You may think once you graduate, you'll never have tests again. Brace yourself: Interviews can include mind teasers and tests. This type of interview is called a case interview. Case interviews present hypothetical problems for you to solve. The interviewer will evaluate your listening skills, your logic in problem solving, and whether you can find a solution under pressure. To win in a case interview, you need to practice, practice, practice.
There Is No Right Answer
Generally there is no right answer to brain teasers, but rather the interviewer is evaluating your approach, analysis, poise and communication style, according to the University of Virginia. The case interview helps a company find the best and brightest talent: those who can think on their feet, analyze and solve problems, and be able to defend their recommendations. In your preparation for a case interview, remember that it's not about giving the right answer, but explaining how you got there.
While most firms give verbal questions, some consist of written questions. You will be given 30 to 45 minutes to read the question and make notes and then you are asked your thoughts. Problem solving can be one on one, or at other times you're part of a group. You will be evaluated on your ability to work with a team and the role you assume in the team.
Examples of Typical Teasers
Brain teasers range in difficulty. For example, start from a place on the Earth's surface and travel south for 100 miles, east for 100 miles, and finally north for 100 miles and you get back to your starting point. Where did you start? Another example, used in Microsoft interviews asks: A stick burns out in one hour from one end to the other. How do you measure 45 minutes using two such sticks?
As if you need more anxiety before going into an interview, brain teasers add another level of pressure. To prepare, study as many questions as you can and practice saying your answers. Your ability to articulate effectively shows confidence, even if you aren't sure about the answer. Don't be afraid to ask for clarification. Communication and comprehension are part of the evaluation, so it's extremely important to focus and understand the question.
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