Bizarre Tech Job Interview Questions

Blazestorm

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If you could use a weighing station, why would you need the semi?

I dunno, makes it easier to transport?...

Plus there might be anti-elephant police and you gotta sneak it by without them noticing :confused:

I honestly have no idea... haha...
 
Joined
Nov 24, 2007
Messages
574
eh, look. no doubt most of you have worked with stupid people at one time.
all of these questions appear to me to be a method of weeding them out.
you may not have to get the questions right, as long as you can give some type of intelligent answer

probably a lot of these are questions you see in IQ tests.
I doubt companies can give an IQ test, I don't think it is illegal to discriminate based on an IQ test
but it is certainly not the type of thing that would attract good applicants.

Yes, I do see what you are saying. I have worked with some ... questionable people, nonetheless. However, this does not necessarily mean that they are incapable of logical reasoning. As for these questions, I too feel like they are a good method of weeding out people ... To a certain extent. Someone who has a high intelligence level may not necessary grasp the scope of the question, nor approach it in the supposedly logical manner in which it is meant.
 

nalc

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I think the "minimum number of guesses" one is pretty good.

Sometimes, the answer is trivial, and they might want a person who is able to see through it and avoid over-complicating it.

Especially with engineers. Many engineers love to jump into the math without fully analyzing the question first.

I was joking around with my roommate (we're both engineers). I told him that I bet he couldn't correctly solve a basic electronics problem. He, of course, takes the challenge. I proposed the following situation: You have a 9v battery hooked up to one coil of a transformer, which has 270 windings. The other coil of the transformer has 500 windings. What voltage will be measured across the other coil?

He immediately whips out his calculator and answers "Fifteen volts". I told him he was wrong. He spent twenty minutes re-doing his math and asking our friend who was with us, and he tried all sorts of manipulations to the equation, guessing wrong every time.

Finally, he told me that it had to be 15v, he had double-checked everything and looked up the equations. I told him "There's no voltage across the other coil. Batteries are DC, not AC."

If we had been working on an actual engineering project together, that simple mistake would have been terrible. He would have spent a whole bunch of time designing and prototyping a step-up transformer for a 9v battery.

Any engineer can answer the 1,000 number guessing problem by thinking "Well, I eliminate 500 possibilities on the first guess, 250 possibilities on the second guess, 125 possibilities on the third guess" and so on until there's one possibility. And he'd be one smart guy, with perfect math, but his answer would still be wrong because he didn't understand the question properly. If you guess it correctly on the first guess, then you only needed one.
 

JamesL

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Nov 7, 2007
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657
I completely disagree..
The first question has nothing to do with finding the 'simplest answer and not overcomplicating things'..

As a human being, you should be able to make intelligent assumptions..
As a computer scientist, you should intelligently assume that "how many guesses" doesn't mean a guess in the literal sense, but the minimum "guesses" or steps that a algorithm must have in order to effectively traverse through the entire list.

Likewise, if your EE teacher asked you something like.. "what do you get on the secondaries of a transformer with 1:6 winding given 120v on the primaries.." and you answered with something idiotic like "voltage" .. it wouldn't get you anywhere.


hawtrawkr: and sorry the E-Peen continues to grow and grow! :rolleyes:

Stop it, you're embarrassing yourself.
 

acidic

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952
I agree with JamesL, the first question is definitely testing binary search.

But I still don't quite see how you get <3 steps on the penny problem though
 

travbrad

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The question is asking for a generic solution to the problem. As in, what is the most optimized way to search for a number in a range of sorted numbers? What is the minimum number of guesses it will take that you can guaranteed?

Yes the question becomes quite clear when you completely re-word it. I didn't see the word guaranteed in the original question though.
 

Synful Serenity

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Maybe if it definitely was a programming position, then one would be expected to infer binary search was what they were looking for, but since many of these brainteaser-type questions are used in general professional interviews, I would expect a qualifier such as "minimum number of guesses required to find ANY number selected" or "maximum guesses using efficient solution" or something, if nothing else than to rule out the expectation of a "trick" answer (like a lot of these questions have).

Besides, majority of the time they are not interested in the numerical answer you give, but rather your thought process, analytical approach, and ability to communicate clearly (probably most important of all) to the interviewer the steps you took to arrive at the solution, right or wrong.

In fact, many of these questions have no real answer. One favorite for Wall Street/finance type positions is:

"How many gas stations are there in the United States?"

