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Are You Smart Enough to Work at Google?: Trick Questions, Zen-like Riddles, Insanely Difficult Puzzles, and Other Devious Interviewing Techniques You ... Know to Get a Job Anywhere in the New Economy Hardcover – January 4, 2012


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Little, Brown and Company (January 4, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 031609997X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0316099974
  • Product Dimensions: 8.5 x 5.8 x 1.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (49 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #237,213 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

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

"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

"A neat little manifesto on interview technique...Touring through a huge number of puzzles, he provides a truly exhaustive account of all the factors you're meant to consider when thinking your way through the solutions. Tackling [them] is incredibly gratifying, when you're not withering under the baleful eye of a potential employer."—New Scientist Culture Lab

"For those in the job market, Poundstone provides a handy survey of killer questions and how to answer them. For others, he offers the challenge of matching wits with people at America's most innovative companies. As for employers, he presents a timely warning about creative thinking and why job interviews don't work...The format affords Poundstone room to display his scientific knowledge, mathematical fluency and knack for explaining the arcane in playfully precise sentences."—Bloomberg Businessweek

About the Author

William Poundstone is the author of twelve books, including How Would You Move Mount Fuji? and Fortune's Formula, which was Amazon Editors' pick for the #1 nonfiction book of the year in 2005. He has written for the New York Times, Harper's, Harvard Business Review, and the Village Voice, among other publications. He lives in Los Angeles.

More About the Author

William Poundstone is the author of two previous Hill and Wang books: Fortune's Formula and Gaming the Vote.

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Customer Reviews

I found a lot of really useful tips in this very entertaining book.
Sally Shannon
A good book for programmers and engineers looking for good tips on how to handle interview questions.
Andreas
I really wish this book didn't have the tantalizing (and very misleading) title.
Dave F

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

305 of 339 people found the following review helpful By Thomas Y. Galloway on January 9, 2012
Format: Hardcover
As someone who did many phone and onsite interviews at Google, served on a Google Hiring Committee for several years, and even developed a general interview style/format for an Engineering subgroup, I have to say that this book would be worse than useless for someone trying to get hired by Google, at least on the Engineering side. This is based on browsing through the available pages online here.

At least since 2003, Google Engineering does not ask puzzle/riddle questions in interviews. In fact, we're specifically told not to ask such questions. And any Hiring Committee worth its salt would, when given feedback from an interviewer indicating they'd asked such questions, at the very least email/talk to the interviewer and tell them not to do it again, and if a substantial part of the interview had been such questions, would throw out the interview feedback.

Heck, the author didn't even fact check the list of Google perks given early on; the hybrid car rebate was eliminated several years ago, and the mass ski trips came to an end when the company got too big.

If you're smart enough to work at Google, ignore this book completely and search the web or your professional network for accounts of the interview process by people who've actually worked at and done interviews for Google.
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33 of 34 people found the following review helpful By Dave F on May 31, 2012
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I really wish this book didn't have the tantalizing (and very misleading) title. It's basically a book of brain teasers that are very loosely associated with Google or other tech firms. As background: I *did* read the entire book and have also interviewed at many tech firms and startups for Software Engineering positions. Including navigating through many difficult interviews at Google to receive an offer from them and speaking with *many* fellow engineers who have also interviewed at Google. So this review is from the perspective of software engineering, not sales or the many other (important) positions that exist at Google but aren't at the core of its business.

With an interview at Google imminent, I purchased the Kindle edition of the book on a whim to help study. It mostly plays on myths of what the interview questions are like at Google, i.e. "Trick Questions, Zen-like Riddles, Insanely Difficult Puzzles, and Other Devious Interviewing Techniques..." Unfortunately if you use this as a study guide for a Software Engineering position, it's going to waste your time. Let me say that again in another way: this book will not help to prepare you for a Software Engineering interview at Google. In fact it might be detrimental because you'll spend valuable time and brain cycles working out the (fun!) brain teasers in this book rather than brushing up on the algorithms and CS fundamentals that are so much more important.

(As an aside: I will say that despite the ban on brain teasers at Google, I *was* asked a brain teaser on one of my last interviews. Out of 8 interviews and well over 20 problems, it was only 1, though. And it isn't in the book.)

Read this book if you want to read fun brain teasers and work through challenging problems.
Read more ›
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17 of 19 people found the following review helpful By Baze on August 9, 2012
Format: Hardcover
I don't know what this author's thinking, but Google (and similar companies- Goldman Sachs, Yahoo!, Apple, Microsoft, Cisco, etc.) don't really ask such questions. This sounds more like very specialized boutique firms or even graduate programs.. maybe even start-up company interviews. I know from my friends at Google (where I've interviewed) that their questions were really straightforward, and required much knowledge about yourself, your practice/discipline, and the company. As some reviewers already noted, some of these companies aren't even allowed to ask such questions.

In fact, for one of my computer programmer friends, the interview went really... casually. Her situation was probably a break from the norm, of course, but these questions and puzzles were just absurd, in her (and my) opinion.

Nevertheless, the book is well written and very accessible. The author starts off the book with almost a prose-like style of writing, and hooks you in from the very beginning. He even sounds really believable! If only his premise were true, I'd give this book a solid 5 stars.

The ideas presented are worth thinking about and trying to solve in your spare time. Who knows- you might even become brighter from working through them. They're really fun, challenging, and entertaining. However, they are not representative of the real interviews that prospective employees endure.

Bottom line- buy it, I guess, if you enjoy puzzles. However, you can find much better (and resourceful) puzzle books out there.

Hope this helps. Comment if you have any questions!
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Daniel Reidler on December 18, 2013
Format: Kindle Edition
(2) What’s the square root of 0.01? (44)

are two examples from the dozens of riddles discussed in the book, essential for people interviewing for business positions. The book reviews some of the most famous riddles that companies like IBM, Nordstoms, and Microsoft ask and gives an overview how to respond to Fermi questions, or estimation questions, named after the great physicist who asked his class “How many piano tunors are there in Chicago?” (108)
At Google, they also like to ask open ended questions to understand how you think: “Design an evacuation plan for San Francisco.” (66) Google tests divergent thinking or whiteboarding and convergent thinking “or [the] process of using logic or instinct to narrow the range of possibilities.” (29) While riddles and bizarre interview questions continue to be rampant at interviews, the relationship between correctly answering interview riddles and employee performance is highly debated.

Other lessons:
Poundstone illustrates the importance of keeping things simple. He explains that Google isn’t just looking for the great develop. He cautions “an engineer can’t help falling in love with the clever ideas and algorithms that have gone into a new product. An entrepreneur has to ignore them and judge whether the end users will want, or be able, to use the product. Since Google is a place where job descriptions are fluid, it tries to find employees with the ability to put themselves in someone else’s head. Many of its interview questions bear on that theme.” (72) Similarly, I see at Seeking Alpha, we look for people who always keep the user in mind.

Overall, the book is fun and exciting. It is packed with dozens of hard and harder riddles. It also includes details explanations to them. I highly recommend this book to anyone interviewing or looking for some fun brain teasers. Most of the brain teasers are related to probability, computer algorithms, and mathematics.
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