What is a Brain Teaser Question?
Brain teaser questions are usually asked by the interviewers and the recruiters to test how much the candidate is able to solve and answer unusual or abstract questions, that may seem out of the ordinary and use the given data and resources available to produce the most satisfactory answer for the question presented.
Brain teasers are also questions that show the individuality and the personality of the candidate on how the candidate tackles and solve the issue with a varied and a unique answer. In most cases, brain teasers can also be asked instead of behavioural questions and they can be used to gauge and measure the emotional quotient and behaviour of the candidates.
Though with the inclusion of more and more behavioural and structural questions in most of the interviews these days, the idea of adding a brain teaser during interviews is becoming more and more less common. The amount of brain teasers asked during an interview has significantly decreased over the past few years. These questions were commonly asked in technical and also entry level positions, normally for freshers and also for junior level positions.
Why Brain Teasers are Good for you?
- The main purpose of the inclusion of brainteasers in many interviews and employee selection process is to check the analytical, critical and also the problem solving skills of the candidate. When an interviewer asks you a brainteaser question, there might not be a definite answer to the question presented.
- Employers add brainteasers as a part of their selection process to check the working and thinking capacity of the candidates and how well they are able to solve the questions, problems and puzzles presented to them under a limited amount of time. If you are a candidate who gets easily tensed and flustered while solving a brainteaser question, then chances are that you won’t be able to solve the problems that you may have to face during the job. Even if you do not know the correct answer, try to be as calm and composed as possible and try to answer and sell your answer to the interviewer.
- Most of the leading technological and non technological companies use brainteasers as a level for selecting their candidates, so as to check whether or not the candidates are able to solve very complex and tough problems without getting all tensed and riled up. Most brainteasers are used to make you think on your feet and to make you able to solve the question or problem on the spot without much preparation or prior knowledge about the problem. Knowing the purpose of brainteasers and how you are able to solve them in a proper manner will allow you to handle stress and pressures that occur in day to day life and also during interviews.
- Another main point that is to be noted is that, many brainteaser questions are not at all related to the job position or the job that the candidate has applied. Then the next question arises in, “why do they include such questions?” this is where a typical brain teaser holds its fundamental usage. Brain teasers are used to assess and measure the judgemental and practical thinking of the candidate and to see whether they are able to produce a satisfactory result under intense stress and pressure and also under limited time. Brain teasers are usually questions that would activate the thinking capacity of your brain by giving you relevant clues and hints about the topic within the question itself.
- Brain teasers are usually asked in an interview, to add a variety to the interview questions, since most of the interview questions are so well known and rehearsed among the candidates that almost all of them would give uniform and nearly identical answers. This will make the selection process even harder for the recruiters and the employers. Brain teasers help you to add individuality and your style of thinking into your answers since each person thinks differently for a solution to a problem presented to them. The one who gives the most efficient answer under the least time with a great personality is considered as an ideal employee for most companies.
Purpose of Brain Teasers:
Most of the times brain teasers are used by recruiters to assess the following skills of the candidate. These include:
Problem solving skills:
How well the candidate can solve the problem in a logical and sustainable manner. How fast can the candidate devise a solution for the problem in the most effective and feasible way?
How well can the candidate think about all the various aspects about the problem and how well will the solution of the problem affect all the factors. Is the candidate able to think about the bigger picture and keep in mind the various factors for formulating satisfactory answers
This is used to measure the cognitive ability of the individual, and also to measure and test whether or not he is able to visualise and understand the data and is able to create a solution using the given information and propose a valid and an effective prediction about the scenario or the problem presented.
Another factor which attracts the interviewer , is the originality and the creativity in which the candidate tries to solve the problems. Each person has their own understanding about the question, and they produce varying methods to achieve the common or the right answer. Brain teasers helps in analysing whether or not the candidate is able to take up innovative and creative methods to achieve the most satisfactory answer for the question.
Ability to think under pressure:
This is to check whether the candidate can solve a problem when it is presented without any prior warning or notice and when the candidate is under prepared about it.
