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Are You Smart Enough to Work at Google?: Fiendish Puzzles And Impossible Interview Questions From The World'S Top Companies Paperback – 7 Mar 2013

3.8 out of 5 stars 46 customer reviews

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  • Are You Smart Enough to Work at Google?: Fiendish Puzzles And Impossible Interview Questions From The World'S Top Companies
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Total price: £40.00
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Product details

  • Paperback: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Oneworld Publications (7 Mar. 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1851689559
  • ISBN-13: 978-1851689552
  • Product Dimensions: 12.9 x 1.8 x 19.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (46 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 66,972 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

Review

"Serious ammunition to pack for your next job interview."

(Kirkus Reviews)

"Poundstone offers strategies for making the best of nerve-racking situations, decoding interviewer's hidden agendas, and salvaging a doomed interview, in a solid treatment peppered with mind-bending puzzles. Poundstone's energetic, compelling writing...makes the book fun even for nonjob seekers."

(Publishers Weekly)

Enjoyable. Editor's Pick.

(The Bookseller)

Subtle and sophisticated... you will love this book.

(The Observer)

A great book.

(Business Life)

Review

'Entertaining' Independent on Sunday

See all Product Description

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
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.
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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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I am enjoying this book, if you like puzzles then its a bit of a laugh.

I'm disappointed though that some of his solutions are a little off the mark:

Q. Horse race: Given 25 horses, and you have a racecourse where you can race 5 horses at a time, how many races do you need to find the top 3 horses.
In his answer to this, the author shows it can be done in 7 races, but does not explicitly explain why it can't be done in 6, so doesn't quite answer the question.

Q. two men meeting after 20 years, one has 3 daughters whose ages have product 72 etc etc
In his solution, the author gives the prime factors of 72 as: 2, 3, 3 and 4???? 4 is not prime, so this is sloppy.
He then lists the possible combinations, but misses at least one combination - this could matter, but luckily he still gets to the right answer.

Q. If all families in a country plan their families as follows: "carry on til we get a boy, then stop", what will the male:female ratio be in the resulting population?
The author goes into long, complicated detail by splitting up into the various cases of family: B, GB, GGB, etc etc when this is not necessary at all: The answer is that, as long as no one aborts fetuses on the basis of sex, then the ratio will be just as it would if families did not have that strategy. He also makes a slightly incorrect assumption: Namely that the proportion of M:F is exactly 50:50. In reality, the ratio for live births tends to be very slightly more girls than boys (the ratio at conception is likely to be 50 50, but live birth ratios are very slightly different to that). 50 50 is pretty close.

Q. Desert island football, the only available coin for the toss is biased.
A better answer than the "google" and "microsoft" ones? Captain A hides the coin in one hand and asks captain B to guess left or right.
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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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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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