Monday, April 18, 2016

BOOK REVIEW: How Would You Move Mount Fuji? by William Poundstone



✭✭✭✭

ABOUT THE BOOK (from Amazon):

For years, Microsoft and other high-tech companies have been posing riddles and logic puzzles like these in their notoriously grueling job interviews. Now "puzzle interviews" have become a hot new trend in hiring. From Wall Street to Silicon Valley, employers are using tough and tricky questions to gauge job candidates' intelligence, imagination, and problem-solving ability -- qualities needed to survive in today's hypercompetitive global marketplace. For the first time, William Poundstone reveals the toughest questions used at Microsoft and other Fortune 500 companies -- and supplies the answers. He traces the rise and controversial fall of employer-mandated IQ tests, the peculiar obsessions of Bill Gates (who plays jigsaw puzzles as a competitive sport), the sadistic mind games of Wall Street (which reportedly led one job seeker to smash a forty-third-story window), and the bizarre excesses of today's hiring managers (who may start off your interview with a box of Legos or a game of virtual Russian roulette). How Would You Move Mount Fuji? is an indispensable book for anyone in business. Managers seeking the most talented employees will learn to incorporate puzzle interviews in their search for the top candidates. Job seekers will discover how to tackle even the most brain-busting questions, and gain the advantage that could win the job of a lifetime. And anyone who has ever dreamed of going up against the best minds in business may discover that these puzzles are simply a lot of fun. Why are beer cans tapered on the end, anyway?

MY REVIEW:

How Would You Move Mount Fuji? was published in 2004 so it may not be as relevant now as it was then for someone trying to get an inside scoop on Microsoft's interview process.  I would imagine it would still be helpful, though, for someone interviewing at Microsoft (or Google or a similar company) to understand how the interview process might go. No one knows the exact questions they will be asked during an interview, and half the battle seems to be getting your head in the right mindset so you can think through the response, even if the question doesn't have an exact right answer (i.e. how many piano tuners are there in the world?).

Other people who might enjoy this book would be those who enjoy logic puzzles.  I really enjoyed reading the questions, thinking through them and then reading the answers.  They can be great conversation pieces for the right audience.

Also, people who interview others for employment might enjoy reading about different interview styles and thinking about how those different styles may (or may not) work in their own environment. Personally, I think the puzzle style interview is cruel and would weed out a lot of people who aren't verbal processors. That doesn't mean they wouldn't be capable of thinking creatively.  Whether or not one agrees with the style, How Would You Move Mount Fuji? is a thought-provoking read for HR folks, interviewers and managers.