Hint: They don't want you just throwing a number out of thin air.
 

Blazestorm

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Maybe if it definitely was a programming position, then one would be expected to infer binary search was what they were looking for, but since many of these brainteaser-type questions are used in general professional interviews, I would expect a qualifier such as "minimum number of guesses required to find ANY number selected" or "maximum guesses using efficient solution" or something, if nothing else than to rule out the expectation of a "trick" answer (like a lot of these questions have).

Besides, majority of the time they are not interested in the numerical answer you give, but rather your thought process, analytical approach, and ability to communicate clearly (probably most important of all) to the interviewer the steps you took to arrive at the solution, right or wrong.

In fact, many of these questions have no real answer. One favorite for Wall Street/finance type positions is:

"How many gas stations are there in the United States?"

Hint: They don't want you just throwing a number out of thin air.

143,788 results

According to Google maps when I search "Gas Station" haha...

Google never lies... :eek:
 

JamesL

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Nov 7, 2007
Messages
657
In fact, many of these questions have no real answer. One favorite for Wall Street/finance type positions is:

"How many gas stations are there in the United States?"

Hint: They don't want you just throwing a number out of thin air.

What kind of answer are they looking for?
 

Dantrax

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Feb 9, 2007
Messages
705
We need politically correct questions like this, so we don't discriminate against people who are not S,M,A,T smart like we are.
 

1.1.2.3.5...

Limp Gawd
Joined
Jul 13, 2006
Messages
511
A train leaves San Antonio for Huston at 60mph. Another train leaves Huston for San Antonio at 80mph. Huston and San Antonio are 300 miles apart.

If a bird leaves San Antonio at 100mph, and turns around and flies back once it reaches the Huston train, and continues to fly between the two, how far will it have flown when they collide.

This is actually a very cleaver question in my mind. The answer is simple, but I started out trying to do it the hard way which would be to calculate where the bird would first contact the Huston train, then when it would contact the San Antonio train and so on and thus form an infinite series which should converge if done correctly. That would produce the correct answer if followed through.

Alternatively you only need to take 100 * 300 / (60 + 80) which is about 214.3 miles. The trick is to realize that the bird is flying at 100 mph the whole time. So the distance is necessarily going to be 100*t where t is total flight time which is the time till the trains collide.
 

1.1.2.3.5...

Limp Gawd
Joined
Jul 13, 2006
Messages
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This is actually a very cleaver question in my mind. The answer is simple, but I started out trying to do it the hard way which would be to calculate where the bird would first contact the Huston train, then when it would contact the San Antonio train and so on and thus form an infinite series which should converge if done correctly. That would produce the correct answer if followed through.

Alternatively you only need to take 100 * 300 / (60 + 80) which is about 214.3 miles. The trick is to realize that the bird is flying at 100 mph the whole time. So the distance is necessarily going to be 100*t where t is total flight time which is the time till the trains collide.

Edit: make that Houston...lol
 

Synful Serenity

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JamesL said:
What kind of answer are they looking for?

They are not looking for the answer as much as your creative approach in trying to figure out the answer, and how well you can communicate it to them. So if you freeze up thinking about it or just throw out guesses, that's probably not the type of person they want on their team.

They'd want to hear something like "It takes an average of x min to fill up a car, a station has y number of pumps, so they can handle z of cars per day, there's roughly....." Or estimate the number of towns, intersections, density of cars per area, etc....there's a million ways you could try to work it out and it doesn't matter as much how close you come to the real answer as how you back it up. Some positions might also place a greater emphasis on how cleanly you present the steps without stumbling over your words or how confident you appear in your logic. Interviews are tough!

I admit a lot depends on the type of position, but to silently calculate a problem like the train example and then just give the final answer is not usually the intent of these questions (unless maybe they hand you a pen and paper, look at their watch and wait).
 

srangara

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Sep 8, 2005
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my immediate thought, but you'd also have to find the density by seeing which liquids it sinks/floats in.

You can also put it in a truck and see how much your gas-bill comes out to after a mile.
weight -> mass -> force -> energy -> fuel -> money

Throw the elephant in a pool and check out how much water gets displaced. Since water is a known value, you can calculate the weigh from that.

Just don't ask me the formula.
This is only a problem for Americans. Everyone else knows 1 litre of water has a mass of 1 kg (at 1 atm).

