6 Trickiest Interview Questions and How to Nail Them.

Guesstimates and brainteasers are two types of interview questions commonly asked by Wall Street firms, consulting firms, and tech firms. They’re also the types of questions that can make or break an interview. Which means you better know how to prepare for them as well as how to nail them.

To that end, the first rule of guesstimates and brainteasers is there are two types of wrong answers: the random guess and giving up. The second rule is interviewers, in asking these questions, are trying to gauge your composure, thoughtfulness, and creativity, but not necessarily your ability to get the right answer. In fact, with respect to guesstimates—questions that ask you to come up with a figure, usually the size of a market or the number of objects in an area—interviewers themselves don’t always know the exact answer. Thus, the best approach for a guesstimate question is to think of a funnel: begin by thinking broadly, then slowly narrowing down the situation towards the answer.

As for brainteasers—questions such as “Why are manholes round?” (see No. 5 below) that might not have a definite answer—the best approach is think aloud. This will enable interviewers to hear your thought process. Of course, this might seem unnatural at first, but it’s absolutely essential in order to prove your analysis. Think of a high school calculus test where you’re awarded partial credit by showing your work.

In any case, below are six of the trickiest guesstimates and brainteasers in the interview business, along with how to answer them. Chances are if you know how to deal with these, you’ll know how to deal with others like them.

1. If I give you a traditional two-sided scale along with nine, similarly-sized balls—eight of which are of equal weight, one of which weighs less than the rest—how many times do you need to weigh the balls to determine which is the lighter one?
The purpose of this brainteaser is to challenge your process-of-elimination skills. Most people immediately think three times, but the answer is actually two. How you get to that answer is like this: First, you put six balls on the scale, three on each side. If the lighter one is in one of these two groups, you’ll know because one side will be heavier. If not, both sides will weigh the same, and you’ll know the lighter ball’s in the final group. Whatever the case, you’ll weigh two balls (one on each side) from the lighter grouping (either the three balls not weighed in the first weighing, or the lighter three in your first weighing). If the two balls are of equal weight, the light ball is the odd one out. If they aren’t, you already know the answer: the one that’s higher in the air.

2. How many square feet of pizza are eaten in the United States each month?
This is a classic guesstimate question where you need to think aloud. And so first off you round the U.S. population to 300 million people (it’s actually about 315 million but rounding will be much easier and your interviewer will not score you lower for rounding). Then estimate how many people eat pizza. A decent educated guess is two out of every three people, or 200 million. Now let’s say the average pizza-eating person eats pizza twice a month, and eats two slices at a time. That’s four slices a month. If the average slice of pizza is perhaps six inches at the base and 10 inches long, then the slice is 30 square inches of pizza. So, four pizza slices would be 120 square inches (30 times 4). Since one square foot equals 144 square inches (12 times 12), let’s assume that each person who eats pizza eats one square foot per month. Since there are 200 million pizza-eating Americans, 200 million square feet of pizza are consumed in the U.S. each month. To summarize: 300 million people in America, 200 million eat pizza, average slice of pizza is six inches at the base and 10 inches long or 30 square inches, average American eats four slices of pizza a month, four pieces times 30 square inches equals 120 square inches (one square foot is 144 square inches), so let’s assume one square foot per person, and thus one square foot times 200 million people equals 200 million square feet of pizza a month.

3. If you look at a clock and the time is 3:15, what’s the angle between the hour and the minute hands?
Usually, if the answer to a brainteaser seems too easy, chances are the answer’s wrong. And in this case, the answer is not zero degrees. The hour hand, remember, moves as well. That is, in addition to the minute hand. And so, at 3:15, the hour hand and the minute hand are not on top of each other. In fact, the hour hand has moved a quarter of the way between the 3 and 4. This means it’s moved a quarter of 30 degrees (360 degrees divided by 12 equals 30). So the answer, to be exact, is seven and a half degrees (30 divided by four).

4. How would you estimate the weight of the Chrysler building?
This is a process guesstimate where the interviewer wants to know if you know what to ask. First, you would find out the dimensions of the building (height, weight, depth). This will allow you to determine the volume of the building. Does it taper at the top? (Yes.) Then, you need to estimate the composition of the Chrysler building. Is it mostly steel? Concrete? How much would those components weigh per square inch? Remember the extra step: find out whether you’re considering the building totally empty or with office furniture, people, etc. If you’re including the contents, you might have to add 20 percent or so to the building’s weight.

