# Questions From a Job Interview at Google

by on February 23, 2009

I happened on an interesting blog post at EmptyVoices.com about some job interview questions being asked at Google.

Here are the 10 along with some of my thoughts that I found most interesting.

## 1

How many golf balls can fit in a school bus?

This question is not as difficult as it first seems – everyone has a sense of how large a bus and a golf ball is – so what you have to do is calculate the approximate volume of the bus and see how many times it’s larger than the golf ball.

## 2

You are shrunk to the height of a nickel and your mass is proportionally reduced so as to maintain your original density. You are then thrown into an empty glass blender. The blades will start moving in 60 seconds. What do you do?

There are a number of different solutions proposed to this question on Reddit but it seems that none of them are 100% accurate. The most popular answers seem to be “lie down and hope that the blades won’t hit you”. Someone tested this solution with an actual nickel and found out that the air drag generated by the blades will make it impossible for the coin to be still. Other popular answers include “climb out because the wall of the blender is sloped” and “you’d be able to jump out”. Someone also noted that this might be a trick question because “one wouldn’t survive the throwing into the blender”. It seems that the objective of this question is to get an understanding of the interviewee’s problem solving skills – it might be that there is no one and only correct answer.

## 3

How much should you charge to wash all the windows in Seattle?

To answer this question you should have an understanding about Seattle – how many people does it have and how many windows does the city have on average per person. With these numbers you should be able to come up with a pretty good ball park figure.

## 4

Explain a database in three sentences to your eight-year-old nephew.

I don’t have an eight year old nephew

## 5

How many times a day does a clock’s hands overlap?

This one is a logic question and is actually quite simple if you are any good at visualizing things.

## 6

Every man in a village of 100 married couples has cheated on his wife. Every wife in the village instantly knows when a man other than her husband has cheated, but does not know when her own husband has. The village has a law that does not allow for adultery. Any wife who can prove that her husband is unfaithful must kill him that very day. The women of the village would never disobey this law. One day, the queen of the village visits and announces that at least one husband has been unfaithful. What happens?

This one is quite difficult! I looked around the internet and found an answer that seems to be true but in order to make it more interesting for you I will publish it on Wednesday in the comments.

## 7

If you look at a clock and the time is 3:15, what is the angle between the hour and the minute hands?

This is another logic question – and no the answer is not zero!

## 8

You are at a party with a friend and 10 people are present including you and the friend. your friend makes you a wager that for every person you find that has the same birthday as you, you get \$1; for every person he finds that does not have the same birthday as you, he gets \$2. would you accept the wager?

No? According to an article on Wikipedia when there are at least 23 random people in a room the probability of meeting someone with the same birthday as you becomes greater than 50%.

## 9

How many piano tuners are there in the entire world?

This is another easier question. If you know that the total world population is about 6.5 billion and make an educated guess that every 50 000th person in the world is a piano tuner you get 130 000 piano tuners

## 10

You have five pirates, ranked from 5 to 1 in descending order. The top pirate has the right to propose how 100 gold coins should be divided among them. But the others get to vote on his plan, and if fewer than half agree with him, he gets killed. How should he allocate the gold in order to maximize his share but live to enjoy it?

The correct answer is that one pirate ends up with 98 percent of the gold. But the important question is which pirate and why? Check out Wikipedia for the answer.

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anon February 25, 2009 at 12:59 am

When I took their interview (I got to level 2) they didn’t ask any questions like this. It’s all very low level algorithm questions and “How would you optimize that?” then “And what’s the O notation?”.

Roman February 25, 2009 at 7:20 pm

I guess they ask different questions for different positions as well.
And it probably also depends on the person who is interviewing you – maybe someone in Google just wanted to have some fun

Nick February 28, 2009 at 1:53 pm

Ummm, what about the answer you were going to post on Wednesday?

Roman February 28, 2009 at 2:35 pm

Auch – I completely forgot!
The answer is – 100 days will pass and then suddenly all the women will kill all their husbands.
I still don’t completely understand how it works but that’s the answer I found from a math forum!

Nick February 28, 2009 at 2:47 pm

Hmmm, I might have to research that one a little bit…been reading about pirates since I posted that last comment…some interesting stuff there.

v February 19, 2010 at 8:32 am

nothing happens as the law doesn’t apply to the queen..

Car Insurance Phi May 29, 2009 at 3:47 pm

All 10 reasons why I don’t work for Google.

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