Your interview is a great opportunity to showcase your technical and analytical skill sets to the employers.
A job interview is the ultimate test of your on-field experience, technical knowledge, and problem-solving skills.
To assess your lateral thinking, the interviewer may ask you to solve some interview puzzles. Preparing for these puzzles beforehand can help you land your desired job easily. In this article, we will highlight what are interview puzzles and how to answer them with zero errors!
What Do You Understand by Interview Puzzles?
In an interview, candidates are given certain questions that invoke the candidate to use their analytical and problem-solving abilities. These questions based on logical reasoning and critical thinking are called interview puzzles.
Majority of the interviewers prefer asking such questions because it helps them understand your problem solving abilities, your approach towards a problem, your thought process, and your strategy development skills. Certain technical job interviews for the posts of software developer or data scientist require such skills to suit the job profile.
How to Answer an Interview Puzzle?
To answer an interview puzzle correctly, you must follow the below-mentioned steps:
Take Your Time to Understand the Problem
Before you hastily answer the interview puzzle, take a deep breath and a few seconds to identify the puzzle category and think how to go about it. Some of the popular categories of interview puzzles are - brain teasers, number tricks, and riddles. Once you understand the interview puzzle category and how to approach it, you can use your critical thinking skills to arrive at an answer.
Ask Clarification Questions
A major reason why interview puzzles are hard to solve for candidates is because they can be quite confusing and some candidates may even end up misinterpreting the questions. Therefore, it is always better to ask clarification questions about the parts of the puzzle that you don’t understand.
When you ask such questions to the interviewer, it creates an impression that you are an inquisitive person who is not hesitant to ask for multiple resources to finalise a task.
Use Practiced Strategies
Majority of the interview puzzles are based on basic mathematical formulas and concepts. Therefore, to ensure that you answer the puzzle correctly, it is best to practice these core mathematical concepts beforehand and utilise them during the interview.
Don’t try to invent new methods on the spot to answer a question you’ve practiced for before. Always try to stick to what you know and believe your concepts and strategies.
Give the Explanation of Your Answer
Interviewers appreciate it when candidates can showcase their thought process to the interviewer. It will help them to better understand your approach towards problem-solving and assess whether it fits with the work culture of the company or not.
Don’t Hesitate to Provide the Answer
The interview puzzles are meant to test your lateral thinking and analytical skills. Therefore, most of the interviewers don’t expect candidates to arrive at the correct solution of the question on their very first attempt. So, even if you’re unsure about your answer, it is best for you to still state it during the interview.
What are the 6 Most Common Interview Puzzles?
Problem Statement: Three ants are sitting at the corners of a triangle. Each of the ants start picking a random direction and move in it along the triangle edge. What is the probability for the collision of any two ants?
Answer: As you can understand from the question, every ant has only two choices - pick one of the two edges that originate from the corner at which the ant is sitting. So you can take two scenarios here - either all the ants move in a clockwise or anticlockwise direction. The total possibility for collision is 23. Hence, out of 8 possibilities, 2 will not cause the collision. Therefore, the collision probability is - 6/8.
Problem Statement: There are two gigantic gates in front of you that are guarded by one guard each. One of these gates leads up to heaven and the other to hell. The catch is - one of the guards always tells a lie and the other always speaks the truth. How will you find the gate to heaven by just asking one question to the guards?
Answer: Ask the guard - What will the other guard say if I go up to him and ask about the gate to hell?
Problem Statement: You are first blindfolded. A person places 10 coins on the table in front of you. The person tells you that there are 5 coins each facing heads up and facing tails up. You’re only allowed to touch the coins but not see them. Can you arrange the coins into two piles with the same number of tails up?
Answer: Yes. Just make two piles of five coins each and flip all the 5 coins in one of the coin piles.
Problem Statement: Imagine it is your birthday and you have to cut your birthday cake into eight equal pieces. However, you’re allowed to make only 3 cuts. Is it possible?
Answer: First, cut the cake into 4 quarters using a vertical and a horizontal cut. Then stack the quarters on top of each other and cut them in half.
Problem Statement: You have 10 balls in front of you. You have to place them in 5 lines containing 4 balls each.
Answer: First, draw a star with a pentagonal shape at the centre. At the intersection of the pentagon, place one ball each. Then, place the remaining 5 balls on the vertices of the pentagon.
Problem Statement: There are 6 lanes in a car track. You have to find out the fastest cars out of the 36 by conducting the minimal amount of races.
Answer: First, conduct 6 car races with a group of six cars each and follow it up with a race amongst the winners of these six races. The final winner is the fastest car. Then conduct similar car races to find the runner ups. Using this method, 8 car races can be conducted.
Although they might seem intimidating at first, interview puzzles are a true test of your wit and technical knowledge. Therefore, ensure that you go to your technical interview prepared with plenty of questions. Also, these interview puzzles would be of great help to clear Hack with Infy coding competitions which are held to test programmers for the IT giant Infosys.