been given into how leading organisations have effectively redesigned selection strategies to promote core creativity and innovation values. The text is structured into ten chapters. The first chapter sets the context for the remainder of the text, examining how Google in particular is leading the field in the use of psychological testing for creativity, imagination and invention. Poundstone argues that Google’s approach to encouraging creativity has led to revenue-boosting projects such as Gmail, Google Maps, Google News, Google Sky and Google Voice.Chapter 2 provides a brief history of the tools and techniques used by human resource departments in recruitment and selection and discusses the move away from job interviewing towards more innovative approaches to attracting the most creative staff. Chapter 3 looks at the effect that the credit crunch and recession have had in mainstreaming unconventional interviewing approaches. One such approach outlined relates to the “airport test”, which asks interviewers to “Just think about if you got stuck in an airport with the (job candidate), on a long layover on a business trip.Would you be happy or sad about it? ”. The book suggests that a sense of fun from a job candidate can be quite important in determining their success in securing a job. Chapter 4 looks at the significant time commitment and elaborate process that Google goes www. emeraldinsight. com/journals. htm? issn=2046-9012&volume=37&issue=5&articleid=17089641&show=html&view=printarticle&nolog=148995 1/2 8/21/13 Emerald | Are you Smart Enough to Work at Google: Fiendish Puzzles and Impossible Interview Questions from the World’s Top Companies through to select the best job applicant.It discusses the need for job applicants to ensure that their Linkedin and Facebook profiles are appropriately maintained to help them secure a desired job position. Chapter 5 is a short chapter that emphasises the importance of intuition as Google, like many other organisations, seek individuals who are not only technically capable, but also able to relate to individuals on an intuitive empathetic basis. The second half of the book begins with chapter six which distinguishes between classic logic puzzles, insight questions, lateral hinking puzzles, Fermi questions and algorithm questions. Chapter 7 discusses the use of whiteboarding and how getting individuals to chart their thoughts can give interviewers a useful insight into the thought processes of job candidates. Chapter 8 is a short chapter which gives readers an insight into a style of questioning developed by Enrico Fermi at the Los Alamos National Laboratory (famous for making the atomic bomb). Fermi questions test job candidates analytical skills and include questions such as “How many golf balls would fit in a stadium? Chapter 9 focuses specifically on algorithm questions and provides readers with guidance about how to answer such questions. The final chapter provides some strategies to job applicants on how to salvage a doomed interview. It offers suggestions such as brainstorming, critiquing, analogising and disambiguating. Evaluation Providing an in-depth insight into the approaches being taken by the world’s top employees in attracting the best staff is invaluable to job applicants, HR staff involved in resourcing and University professors tasked with teaching students on contemporary selection techniques.The book provides lots of examples from leading companies such as Google, Microsoft, Nordstrom and Apple. The book is particularly suited to individuals who enjoy puzzles and possess an analytical mathematical mind. Such individuals will enjoy the challenge of solving such problems and may be likely to grab a pen and some paper to work on calculations and problemsolving approaches. Each chapter begins with a context-setting story which often takes the form of an interviewee struggling to solve a complex question or puzzle posed by an interviewer.The story provides a useful transition to exploring changes in how new employees are selected and how companies are deprioritising IQ and focusing instead on the creativity and analytical skills of applicants. At times, the discussion in the text can become overly technical and would benefit from a stronger, more descriptive narrative. One key benefit of the book however is that it contains 120 pages of answers and detailed explanations to the puzzles and riddles outlined in the text. This will be a great benefit to ambitious individuals who want to prepare for interviews in leading global organisations.In the author’s own words “The great physicist Richard Feynman once applied for a job at Microsoft. ‘Well, well Dr Feynman’, the interviewer began. ‘We don’t get many Nobel Prize winners, even at Microsoft! But before we can hire you, there’s a slight formality. We need to ask you a question to test your creative reasoning ability. The question is, why are manhole covers round? ’ ‘That’s a ridiculous question’, Feynman said. ‘For one thing, not all covers are round. Some are square! ’ ‘But considering just the round ones, now’ the interviewer went on, ‘Why are they round? ’ ‘Why are round manhole covers round?!?!Round manhole covers are round by definition. It’s a tautology! ’. The interviewer then left the room for ten minutes. When he returned he announced, “I’m happy to say that we’re recommending you for immediate hiring into our marketing department” (p. 69). Printed from: http://www. emeraldinsight. com/journals. htm? issn=20469012&volume=37&issue=5&articleid=17089641&show=html on Wednesday August 21st, 2013 © Emerald Group Publishing Limited www. emeraldinsight. com/journals. htm? issn=2046-9012&volume=37&issue=5&articleid=17089641&show=html&view=printarticle&nolog=148995 2/2

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