Clearly this question is being used to weed out foreigners. :)
 

srangara

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"There are three boxes, one contains only apples, one contains only oranges, and one contains both apples and oranges. The boxes have been incorrectly labeled such that no label identifies the actual contents of the box it labels. Opening just one box, and without looking in the box, you take out one piece of fruit. By looking at the fruit, how can you immediately label all of the boxes correctly?" – asked at Apple, Software QA Engineer position"

Easy, tell the customer to buy an iphone 4
Ha, I read this just before going to bed. Explained to my wife how everything falls into place once you pick a fruit from the 'both' box, and then we had sex.

I've never had a job interview go that well.
 

/usr/sbin

Successfully Trolled by Megalith
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Ha, I read this just before going to bed. Explained to my wife how everything falls into place once you pick a fruit from the 'both' box, and then we had sex.

I've never had a job interview go that well.

The both box has nothing to do with it. The question is actually solvable without even looking at the fruit.

We know a couple of important things, from the question.
&#9658;None of the labels are correct.
&#9658;We get to put our hand in one box.

So, you put your hand in any box per the question. You feel around. The surface texture of apples and oranges are very different. Therefore you can immediately discern if you are in a "pure" box (and if so which pure box) or the both box.

You remove the label from the box and put it on the one that you verified through texture, and also take the original label off the box you put your hand in.

So you are left with
Box 1 - Correctly labeled (the one you put your hand in)
Box 2 - Incorrectly labled
Box 3 - Unlabeled

Now remember, at the start of the question all boxes are labeled incorrectly. This means That the label on Box 2 does not belong on Box 1 (you verified it with touch) or Box 2 (by default in the incorrect position). You remove the label from Box 2, and put it on Box 3. You have one label left, by default this will go to Box 2.

Presto. Anyone hiring? LOL.

Oh and at the person I replied to, good scrore ;)
 

Catalan

Limp Gawd
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Aug 24, 2004
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317
As I understand it, knowing the difference between minimum and maximum is of some importance to software engineers.
 

Waldorf

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As someone who has to hire programmers, most of you seem to be missing the point of the minimum number of guesses/binary search question.

It isn't that they are looking for you to just spout out a number. They are looking for you to show some wisdom by discussing the question with them.

They want to see if you bring up the notion of using a binary search; they also want to see if you know the correct answer as the question is phrased. It is designed to provoke a dialog between you and the interviewer. Only then, with further clarification from them, would you be expected to give an answer. It shows that you don't leap to conclusions when told to do something. You seek further information.

The basketball question is pretty much the same thing (inflated or deflated basketballs, or a combination of the both).
 

zoulias

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Sep 20, 2005
Messages
97
from the ones Ive seen in the past (this is hardly a new or revolutionary post as Ive seen them before here on [H]) I know there are plenty of trick questions asked at companies like google.

the way the question was stated I have answered it. If they dont want to hire me as a result Im ok with that. Theres a million better ways they could have worded it to get what is implied, but here we are.

and sorry the E-Peen continues to grow and grow! :rolleyes:

And so it should, as you are exactly right.

You have shown a perfectly valid answer FOR THE QUESTION GIVEN which thinks outside of the box. You fit a profile of a person that would suit a particular role - perhaps a leadership / strategic thinking role.

Your accuser has relied on their experience to make some standard assumptions about the question and answer it in an efficient manner based on those assumptions and their experience of programming. They would make a great "implementer", implementing ideas generated by people such as you in a good way.

Who wins the interview? Depends on the role being offered. Best possible answer is probably to provide both.
 

Wumpus

Gawd
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Messages
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I think the "minimum number of guesses" one is pretty good.

Sometimes, the answer is trivial, and they might want a person who is able to see through it and avoid over-complicating it.

Especially with engineers. Many engineers love to jump into the math without fully analyzing the question first.

I was joking around with my roommate (we're both engineers). I told him that I bet he couldn't correctly solve a basic electronics problem. He, of course, takes the challenge. I proposed the following situation: You have a 9v battery hooked up to one coil of a transformer, which has 270 windings. The other coil of the transformer has 500 windings. What voltage will be measured across the other coil?

He immediately whips out his calculator and answers "Fifteen volts". I told him he was wrong. He spent twenty minutes re-doing his math and asking our friend who was with us, and he tried all sorts of manipulations to the equation, guessing wrong every time.

Finally, he told me that it had to be 15v, he had double-checked everything and looked up the equations. I told him "There's no voltage across the other coil. Batteries are DC, not AC."