5. Why are manhole covers round?
This is a classic brainteaser, which was reportedly first asked by a Microsoft interviewer. Here’s how to “solve” this brainteaser (remember to speak and reason out loud while solving this brainteaser): Why are manhole covers round? Could there be a structural reason? Why aren’t manhole covers square? It would make it harder to fit with a cover. You’d have to rotate it exactly the right way. The pipes below are also round, so fitting them might be easier, as might be making them. So many manhole covers are round because they don’t need to be rotated. There are no corners to deal with. Also, a round manhole cover won’t fall into a hole because it was rotated the wrong way, so it’s safer. Looking at this, it seems corners are a problem. You can’t cut yourself on a round manhole cover. And because it’s round, it can be more easily transported. One person can roll it.

6. If you have seven white socks and nine black socks in a drawer, how many socks do you have to pull out blindly in order to ensure that you have a matching pair?
The answer is three: if the first one is one color (say, white), and the second one is the other color (black), then the third one, no matter what the color, will make a matching pair. (Sometimes you’re not supposed to think that hard.)

Source: http://blogs.vault.com

Fish Consumption Is Associated with Lower Cerebrovascular Risk.

But supplementation with long-chain -3 fatty acids was not.

Fish consumption and long-chain -3 fatty acid intake are associated with lower coronary heart disease risk. In a systematic review and meta-analysis, investigators assessed whether such an association also exists for cerebrovascular disease (defined as ischemic or hemorrhagic stroke, or transient ischemic attack).

In 21 prospective cohort studies that involved 675,000 participants, researchers assessed fish consumption and cerebrovascular risk. Compared with weekly consumption of 1 servings of fish, consumption of 2 to 4 servings was associated with 6% lower risk for cerebrovascular disease, and consumption of 5 servings was associated with 12% lower risk; both differences were significant. In contrast, analysis of 14 prospective cohort studies that involved 305,000 participants revealed no association between dietary intake of long-chain -3 fatty acids (or circulating -3 biomarkers) and cerebrovascular risk. Likewise, analysis of 12 randomized trials that involved 62,000 participants showed that -3 supplementation (typically oil capsules at an average daily intake of 1.8 g; average follow-up, 3 years) was not associated with lower cerebrovascular risk.

Comment: In this large analysis, fish consumption, but not supplementation with long-chain -3 fatty acids, was associated with lower cerebrovascular risk. The authors speculate that the benefits of fish consumption likely are “mediated through a complex interplay among a wide range of nutrients commonly found in fish,” which cannot be captured in a supplement. However, given the observational design of the fish-consumption studies, residual confounding is possible (e.g., higher fish consumption might be associated with other healthy behaviors, such as consuming less red meat).

Source: Journal Watch General Medicine

When to Leave Your Company to Advance Your Career.

If you sift through recent employment figures in the United States, you’ll find an intriguing trend: a steady uptick in the number of people leaving their jobs to go to work with new companies. For several years workers held on to their positions thanks to the recession, but we’re starting to see employees testing the waters, especially at the managerial level. This raises an important question. How will you respond when opportunity knocks — and how can you prepare for success once it does?

We all know of people who have jumped ship and found great success in a new company. Less visible are those who fail or flame out when they make the change. Although the figures are elusive, the majority of data I’ve seen suggests that 40 to 50 percent of new hires at the middle level of management and above have not succeeded in their new companies 24 months after hire. That means you have about a one out of two chance that things will work out when you join a new company in a managerial position. So, what can you do to shift the odds to your favor?

First, think about why you’re considering the change. If it’s because you feel like you’re not moving forward in your current company as quickly as your peers, don’t rush into a new company. Instead start by soliciting what I call the “feedback that really counts“: how you are perceived by those who make promotional decisions in your company. What skills have you demonstrated? Which do you need to develop? And is there anything holding you back that you need to know about? Talented managers often get frustrated by their pace of career advancement, sign on with a new company, and run into the same problems that were an obstacle in their prior organization.

For example, Frank was a highly-skilled finance manager who advanced quickly early in his career based on his technical knowledge and desire for results. Over the past few years, however, his progress had stagnated, and he missed out on several promotions. Senior executives were encouraging. Hang in there; your time will come; things will open up soon. When he asked why he wasn’t getting ahead, his boss suggested that he improve his “communication” skills. This surprised Frank since he prided himself in his ability to speak and write clearly, and communicating to his team had always been a priority. When he probed for specific examples of communications issues, it turned out that Frank was right. His communication skills were fine — it was his inflexible, “my way or the highway” style that was holding him back. According to his peers, he needed to listen better and not get locked into his own position when there were differences of opinion.

