Brain teasers are puzzle-like questions that challenge a person’s problem-solving skills. They often require lateral thinking or “thinking outside the box,” because answers can’t be calculated and solutions can’t be reached via conventional methods.
Employers sometimes use brain teasers during interviews to understand a potential hire’s critical thinking, logic, creativity, and mathematical skills. They also allow employers to see how candidates perform under pressure.
In this article, we’ll list smart brain teasers for interviews you are likely to encounter.
Table of contents
- What Are Brain Teasers?
- Why Do Interviewers Ask Brain Teasers?
- How To Answer Brain Teaser Interview Questions
- 10 Smart Brain Teasers For Interviews
- We Also Recommend
Brain teasers are puzzles that test one’s thinking and problem-solving skills. The answer to a brain teaser is never obvious. Brain teasers, on the other hand, need a creative cognitive process known as lateral thinking or coming at solutions in unusual ways. They may also entail the innovative use of mathematics and formal logic.
Brain teasers may be traced back to ancient Greece in the form of arithmetic and logic puzzles. Answering (and creating) riddles has always been regarded as a sign of wit and dexterity.
There are many different sorts of brain teasers, each requiring a particular level of knowledge and thinking to complete. Some may demand math skills, while others may require careful listening skills, and yet others may require imagination and daring.
A brain teaser may have a single correct response, numerous solutions, or be open-ended with no clear correct answer.
Interviewers use brain teasers to access an individual’s approach to problem-solving. They are usually asked alongside typical interview questions and form part of the process of understanding the candidate.
During brain teaser sessions, the interviewer isn’t out to check whether you are right or wrong but to check how you think and approach tough problems.
Brain teasers are also used to reveal a candidate’s skills and abilities. They provide vital insight into how someone evaluates and uses information, as well as how they solve issues. They may also give you an excellent idea of how effectively a possible employee handles stress, how intently they listen, and how well they can communicate their answers.
On the flip side, there are still unfair advantages of brain teasers. For instance, someone who is familiar with a particular brain teaser will have mastered how to give the right answer to the question irrespective of the fact that the wisdom is not solely he’s. Nonetheless, brain teaser questions are ideally a good way of seeing how someone deals with pressure and moments of uncertainty.
In addition to the normal preparation for interviews, there is every need to know how to answer brain teaser questions. If you want to know how to tackle brain teaser questions, these tips will be helpful:
#1 Come prepared
First things first, you’ll want to understand the underlying aims of asking these types of questions. Questions like these can provoke our inner test anxiety but understand that the interviewer is simply trying to get a picture of how you work through and communicate difficult issues.
Take a couple of deep breaths before your interview (and remember to stay breathing during the process) to help your nerves settle and bring about a state of mind that’s ready to take on challenging tasks. Bring a pen and paper to your interview to take notes or work out calculations.
Lastly, try to review your basic math skills before coming in. Many brain teasers rely on creative uses of simple math skills, so it can be super helpful to brush up on some algorithms and formulas from your last math class.
SEE ALSO: List of 8 Do On the Spot Interview Test
#2 Listen attentively
One of the most important things you can do to accurately and cleverly solve a brain teaser is to listen attentively to the words. Many brain teasers rely on small but crucial pieces of information getting past you, so close listening is always the best first step in answering these questions.
Don’t try to answer the questions as they’re being asked to you or immediately after. With this strategy, you’re sure to become attached to certain pieces of information while ignoring other (potentially vital) pieces of information. Sometimes the answer can even be hidden within the question, so pay attention.
#3 Think out loud
Remember that brain teaser questions are asked to get insight into your thinking. State every thought you have in regards to answering this question out loud. Any assumptions or estimations that you make should be stated to the interviewer.
Make sure you have a methodical approach to answering the question. Come up with a working strategy that you can use and take the interviewer along for the ride. Come up with a formula for mathematical questions.
In the end, if you’d like, offer some caveats to your answer. Mention the things that you might have left out or not taken into account.
Getting flustered by these questions won’t solve anything, so try to stay as calm as possible.
#5 Follow through logically
Begin your answer with a logical sequence of events, basing your response on assumptions or estimates if required. Place emphasis on your thought process rather than the final answer.
#6 Ask for clarification
If you are not sure about something, ask for clarification. Failing to understand the question can result in you completely misinterpreting it or providing an inaccurate answer. See if there is additional information that the interviewer can provide. They may actually be waiting for you to ask for further clarification as part of the question. If the interviewer cannot provide any further information, they will certainly tell you as much.
