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34 Reviews
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22 of 23 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars If you like puzzles, you'll like this?
You need to toss a coin for a football match. The only coin you have is bent and biased towards one outcome. How do you use the coin and ensure a fair toss?

I love a good puzzle and there are certainty plenty of thought provoking mind benders in this book - most of which I had not heard before. Author William Poundstone (author of 'How Would You Move Mount...
Published on 8 May 2012 by Alex Ireland

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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Not sure I am!
This is a very interesting and thought-provoking book, but just about complicated enough to make you wonder if completeing it should be the first stage when applying for a job at google!
Published on 19 Jun 2012 by Frances H


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22 of 23 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars If you like puzzles, you'll like this?, 8 May 2012
You need to toss a coin for a football match. The only coin you have is bent and biased towards one outcome. How do you use the coin and ensure a fair toss?

I love a good puzzle and there are certainty plenty of thought provoking mind benders in this book - most of which I had not heard before. Author William Poundstone (author of 'How Would You Move Mount Fuji' and 'Fortune's Formula') describes various puzzles that are likely to be part of a Google interview process - that company now estimated to be running over one billion search requests per day! Some other aspects of Google are covered, but the subject matter is predominately puzzles - all types of puzzles: fermi questions, deductive logic, numeracy skill, algorithm questions and some grade A counter intuitive mind boggling teasers!

One can't help asking the question why Google bothers with all of this? Surely, the point of an interview is to see if someone can do a certain type of work and the interview should be a fair attempt to assess a candidate's suitability. I have had the fortune (some would say misfortune) to be part of world of Software engineering for the last 15 years. I am passionate about it, but I'll be the first to admit it isn't just about solving fun puzzles. Following best practises, following agreed processes, keeping up to speed with technology, documenting solutions so others can see what's going on are all very important things to make a good software engineer. And it's not always sexy work. Sometimes it requires patience, debugging ugly code while sticking to a tight project deadline. Ascertaining how good someone is at all this in an interview setting can be difficult - especially when it's very easy for a good candidate to freeze from nerves or get an unexpected mental block. It's very difficult to objectify what makes a good software engineer. Sometimes someone very intelligent can get hung up on abstractions or theoritical patterns and forget they have deadlines or just not be a good team player. Sometimes, there's just inescapable subjectivity.

So how do brain teasers help out? Acclaimed tech guru, Joel Spoksky advises to avoid asking them in interviews because they are usually just a case of either the candidate knows it or he doesn't - and not much else. In my opinion, it can take months to understand someone's technical strengths and weaknesses. Puzzles can be useful for demostrating how someone approaches problem solving, how they think on their feet and how they communicate ideas. So yes they do serve a purpose. But even if they serve no purpose whatsoever other than a bit of fun, that's fine for me. I love a good puzzle so I really enjoyed this book and for that reason I'd recommend it to anyone who likes to dabble in some cryptic challenges.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Excellent If You Love Puzzles, 14 July 2012
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As others have said this book is designed for people that loving solving puzzles, and especially if they have a good background in mathematics as many of the puzzles require mathematical equations. I would say this is a book that you dip into rather than read from cover to cover. It's a good book to take for example to break up the boredom on long journeys. Only some of the puzzles are actually lateral thinking, the rest require some paper and a pen to really work them out. The author even tells if you were asked certain questions what to write up on the whiteboard in the interview room to impress the interviewer.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Not sure I am!, 19 Jun 2012
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This is a very interesting and thought-provoking book, but just about complicated enough to make you wonder if completeing it should be the first stage when applying for a job at google!
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Great Travel Book, 14 May 2012
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J. Duncan (UK) - See all my reviews
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Better as a quiz book than a guide, lots of great questions to get you through long bus journeys! If the answer only takes you a couple of minutes your probably wrong!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A welcome present, 15 Mar 2013
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A gift was required for a very smart relative who works in a high power position for an International firm. This seems to have given him an entertaining mental workout.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Interesting concept but bogged down later, 22 Jan 2013
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Preferred the first half of the book with quesitons designed to make you think. Second half had too many stats but this may appeal.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Interesting book, 2 Dec 2012
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Really interesting read, if you enjoy challenging puzzles. Written in an informal style which is easy to read. Fun gift idea for puzzle lovers.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars great book, 19 Jun 2012
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barr "barr" (Glasgow Scotland) - See all my reviews
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This book sets out typical interview questions and approaches being applied in the current competitive jobs market. It gives an insight into the why and what the interviewer may be seeking from the candidate.
It is well written , thought provoking, challenging and keeps your interest.
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7 of 9 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars OK, but not up to the author's previous standard, 25 Jun 2012
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I read the author's previous work "How would you move Mount Fuji?" a few years back, and really enjoyed it. So when I found this one on Kindle for a low price a leaped on it.

Unfortunately, I don't think it's up to the same standard. It's neither a puzzle book nor a "how-to-pass-interviews" book. Instead it falls somewhere in between, with the author presenting puzzles (some interesting, some old-hat), discussing the solutions, and then speculating on what Google (and other companies) might think. Throw in a bit of history of Google and interview processes, and you have this book. Personally I think this mix made it unfocussed.

If you think it sounds interesting, then I'd recommend (if you haven't read it already) starting with "Fuji", which has a clearer focus. If you enjoy that then read this one.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Great book. These questions are designed to get you ..., 15 July 2014
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This review is from: Are You Smart Enough to Work at Google?: Fiendish Puzzles and Impossible Interview Questions from the World's Top Companies (Paperback)
Great book. These questions are designed to get you to search for (sound familiar) and apply all the bits of random information you have. Why can density help you get out of a food blender?
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