10 Common Questions That Make You Think (With Sample Responses)
Interview puzzles are one way a hiring manager can see how well you can solve problems and think outside the box. Programmers, analysts, and coders often get these kinds of questions, but any candidate should be ready for them because they can come up in any interview. You might want to practice answering and solving these kinds of questions as you get ready for your interview. This article will teach you how to answer ten common interview puzzles by giving you examples.
What are puzzles for the interview?
Interview puzzles are like brain teasers in that they are critical thinking problems that can force the interviewee to use creative thinking and problem-solving skills. Interviewers often use these types of puzzle questions to see if a potential employee is a good fit for the company by seeing how well they can use strategies and higher-order thinking to solve complex problems. Usually, interview puzzles are only given to people applying for jobs in IT, like software engineers, designers, computer programmers, and coders.
Also, the right answer to these kinds of interview questions may not be as important as how you solve the problem. But if you try to solve these puzzles before your interview, you can make it more likely that your answers will be right. Also, the way you think about a puzzle can show the interviewer that you are competent and can solve problems in the real world.
How to answer puzzle-based questions at an interview
The steps you can take when you’re asked a puzzle interview question are explained in the next guide.
- Think about what’s wrong.
- Ask for a better explanation.
- Use what you’ve learned.
- Tell me why you think that.
- Provide a solution.
1. Consider the problem.
Start by thinking about what kind of puzzle you have to solve. For example, you might decide that the puzzle the interviewer asked you to solve is a riddle or a problem about finding an amount. Once you know what kind of puzzle you are trying to solve, you can use problem-solving techniques to help you find the answer.
2. Ask them to explain.
As you think about the question and what kind of puzzle it could be, you might ask for more information about parts of the puzzle you might not have understood. Some interview puzzles can get pretty hard, and it can help to make sense of some of the information they give you. Asking for more details can also show the interviewer that you look for information and help as you need it to do a job. Employers may be impressed by your skills and the fact that you took the initiative to figure out what was being asked of you.
3. Do what you already know
Even if you have to know numbers or math to solve a puzzle, many of them can be solved with simple math. In this case, you can use the information and strategies you already know to help you solve any puzzles you might be asked to solve during your interview. For example, you might decide that you need to use a probability strategy to solve the “ants in a triangle” puzzle (see below).
4. Tell me why you think that
As you answer interview puzzle questions, you can show the interviewer how you think and what you are thinking. If you explain your thought process as you solve a problem, the interviewer can see how you plan, think, and solve problems under pressure. Interview puzzles can be more about showing off your analytical and creative thinking than finding the right answer. By explaining how you got to your answer, you can show off both your skills and how you solve problems.
5. Provide a solution
You can also be sure that you will give a response. Even if your answer is wrong, the fact that you used logic, reasoning, and critical thinking to figure it out may be more important to potential employers than the answer itself. So, in most cases, you might want to make sure you answer every question you are asked to solve.
Examples of the different kinds of interview puzzles
Interview puzzles can be made up of many different kinds of problems, but most of them can be grouped into three main types. During a puzzle interview, you might be asked to solve riddle puzzles, find numbers, or solve puzzles about math tricks.
Riddles and questions
These kinds of puzzles can be asked in an interview in a way that is similar to a riddle or a question with a trick answer. You can use these puzzles to see how well you can use logic to solve problems in a creative way. In an interview puzzle, the following riddle problems are often used.
One example of a riddle or trick question is the Heaven’s Gate puzzle.
There are two doors in front of you. The “right” door is one, and the “wrong” door is the other. There are two guards, one at each door. One of the guards always tells the truth, and the other always lies. You don’t know which guard always tells the truth and which always lies. To find the “right” door, you can only ask each guard one question. What question should you ask?
“You should ask, ‘What would the other guard say if I asked him which door is the “right” one?’ Each guard’s answer will always lead you to the “wrong” door, so you can choose the other door.
Finding out how much
Most of the time, these puzzles test a person’s ability to think about numbers and find patterns in trick questions. If you are getting ready for a puzzle interview, you might see the following puzzles.
The “ants in a triangle” problem is a well-known puzzle where you have to figure out a number.
Three ants are in the corners of a triangle with equal sides. Each ant moves along the edges of the triangle in a different direction. How likely is it that none of the ants will bump into each other along the triangle?
Use probability to figure out what to do.
“There’s a 50/50 chance that the ants will never meet, and there’s a 50/50 chance that at least two of them will. So, all of the ants will have to move either clockwise or counterclockwise. This cuts the first chance of the ants not running into each other in half, from 50% to 25%, because half of 50 is 25.
Number or math puzzles are problems that can be solved with number sense. Often, an interviewer will ask this kind of question to see how you think about numbers, find patterns in them, and solve problems with them. Even though the answer might not be as important as the way you think, you can still practice these kinds of puzzles to make sure you get the right answer.
The “100 Doors” problem is a common math question that an interviewer might ask.
There are 100 closed doors in a straight line. You walk by each door 100 times, always starting at the first door. The first time you walk by, you go to each door and check to see if it’s open or closed. If it’s closed, you open it, and if it’s open, you shut it. On your second trip through, you only go to every other door. You start at the second door in line, so you skip two doors when you count them. On the third pass, you go to every third door, on the fourth pass, every fourth door, and so on until you have only passed by the hundredth door. When you passed by the last time, which doors were open and which were closed?
To figure out how to solve this puzzle, you may need to work with perfect squares and number divisors.
“Any door you go through will be gone through the same number of times as the door’s divisors. For example, if you walk by door 38, you will see that the divisors of 38 are 1, 2, 19, 38, etc. So, on your first pass, you’ll open the door, on your second, you’ll close it, on your nineteenth, you’ll open it, and on your thirty-eighth, you’ll shut it.
Since 38 is not a perfect square, it will stay closed at the end. So the solution is to leave every door that has a perfect square open at the end while closing the doors that don’t have them.
How to get ready for a puzzle interview
You can also prepare for your puzzle interview with the following tips:
Check out resources for brain teasers.
Before your interview, try to solve puzzles like these. Practicing each type of puzzle over and over can help you improve your chances of being able to solve the problems asked at the interview.
Bring a pad of paper and a pencil to the interview with you.
Having a place to write down the problem can help you picture the puzzle you are trying to solve.
Try to give an answer to each question.
Use logic and reasoning to solve the problem as best you can, and always try to come up with a solution.
If you have to write down the steps you took to solve a puzzle, make sure the interviewer can see them.
Part of what an interviewer looks for in each candidate is how they use problem-solving strategies to come up with a solution.