If we had been working on an actual engineering project together, that simple mistake would have been terrible. He would have spent a whole bunch of time designing and prototyping a step-up transformer for a 9v battery.

Any engineer can answer the 1,000 number guessing problem by thinking "Well, I eliminate 500 possibilities on the first guess, 250 possibilities on the second guess, 125 possibilities on the third guess" and so on until there's one possibility. And he'd be one smart guy, with perfect math, but his answer would still be wrong because he didn't understand the question properly. If you guess it correctly on the first guess, then you only needed one.

The engineer I'd want to hire would suggest that you could get 15v (or less, depending on the rest of the circuits) with some chopping electronics (just a 555 timer and a few caps/resistors is enough for small currents). I'd expect that the guy who tried to step up DC might cause a problem, I'd hate to have the guy who responded "0" to pull out a voltmeter, and declare it working correctly...

The other point is that there are 10 types of people. If you can't figure out that it takes no more than 11 guesses, you don't grok binary numbers.
 

Cyrilix

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And so it should, as you are exactly right.

You have shown a perfectly valid answer FOR THE QUESTION GIVEN which thinks outside of the box. You fit a profile of a person that would suit a particular role - perhaps a leadership / strategic thinking role.

Your accuser has relied on their experience to make some standard assumptions about the question and answer it in an efficient manner based on those assumptions and their experience of programming. They would make a great "implementer", implementing ideas generated by people such as you in a good way.

Who wins the interview? Depends on the role being offered. Best possible answer is probably to provide both.

More like the simplest answer that satisfies the most literal interpretation of a question (ie., the dumb answer). But, you just keep assuming that you've somehow thought "deeper" and are using those leadership skills.
 

MisterDNA

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1. “If you were shrunk to the size of a pencil and put in a blender, how would you get out?”
A: Reach up and climb out.

2. “How many ridges [are there] around a quarter?”
A: *gets quarter out of pocket and counts the "ridges", intentionally losing count a few times* What? If you're going to waste my time like this, it's your own fault. By the way, there are two ridges, front and back. Those things on the edge are called reeds and there are 119 of them.

3. “What is the philosophy of Martial Arts?”
A: The kicking of ass. Want a sample?

4. “Explain [to] me what has happened in this country during the last 10 years.”
A: Pick up a newspaper and do it yourself, jackass.

5. “Rate yourself on a scale of 1 to 10 how weird you are.”
A: 6 2/3 *raises devil horns*

6. “How many basketball can you fit in this room”
A: How many can you fit up your ass?

7. “Out of 25 horses, pick the fastest 3 horses. In each race, only 5 horses can run at the same time. What is the minimum number of races required?”
A: One. Pick three at random, shotgun their nuts off when the race starts.

8. “If you could be any superhero, who would it be?”
A: The Brown Fog because he's unknown and silent but deadly.

9. “You have a birthday cake and have exactly 3 slices to cut it into 8 equal pieces. How do you do it?”
A: Eat one and cut the other two into quarters.

10. “Given the numbers 1 to 1000, what is the minimum numbers guesses needed to find a specific number if you are given the hint “higher” or “lower” for each guess you make.”
A: One. Torture rack saves a lot of time.

11. “If you had 5,623 participants in a tournament, how many games would need to be played to determine the winner?”
A: One. With many, many rounds.

12. “An apple costs 20 cents, an orange costs 40 cents, and a grapefruit costs 60 cents, how much is a pear?”
A: Two. (think about it (hint: quotes))

13. “There are three boxes, one contains only apples, one contains only oranges, and one contains both apples and oranges. The boxes have been incorrectly labeled such that no label identifies the actual contents of the box it labels. Opening just one box, and without looking in the box, you take out one piece of fruit. By looking at the fruit, how can you immediately label all of the boxes correctly?”
A: Look at the fruit, set the box aside then smell the other two boxes with your eyes closed.

14. “How many traffic lights in Manhattan?”
A: Why should I care when the cab drivers don't?

15. “You are in a dark room with no light. You need matching socks for your interview and you have 19 gray socks and 25 black socks. What are the chances you will get a matching pair?“
A: 100%. Because I have Rit dye.

16. “What do wood and alcohol have in common?”
A: Both burn.

17. “How do you weigh an elephant without using a weigh machine?” – Asked at IBM.
A: "Weigh machine?" Ever heard the word "scale"? Moron *gets up and leaves*

18. “You have 8 pennies, 7 weight the same, one weighs less. You also have a judges scale. Find the one that weighs less in less than 3 steps.”
A: Sit down, use a real scale and weigh each one separately. I didn't walk a single step anywhere.

