This book by William Poundstone takes the title from a puzzle question, the likes of which are a common feature in job interviews in and around Silicon Valley.
The book traces the history of the interviews based on puzzles right from the days of William Shockley to the recent Bill Gates. While at it, the book touches topics such as intelligence tests for employment, the origins of Silicon Valley, the culture of Microsoft and Wall Street.
The book is essentially divided into three parts. First, deals with the history of puzzles in interviews and the efficacy of the same in silicon valley and Wall Street. Second, gives some tips and guidance for the interview process both for interviewees and interviewers. Third, solves the puzzles that feature in the first and second parts.
While the first part sure does make an interesting reading with several anecdotes throw in, it is the second part that offers something for the wannabes and seasoned managers.
Here are some points for the managers.
- The value of puzzles is inverse proportion to the candidate’s experience; An interview puzzle is prevent bad hires
- Have an interview plan
- An interview is not an IQ test; Interview questions are only as fair as you make them; Choose questions so that it doesn’t matter much whether the candidate has heard them before
- Challenge your first impression.
- Don’t do a “stress interview.”
- Avoid deception, even the common “white lies” about interviews