Try your hand at these gruelling interview questions from “Are You Smart Enough to Work at Google?” by William Poundstone
1. What comes next in the following series? SSS, SCC, C, SC
The series is the letters of the alphabet in a silly code. A, as a capital letter, is made of three straight lines. Encode that as SSS. Capital B is one straight line and two curved ones, or SCC. C is one curved line and remains, coincidentally, just C. D is one straight and one curved line.
That brings us up to the next term, which must represent a capital E. That’s four straight lines, or SSSS.
2. At 3:15, what is the angle between the minute and hour hands on an analog clock?
It’s not zero. At 3:15 the minute hand will be pointing due east, at the 3. The hour hand will already have moved one-quarter of the way from 3 to 4. The span between 3 and 4 is one-twelfth of a full 360-degree turn, or 30 degrees.
Divide that by four and you’ve got the answer, 7.5 degrees.
3. A man pushed his car to a hotel and lost his fortune. What happened?
He was playing Monopoly.
4. Explain what a database is to your eight-year-old nephew, using three sentences.
The trick is to think of creative analogies relevant to an eight-year-old. A database is an iPod for information. With an iPod, you can store thousands of songs and still find any track you want quickly.
A database does the same thing with information that people have stored on a computer or the Internet.
5. Look at this sequence:
What’s the next line? Hint: try reading the lines out loud
This is the look-and-say sequence, described by the mathematician John Horton Conway in 1986.
Except for the first line, each inventories the line above it. The third line, for instance, could be read as “two one(s).” Look at the line above it. It’s two 1s.
The lowermost line you’re given consists of three 1s, two 2s, and one 1. The following line must be 312211
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