#7 Explain your answers
If you are working out the answer in your head, think out loud. Tell the interviewer the process of your thoughts and how you are reaching a decision. If, however, you suddenly reach another answer during your thought process, tell the interviewer as they will also be looking for someone who can devise multiple scenarios to real business issues.
Here’s a list of smart brain teasers and their most suitable answers as collated from top websites.
#1 If you were given a million dollars to launch your best entrepreneurial idea, what would it be?
How to Answer: This question is designed to test your planning abilities, and interestingly enough, your entrepreneurial spirit. While you might think that companies would want to quash your business dreams, many employers actually prefer employees with entrepreneurial dreams. It shows someone who is a thinker, a planner, and a creative, all of which are qualities that many employers want.
#2 “If you were shrunk to the size of a pencil and put in a blender, how would you get out?”
How to Answer: Although this question definitely has the potential to throw you off (after all, how did you wind up in a blender in the first place?), what a hiring manager is looking for is your problem-solving ability. They’re also looking to see if a somewhat impossible situation (i.e., being stuck in a blender) will make you cave from the pressure or sit back and come up with a solution.
#3 How many six-year-olds are there in Utah? How many grains of sugar would fit in a teaspoon?
How to Answer: These questions need a combination of basic maths, educated guesswork, and common sense. The point is to get to a vaguely plausible estimate by an appropriate method. For the six-year-olds question, for example, you need to find sensible ways to estimate the population of Utah and the percentage of six-year-olds in the general population.
The real point is that you mustn’t say, “I don’t know.” (They know that already.) Another bad response is, “Can you tell me the population of the US overall?” (They won’t.)
Grab a pencil and have a go. It’s important to think aloud so your interviewer understands your approach.
#4 Two mothers and two daughters sit down to eat eggs for breakfast. They ate three eggs and each person at the table ate an egg. Explain how.
How to Answer: One of the mothers is also a grandmother. Therefore the other mother is both a daughter and a mother to the granddaughter.
#5 You’re escaping a labyrinth, and there are three doors in front of you. The door on the left leads to a raging inferno. The door in the center leads to a deadly assassin. The door on the right leads to a lion that hasn’t eaten in three months. Which door do you choose?
How to Answer: The smartest answer to choose in this scenario is the door at the right. Because the lion would be dead after not eating for three months.
#6 It’s dark in your room. You have a lot of white socks and black socks in your drawer. You want to get a matching pair, but socks are not organized. All socks are identical except for the color. What is the minimum number of socks you need to take to get a matching pair to wear?
How to Answer: You need at least 3 socks. If the first sock is black and the next sock is black you got a pair. If the first sock is black, the second sock is white, you will get a pair regardless of if the third sock is white or black.
#7 If electric train is traveling south, which way is smoke going?
Possible Answer: There is no smoke since it is an electric train.
#8 A family lives in a large apartment building, on the 17th floor. They have a son. Every morning he takes the elevator from the 17th floor to the ground floor and goes to school. In the afternoon he uses the elevator to get to the 6th floor and then uses the stairs for the remaining floors. Why?
Possible Answer: Because he cannot reach buttons higher than 6.
#9 “Sell me my iPhone.”
How to Answer: This is a brain teaser as well as a practical test of your skills as a salesperson. The interviewer will pick an object around the room close by, such as their phone or a pen, and ask you to convince them to buy it.
It may seem like a tough, nerve-wracking task at first, but remember that they already own this item, so there are already a wealth of reasons for you to work with. The best strategy is to emphasize the need – why does this person need this thing? What value does it serve?
However, try to paint a striking picture rather than simply stating the facts. Stimulate the interviewer’s imagination by describing in detail a time when this object may be a lifesaver.
#10 How would you describe a sunset to a blind person?
How to Answer: This question tests your knowledge and grasp of a given concept, as well as an opportunity to display great amounts of creativity in your answer. This question might also take the form of “Explain [a difficult concept] to [someone it would be difficult to explain it to].”
Here, you are expected to picture the blind person, his potentialities, and extra abilities. Dig deeply into your powers of creative description and everything you know about the concept or thing you are meant to describe. Remember that being able to teach a concept at varying levels is a mark of understanding it very well, so lean heavily on your knowledge of the subject.
Mastering your logical wits is one skill that is advantageous especially during interview sessions. Brain teasers aim to check the interviewee’s level of logical strength as it relates to the work in view.
- zippia.com – Great Brain Teaser Interview Questions (with answers)
- flexjobs.com – Brain Teaser Interview Questions: What They Mean, and How to Answer Them
- brightnetwork.co.uk – How to answer brainteaser questions
- resources.biginterview.com – How to Answer Brainteaser Interview Questions