Unfortunately, Frank saw this as “playing politics” and an unnecessary impediment to getting things done. Anxious to move ahead, he used his contacts in the industry to find a new position — but ended up leaving his new job after only nine months. The official reason was that he wasn’t a cultural fit. On one level this was true, but it didn’t address the finer point. Frank had joined a highly-collegial firm that valued collaboration and consensus decision making, and his new peers described him as arrogant and unwilling to learn how the company did things before rushing to try to sell his plans to senior management.

It’s usually easier to tackle leadership problems like Frank’s in your current company where you know the business and the players than in a new organization where people are less forgiving. Don’t underestimate the challenges of trying to address them when you join a new company, since you’ll be facing a lot of pressure to learn the ropes, develop a new set of relationships, and produce results fast.

That said, there are certainly times when you should explore the outside job market to increase the pace of your career advancement. It’s probably time to consider moving on if you face one of the following situations: 1) you’ve been passed over multiple times and have not succeeded in ferreting out the real scoop about the skills you need to display to move ahead; or 2) you are locked in your current position by a long-tenured manager and have been unsuccessful in engineering a move to a new part of the organization. If that’s the case, the company may implicitly be telling you that it’s quite happy to see you continue in your current role.

If venturing into the job market as the economy rebounds is on your radar screen, now’s the time to take some proactive steps. How strong is your external network? Too often managers focus virtually all of their attention on their companies and become internally focused, thus cutting themselves off from outside perspectives and sources of information. If you’re in that boat, get active in industry and professional groups or civic/community organizations that can expand your range of contacts.

Beyond serving as your eyes and ears regarding new job openings, members of your network can help you determine whether a new company would fit well with your style. In what kind of environment do you thrive? Do you prefer a fast-paced company that stimulates a fair amount of internal competition or a more methodical firm that puts a premium on planning and getting everyone on board with new initiatives? Keep in mind that most external searches take four to six months to complete — and then the company gives you a weekend to decide whether or not to accept a job offer. If the time is approaching for you to test the outside market, get out ahead of the curve and build a network that can quickly put you in touch with people who know the new firm and help you know if you’ll be part of the 50 percent of new hires who will make it.

Source: http://blogs.hbr.org


18 Secrets To Giving A Presentation Like Steve Jobs.

In his book “The Presentation Secrets of Steve Jobs,” Carmine Gallo lays out 18 steps you can follow to give talks like the founder of Apple:

1. “Plan in analog.” Don’t get stuck in PowerPoint from the start. Play with ideas loosely on whiteboards or index cards.

2. “Answer the one question that matters most.” And that question is “Why should I care?”

3. “Develop a messianic sense of purpose.” Where is your passion for this subject coming from? Convey that.

4. “Create Twitter-like headlines.” Be to the point in your copy. People don’t want to read, they want to hear a story.

5. “Draw a road map.” Use a three act structure so your audience feels the presentation is organized, with a beginning, middle and end.

6.Introduce the antagonist.” What’s the problem that needs to be solved or the enemy to be overcome?

7. “Reveal the conquering hero.” What’s the solution to the problem? What’s the new angle or development that will lead to victory?

8. “Channel their inner Zen.” Keep everything simple, to the point and minimalist.

9.Dress up your numbers.” Present stats in a context that is relevant to your audience.

10.Use ‘amazingly zippy’ words.” Review your copy closely, and edit, edit, edit.

11. Share the stage.” It’s not a one-man show. Rotate in other presenters if possible.

12.Stage your presentation with props.” Add life and break up stretches of talk by giving demos.

13.Reveal a Holy Shit moment.” There’s always a surprise at the end—a scripted one.

14.Master stage presence.” Manage your body language and delivery. Match them to what your presentation requires.

15.Make it look effortless.” Rehearse, rehearse, rehearse.

16. “Wear the appropriate costume.” “Dress like the leader you want to become.”

17. Toss the script.” Once you’ve rehearsed it all, make it relaxed and natural.

18.Have fun.” Even if things go sideways, roll with it.

Source: http://www.businessinsider.com