19. “Why do you think only a small percentage of the population makes over $150K?”
A: Why should I care?

20. “You are in charge of 20 people, organize them to figure out how many bicycles were sold in your area last year.” Asked at Schlumberger.
A: Zero. Schlumberger doesn't sell bicycles.

21. “How many bottles of beer are drank in the city over the week.”
A: None, they are drunk.

22. “What’s the square root of 2000?”
A: *uses Calc app on phone* That's a long damn number.

23. “A train leaves San Antonio for Huston at 60mph. Another train leaves Huston for San Antonio at 80mph. Huston and San Antonio are 300 miles apart. If a bird leaves San Antonio at 100mph, and turns around and flies back once it reaches the Huston train, and continues to fly between the two, how far will it have flown when they collide.”
A: I don't want to work here. I just came for the free coffee.

24. “How are M&M’s made?”
A: White skin, victim complex, violent behavior

25. “What would you do if you just inherit a pizzeria from your uncle?”
A: Hire PhDs to run it while they wait for internships to open up.
 

Xee

[H]ard|Gawd
Joined
Nov 18, 2004
Messages
2,020
A buddy of mine had a week filled with interviews for accountancy internships and was pretty burned out by the last one. During it, the interviewer asked him the following question. Since my buddy didn't care about the interview, he decided just to have fun with the interviewer:

Interviewer: How many playing cards would it take to create a tower as high as the Sears Tower?
Friend: What size playing cards are we talking about?
Interviewer: What do you mean?
Friend: Well, are they poker cards, bridge cards, solitaire cards, etc?
Interviewer: What does that matter?
Friend: They're all different sizes so they would require a different number.
Interviewer: Just . . . regular poker cards.
Friend: Ok. So how are they stacked?
Interviewer: What?
Friend: Well, are they stacked horizontally or vertically?
Interviewer: Whichever way you want.
Friend: Ok. And are we stacking them as high as the antennae? And do we need to create the tower in the immediate surrounding streets? If not, what's the grade of land we're building this tower on?
Interviewer: Are you going to answer the question?
Friend: Hey, I'm just trying to get all the facts.
Interviewer: I think this interview is over.
Friend: Thanks. Have a great day.
 

nalc

[H]ard|Gawd
Joined
Sep 25, 2010
Messages
1,077
More like the simplest answer that satisfies the most literal interpretation of a question (ie., the dumb answer). But, you just keep assuming that you've somehow thought "deeper" and are using those leadership skills.

Anyone can crunch equations. They want to see if you have enough common sense to know when its a dumb answer and know when it isn't. Answering with" binary search" shows that you know basic comp sci techniquesm but can't understand the difference between minimum and maximum.
 

1.1.2.3.5...

Limp Gawd
Joined
Jul 13, 2006
Messages
511
2. “How many ridges [are there] around a quarter?”
A: *gets quarter out of pocket and counts the "ridges", intentionally losing count a few times* What? If you're going to waste my time like this, it's your own fault. By the way, there are two ridges, front and back. Those things on the edge are called reeds and there are 119 of them.

23. “A train leaves San Antonio for Huston at 60mph. Another train leaves Huston for San Antonio at 80mph. Huston and San Antonio are 300 miles apart. If a bird leaves San Antonio at 100mph, and turns around and flies back once it reaches the Huston train, and continues to fly between the two, how far will it have flown when they collide.”
A: I don't want to work here. I just came for the free coffee.

24. “How are M&M’s made?”
A: White skin, victim complex, violent behavior

25. “What would you do if you just inherit a pizzeria from your uncle?”
A: Hire PhDs to run it while they wait for internships to open up.


Those responses are good, very good...lol:p
 

Cyrilix

2[H]4U
Joined
Jan 21, 2005
Messages
2,188
Anyone can crunch equations. They want to see if you have enough common sense to know when its a dumb answer and know when it isn't. Answering with" binary search" shows that you know basic comp sci techniquesm but can't understand the difference between minimum and maximum.