Tips for Solving Brain Teasers:
Always carry a pen and paper with you:
When you are attending for such an interview and the recruiter asks you a brainteaser ask them, if you are permitted to write the details about the question onto a paper. If so, then jot down the details that you might find necessary in solving the problem. Take down clues and think how they are relevant to the question and the solution.
Try to be relaxed:
Do not get all tensed and ruffled up when you hear such a question. Always think logically with a clear state of mind and also try to be calm and composed when the question is being presented to you.
Try to listen carefully when the interviewer is presenting the question and also carefully listen to the details when they are listening to the question.
Try to answer:
If you do not know what the answer might be, try to answer it anyways. Do not keep mum and never say that you do not know the answer. This shows that you are not confident in solving and presenting your answer. This is seen as a disadvantage for the candidate.
When you are trying to solve the process, explain your thought process and describe the method, so that the interviewer gets to know how you try to solve the question. Also, try to backup your answer with various instances and proofs.
Ask clarifying questions:
Also, try to ask the interviewer on what kind of answer they are looking for. This is necessary to help you reach a satisfactory answer.
Examples of Brainteaser Questions:
1. The “how many” brain teaser questions:
For example: “how many barbers are there in Delhi?”, “how many boxes of cornflakes do we eat each day?””how many tennis balls will fit inside a large jet?” and so on.
When you are asked such a question, start by estimating the total population and state the various factors which are relevant to the question. Start to explain your method to the interviewer. In these types of questions, the interviewer herself may not know the correct answer, but the only reason they are asking such a question is to check the analytical and calculative thinking of the candidate.
2. The riddle brainteaser:
Here, the interviewer might present you with bizarre and tough questions and they might ask the candidate to find a solution for such a question. They would usually include weird and nearly impossible scenarios to add difficulty to the question.
For example: “if you were shrunk and thrown into a blender, what you will do?” The main idea of asking such questions is to check the creativity and originality in the answer of the candidates and also to check if they are able to think logically when pressurised and stressed.
When given with such a question, the first thing you have to do is not to panic. Try to be calm and think of a witty answer. If you are given the blender question, then answer by saying that you will try to hide under the blades of the blender or you will try to balance on the blade. This shows that you are very creative and fun when given tough scenarios.
3. The brainteasers containing mathematics:
Some interviews try to present math problems so as to test the problem solving and mathematical skills of the individual. These are normally used in technical positions and also in finance interviews. These types of questions usually contain probability and also qualitative and quantitative assessment.
These types of questions are usually presented in the form of a story or a scenario and the candidate is used to find the answer by using the appropriate data presented within the question.
One typical question being, “if I try to roll two dices, then what is the probability that their sum would always be 10?” To answer such questions, try to use simple probability equations and mathematical skills to get to the right answer. These questions usually have a definite and correct answer and the interviewer might even know of it.
4. All round brainteasers:
These types of brainteasers have originated from big corporations like goggle and Microsoft and have been widely popular for a few years. One of the most famous questions being, “why are manholes round and in a circle?” The best way to answer such a question is to state the advantages of why manhole covers are round in shape and compare it with other shapes and state their disadvantages.
Another example is, “how can you tell that the refrigerator light is on?” Keep in mind that these types of questions do not have a definite answer and that your answer should be backed up by a concrete proof to be seen as a valid answer by the interviewer. One common answer is that you can determine whether or not the fridge light is on, by placing a light sensor inside the fridge.
5. Numerical brainteasers:
These types of brainteasers are slightly different from the mathematical types, and they are used to check whether or not the candidate has the basic mathematical skills that are essential for the job. These are also very prominent in technical and accounting interviews.
Examples include, “two mothers and two daughters sat at a table for breakfast. There were two eggs available, yet all of them ate an egg, explain how?” To answer such a question, just a simple logical reasoning is enough. Try to understand the clues through the question and draw out the scenario, from this you can find the correct answer efficiently. Also, tell the interviewer how you have reached the answer, so that it will be taken as a valid answer by them.
Although, brainteaser questions are being slowly phased out by many companies, it is still used as a deciding factor for selecting the right candidate, especially in professions where a good amount of logical and numerical ability is required. Brainteasers are still great way to show the interviewer what you are capable of handling and will also help you to provide a good impression to them during the interview.