## Saturday, March 22, 2008

### On interview puzzles

Michael Mitzenmacher got hammered over at the complexity blog for trying to argue against the 'interview puzzle' style of interviewing so in vogue at places like Google, Microsoft and others.

Here's PhDComics' take on it:

I should add that I've been collecting questions that job-seekers are asked on such interviews.

1. From personal experience on both sides of the hiring process, interview puzzles are particularly effective at the undergrad level, and a lot less so as the level of expertise goes up.

They also tend to become crutches in the hiring process. Rather than asking the candidate insightful questions about their personality, area of specialty, known contributions, work style, strengths, etc. they test for puzzle-nerdness.

I know of a well known quiz-style-interview company that was prepared to make a managerial position offer based solely on a paper CV and the candidate's answer to puzzles!

2. Would you know how to calculate the diameter of the globe?'

No, I'm afraid I wouldn't,' answered Svejk, `but I'd like to ask you a riddle myself, gentlemen. Take a three-storied house, with eight windows on each floor. On the roof there are two dormer windows and two chimneys. On every floor there are two tenants. And now, tell me, gentlemen, in which year the house-porter's grandmother died?'

-- The Good Soldier Svejk, Jaroslav Hasek

--S

3. I have appeared in tens of interviews as a software engineer. There are as many opinions as the the number of people about what constitutes a good recruiting process.

Come to think of it, it is like any other foundamental problems of life (how to be smart, how to be sucessful). It won't be solved in the near future. Almost all opinions should be taken with a pinch of salt and ultimately you are entitled to your opinions, exercise them if you have power or just shut up