No, it shows that you've already thought of the literal obviously answer, and quite frankly, understand why it's wrong. Likewise, I don't think you even understand minimum and maximum. The lower bound for a guaranteed solution is found using binary search. There is no upper bound or maximum. You can continuously guess 1 or 999, assuming those are not the values.
 

mobusta1

2[H]4U
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Messages
2,579
These kind of questions get asked at IB, HF and PE interviews all the time. They're called "brain teasers" there is no right or wrong answer. The interviewer is just trying to gauge how you think and if you are intutive. If you give one word answers to any of them chances are you will lose points. You have to tell them and how you came up with your answer without them telling you to do so.

They are after your reasoning.
 

zoulias

Weaksauce
Joined
Sep 20, 2005
Messages
97
No, it shows that you've already thought of the literal obviously answer, and quite frankly, understand why it's wrong. Likewise, I don't think you even understand minimum and maximum. The lower bound for a guaranteed solution is found using binary search. There is no upper bound or maximum. You can continuously guess 1 or 999, assuming those are not the values.

Eh, NOT saying what you call the "obvious" answer showes that you have already thought of it?

No. Look you are clearly chatting sh*t. It's not the "obvious" answer. Its a different answer, Some will get it, some won't. Some will be canny enough to mention both answers. Some will see something familiar and just come up with the second, not being able to think laterally enough for the "obvious" one. Some won't be able to do the maths, but can still come up with the first. Some will do neither.

Being all defensive about this "obviously being there to test binary blah blah" and derisory to the other chap is just completely and utterly wrong. You are wrong. This qusiton is clearly deeper than your ability to think.
 

zoulias

Weaksauce
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Sep 20, 2005
Messages
97
No, it shows that you've already thought of the literal obviously answer, and quite frankly, understand why it's wrong. Likewise, I don't think you even understand minimum and maximum. The lower bound for a guaranteed solution is found using binary search. There is no upper bound or maximum. You can continuously guess 1 or 999, assuming those are not the values.

...and to say there is no upper bound? That's using the same logic you used to take the mick out of the logic behind the "obvious answer". Its "stupid" to guess the right anwser first, but not "stupid" to guess the same number twice knowing that is is wrong? Of course there is a logical upper bound. You can't escape your programming. I'm sure you are an excellent programmer, but I wouldnt want you in a blue sky thinking session.
 

Powerage

Gawd
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Jun 26, 2007
Messages
997
I think a lot of the logic in this thread is born from the "There is no right answer" and the "You ARE special" crowd. Answering 1 to the first question is not clever in any sense of the word. 1, as someone said before is just a lazy or smartass answer to the question. It's not all about understanding binary searches, I admit. But as someone who has never heard of a binary search (not unlike all the people saying 1, I'm sure), I still could take the time to think:

"Well, to do this efficiently, because I'm dealing with 'higher than/lower than', I'm going to keep dividing by 2 until I only have 1 option left, assuming I don't get lucky. Dividing by two multiple times is 1/(2^x) and I'll be done when I have less than 1. So, it's 1000/(2^x) < 1 and because 2^10 is 1024, x would be 10 because we aren't performing half iterations, that is to say, I can't diving by two one and a half times (or I could, but it wouldn't be efficient)."

That's the kind of thinking that goes into answering a question like that without ever having seen it before. That's the reason why saying "1" is, relatively, a stupid answer.
 

zoulias

Weaksauce
Joined
Sep 20, 2005
Messages
97
I think a lot of the logic in this thread is born from the "There is no right answer" and the "You ARE special" crowd. Answering 1 to the first question is not clever in any sense of the word. 1, as someone said before is just a lazy or smartass answer to the question. It's not all about understanding binary searches, I admit. But as someone who has never heard of a binary search (not unlike all the people saying 1, I'm sure), I still could take the time to think:

"Well, to do this efficiently, because I'm dealing with 'higher than/lower than', I'm going to keep dividing by 2 until I only have 1 option left, assuming I don't get lucky. Dividing by two multiple times is 1/(2^x) and I'll be done when I have less than 1. So, it's 1000/(2^x) < 1 and because 2^10 is 1024, x would be 10 because we aren't performing half iterations, that is to say, I can't diving by two one and a half times (or I could, but it wouldn't be efficient)."

That's the kind of thinking that goes into answering a question like that without ever having seen it before. That's the reason why saying "1" is, relatively, a stupid answer.

No again this does not follow. The fact that an answer is calculable logically without first knowing the name of the method with which it is done "traditionally" does not detract from any of the rationale for why the answer 1 is NOT stupid. If the designer of the quesiton wanted to exclude the "stupid" answer, they would have written it with that in mind.

