# Smart enough to work for Google?

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M.Z.

posted July 21, 2010 at 6:08 pm

I’ll tackle the 3rd question for you.
In a country in which people only want boys every family continues to have children until they have a boy. If they have a girl, they have another child. If they have a boy, they stop. What is the proportion of boys to girls in the country?
The odds of having a boy are 50%.
So, 50% of families will have one child who is a boy.
Of the remaining 50%, the next 50% will have one boy. So at this point, there are 3 boys for every girl.
Among the remaining 50%, half will once again have a boy and half will have a girl.
So from the top:
50% will have one boy
25% will have one boy and one girl
12.5% will have one boy and two girls
6.25% will have one boy and three girls
3.12% will have one boy and 4 girls
1.6% will have one boy and 5 girls
0.8% will have one boy and 6 girls
0.4% will have one boy and 7 girls
0.2% will have one boy and 8 girls
0.1% will have one boy and 9 girls
Weighted children:
Boys Girls
.5(1)=.5 .5(0)=0
.25 .25
.13 .25
.06 .19
.03 .12
.02 .08
.01 .06
0 .03
0 .02
0 .01
============
1 1.01
So we end up with just a little over one girl for every boy.
That was fun. It is nice to stretch the brain every now and then.

Polichinello

posted July 21, 2010 at 6:16 pm

Questions that make you feel stupid? Only for being in an interview with a moron who thinks he’s part of superhip, clever company that has him ask these idiotic puzzlers.

Jon

posted July 21, 2010 at 6:20 pm

Well, this should be a reply to those posters who claim that companies can’t test their workers’ intelligence (or whatever) before hiring.

aaron

posted July 21, 2010 at 6:34 pm

Q?
8 balls, 7 weigh the same, one is slightly more.
Choose 6 balls, weigh 3 against 3. if equal, weigh the other 2=2 weighs.
If 3 are unequal, pick two and weigh, if they’re equal, then the heavy ball is the unweighed ball, if they’re unequal, then the heavier ball is obvious on the scale=2 weighs.

Polichinello

posted July 21, 2010 at 6:37 pm

Google isn’t really using this as a formal test. At any rate, you’ve misstated the problem. Companies effectively cannot use written tests to screen applicants because they get the same results: Asians score highest, followed by whites, then Hispanics and finally blacks. This will make them vulnerable to disparate impact litigation. So companies use college degrees that often otherwise useless to limit their pool of applicants. You might not have a real world application for that “Communications” degree, but it at least shows you can be trained. It’s a great scam for the university system.

Polichinello

posted July 21, 2010 at 6:42 pm

Further note my last post, which was a reply to Jon, the people being quizzed are usually graduates from top schools, at which point Google can safely apply intelligence test (even these rather subjective questions) and not worry overmuch about disparate impact.

aaron

posted July 21, 2010 at 7:08 pm

I’m confused with what you’re saying Polichinello, that you cannot require/use a written test unless the job is of a specific technical nature?

Erin Manning

posted July 21, 2010 at 7:37 pm

I was indulging in the guilty pleasure of reading through my “Dilbert” collection not long ago (Texas; July; summer cold: any questions?), and came across an instance of this kind of thing: the boss asks an applicant the famous question involving the man who has one rowboat and has to ferry across a fox and two chickens, but can only take so many at a time, etc. The applicant responds that he’d take out livestock insurance, then barbecue the chickens and blame the fox–at which point he is immediately hired.
Most of these kinds of things are done not as a direct intelligence test, but to measure the applicants’ flexibility, creativity, psychology, problem-solving process skills, etc. Of course, if Google really was using these exact questions they are now having to scrap these, since the answers will be all over the Internet.
I wonder whether the “correct” answer to these questions, in the context of the interview, was, “Thanks to Google, everyone on Earth can answer these questions–so may I please use my laptop and Google to formulate my answers for you?”

MH

posted July 21, 2010 at 7:53 pm

Google’s East coast office isn’t far from my house, but I’ve never applied there because I assumed they were all to bright. But maybe there’s hope.
Why are manhole covers round is an easy one. It is also the same reason they could be made triangular, but never square.
The only reason to have DeadBeef is to also FeedBeef.
Passing a phone number through the hands of an untrusted intermediary is a something I’m sure Mr Rivest, Shamir and Adleman could help you with.
I am not ammused by the eight balls question. It’s way to easy.

Polichinello

posted July 21, 2010 at 10:19 pm

I’m confused with what you’re saying Polichinello, that you cannot require/use a written test unless the job is of a specific technical nature?
You can use a test, but if the test winds up screening out too many blacks or Hispanics, you can be sued for discrimination based on the assumption that the test is discriminatory, no matter how hard you try to make the test objective and job related.

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