Interviews are hard. Candidates are trying to put their best foot forward while aware that one wrong answer could ruin their dreams of landing the job.
With that in mind, good hiring managers will try to make their interviewees feel comfortable, as they know it will improve the quality of the interview. Bad hiring managers do the opposite, for example by trying to catch candidates out by asking impossible questions.
Hiring managers at Google used to fall into the latter category, with some interview brain teasers so ridiculous the company eventually banned them from being used. Recently, the chairman of Google’s parent company Alphabet, Eric Schmidt, proved exactly why.
Given his role as chairman of the MNC, few people would disagree that Schmidt must be a fairly clever guy. Yet when presented with one of Google’s notoriously difficult interview questions at an entrepreneurial conference, he struggled to answer it.
According to Quartz, he was told: “You’re the captain of a pirate ship and you find a chest of gold. Your crew gets to vote on how the gold is divided up. If fewer than half of the pirates agree with you, you die. How do you recommend apportioning the gold in such a way that you get a good share of the booty but still survive.”
After some failed attempts – “Let’s do the math…if half die. No, if I die… No, if they don’t like me, I die.” – Schmidt concluded it was a ‘really bad question’.
To his credit, he did manage to come up with a creative answer in the end. But the fact that even he struggled surely proves Google chose the right path by abandoning their bizarre brain teasers.
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