The types of interview questions are designed to look at the way people think. The are designed to look at a broad range of thought. They do not exclude, or devalue, answers which are correct, just because you don't like them. And just as you are dismissive of the so called "I am special crowd" I contend that half the people who don't accept this simple fact are simply being defensive because they hadn't stopped to think that there was a valid answer which was more "simple" YET ACTUALLY MOST ACCURATE (as 1 is smaller than 10) than what they thought out of reflex.

I'm not saying and have never said it isn't a good thing to be able to work out the value 10. Its also a good thing to think of the value 1. One needs a bit of maths, the other needs a bit of imagination. A lot of people dont have either or both. You just can't escape from this rationale without making unfounded assumptions such as "clearly the guy was never looking for THAT answer".
 

jiminator

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the question was to find a number based on a higher than/lower than type of system.
The answer 1 implies luck only and since there is no allowance for other answers following the higher/lower system is irrelevant, therefore it has to be a wrong answer
 

nalc

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the question was to find a number based on a higher than/lower than type of system.
The answer 1 implies luck only and since there is no allowance for other answers following the higher/lower system is irrelevant, therefore it has to be a wrong answer

No. The question was "What is the minimum number of guesses to find the 1 correct value". The question wasn't "What is the minimum number of guesses required to eliminate 999 of the 1000 possible values".

The two questions are similar, but not the same. The answer to the first is 1, the answer to the second is 10.
 

Archmage

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This is ridiculous. Addressing the binary search problem:

It would be better to provide all applicable answers... it isn't a difficult problem, so no one should feel proud to have solved what some of us could have done intuitively in 6th grade.

Your answer should always encompass all possibilities afforded by the format of reply, however you should never neglect the probable intent of the question. You'd still look like a fool if you answered "ONE," and dumbly waited for the next question :rolleyes: - However this is dependent upon your qualifications, and the difficulty of the other questions, etc...

If they stipulate that there can only be ONE answer, then I would have elected to solve the math problem, but also to insinuate that the language of the question demands further limitations with regard to interpretation.

Some of the other questions require us to dissect the language to a similar degree (San Antonio - Houston, Train-Bird scenario), which is a common characteristic of questions on Standardized tests, though it seems more annoying in this case.

Particularly distinguished applicants are less likely to encounter such questions.
 

Archmage

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I should have added:

- Often, portions of questions are included DELIBERATELY because they are irrelevant. That may or may not be the case here, because there are certainly vaguer questions to be had.

Standardized test-taking 101.
 

Exavior

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A lot of these might seem bizarre, but given the job they were for make perfect sense. The one for Apple QA for example. That is making sure that you can quickly tell something is wrong and how to resolve the issue instead of wasting time. Sure you COULD look in every box and take your time to fix the labels, or you could do it like it said and only open 1 box, take out 1 item then know for sure what the correct labels should be. Same for the question about basket balls filling the room. that is for a programmer position and they are just checking your ablity to do simple volume excerscie. When i got out of college i applied for a job with a game company that was looking for a entry level programmer. they mailed out a test for you to complete. One of the questions had to do with putting a boat into a large container of body and figuring how how much the boat weighted based on how much waster was displaced. another wanted you do to binary math.
 

jimmyb

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No. The question was "What is the minimum number of guesses to find the 1 correct value". The question wasn't "What is the minimum number of guesses required to eliminate 999 of the 1000 possible values".

The two questions are similar, but not the same. The answer to the first is 1, the answer to the second is 10.

No you're misquoting the question. It is in fact:
Given the numbers 1 to 1000, what is the minimum numbers guesses needed to find a specific number if you are given the hint “higher” or “lower” for each guess you make.

Note the words "needed" and "specific". The use of these words exclude 1 from being a correct answer. You need more than one attempt to find any specific number.

If you answered "1" then it shows you don't fully understand the particular language of the question.
 

nalc

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No you're misquoting the question. It is in fact:


Note the words "needed" and "specific". The use of these words exclude 1 from being a correct answer. You need more than one attempt to find any specific number.

If you answered "1" then it shows you don't fully understand the particular language of the question.

Nope. Specific number means that there's only one correct number out of 1000 numbers. Need means that you absolutely cannot guess the correct answer with less than that number of guesses. You say that 10 guesses are needed. What if I guess it on my first try? I only needed 1 guess. Saying that you need 10 means that it is not possible to do with less than 10, which is clearly false.
 
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