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Google is known for grilling candidates with brain-teaser questions like, “How many golf balls can fit in a school bus?” or “Why are manhole covers round?” during job interviews. These questions have no correct answers; the point is to test a candidate’s ability to think on their feet.
The “puzzle interview is being used with greater frequency by employers in a variety of industries,” wrote Chris Wright, associate professor of psychology at San Francisco State University, in a recent study.
After examining 360 participants, the researchers found that brain teaser questions are “discouraging otherwise qualified workers” because many candidates feel the potential employer is treating them unfairly or setting them up for failure.
“If candidates give one bad answer, it could change their entire career trajectory,” Heidi Golledge, CEO and co-founder CareerBliss.com, told Martha C. White at Time magazine. “Candidates should have the ability to shine without putting them through questions designed to scare.”
Since job interviews are nerve-wracking enough, Golledge said that the best strategy is to make candidates feel comfortable so that they can think more clearly and effectively.
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