Google has now banned its infamous brain teaser interview questions. And that's probably a good thing, because if Alphabet executive chairman Eric Schmidt had been asked them when he interviewed all those years ago, he might have been dinged some points for struggling to come up with the answer.
Schmidt was speaking at an usual conference called "Summit at Sea," in which attendees cruise together for three days on a ship in international waters, reports Quartz's Olivia Goldhill. And one of the questions Schmidt was asked was this:
You're the captain of a pirate ship and you find a chest of gold. Your crew gets to vote on how the gold is divided up. If fewer than half of the pirates agree with you, you die. How do you recommend apportioning the gold in such a way that you get a good share of the booty but still survive.
Schmidt hemmed and hawed, asked for the question to be repeated, asked if he could ask clarifying questions and then came up with this answer:
"Let's do the math...if half die. No, if I die... No, if they don't like me, I die. This is, like, a really bad question. ... It seems to me that if more than half are happy, I survive. I propose, that we give 49% of the pirates stock in internet companies, and 51% get the gold."
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Despite the kvetching and complaining about the question, he actually did come up with the "correct" answer, which is to give the pirates 51% of the gold and keep the other 49% for himself.
However, we'd argue that giving away 51% is still pretty risky depending on how many people in the crew there are. If a large crowd is effectively sharing half the gold while the captain keeps half for himself, that's not exactly booty income equality and can lead to resentment. The crew may then be tempted to elect a captain that promises to make the boat great again.
So it says something about Schmidt's psyche that he wanted to double down and secure his life by giving the pirates stock in internet companies, too. In the Valley, it seems anyone who has access to gold has access to stock in internet companies. The life-saving questions really is: which company? Google stock? Probably save your life. Yahoo? Get the plank.
By the way, here are some other other brain teaser interview questions Google used to ask:
How many golf balls can fit in a school bus?
How many piano tuners are there in the entire world?
Why are manhole covers round?
How many times a day does a clock's hands overlap?
Explain the significance of "dead beef"
Click here for the answers, explanations and more banned interview questions.
Now see the worst body language mistakes to make in an interview:
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