Think You Can Work for a Tech Company? Take this Quiz


[qi:076] Glassdoor, a Sausalito, Calif.-based company that tracks employee satisfaction, is opening up a new section of its site devoted to job interview questions and details about the job interview experience. According to the rankings, Amazon (s amzn) has a more difficult process than Google (s goog).

Glassdoor sent over a few examples of the questions asked by top technology firms, four of which we’ve pulled, lightly edited and posted below. We don’t have the answers to the actual questions, but see if you can guess which company asks each question. Company names and the job that you’d be applying for if you were asked each question, are below the fold.

1) You have 25 horses. What is the minimum number of races in which you can find the top three? In one race you can race five horses, and you don’t have a timer.
A. Amazon                               C. Google
B. Intuit                                   D. Intel

2) Determine whether the binary representation of a number is a palindrome or not. Code it on a white board.
A. Yahoo                                   C. Google
B. Nvidia                                   D. Amazon

3) Given a dictionary, with all possible anagrams of a word, how would you test it out and what is the data structure that you will use to construct it with design of the same?
A. Yahoo                                    C. AMD
B. Facebook                               D. Amazon

4) You have two strings, each of which burns in exactly one hour, although not at a constant rate. How do you measure 45 minutes with only these two strings?
A. Google                                   C. Microsoft
B. Intuit                                     D. MySpace

Answers: 1. Google, Linux Kernel Engineer; 2. Amazon, software development engineer II; 3.Yahoo, senior QA engineer; 4. Intuit, software engineer intern



Since horses are picked randomly for a race, all three could be chosen to go into a single race (initially), thus it is safe to cull only the two slowest horses at each stage. First five races will therefore give you the 15 fastest, next three give you the 9 fastest, next two the four fastest, final race the three fastest. Total:11. This minimizes the total number of races, as well as the number of races that any one horse has to run (4).

If you don’t mind running a particular horse more times, then you can be a bit more clever. Take the second-fastest from each race of a given round and put it into the next race with four new horses. From this race, you only need to take those horses that are faster than the original second(up to a total of two). For the third race, take four new horses plus either the original second or the second from the second race (whichever is faster), etc. This way, after the first 6 races are run, you have it narrowed down to at most 8. It will take at most two more races to determine the three fastest (run all horses if 7 or fewer arrived from the first round, run only the seven slowest if 8 arrived). The maximum total number of races in the worst case scenario is thus 8. I’d be interested to hear a way to do it with fewer.


I think question 1 is a disguised poker problem. You have 25 cards and you want to know how many 5-card hands contain 3 particular cards. The answer is Binomial[22, 2]=231. I may be completely misinterpreting the problem though.


For the first Question, i get best answer(Minimum number of rounds) as 7. If anyone get a better answer, kindly post the solution.


“Glassdoor, a Sausalito, Calif.-based company that tracks employee satisfaction,”…let me guess, those working at these companies aren’t satisfied? What DUMB questions. These kind of questions will not determine how passionate someone is about what they are being hired to do, and in turn relate to how productive they will be. IT needs to move away from these kind of questions and instead give real world examples/questions.


Just googled for last one alone…
Light three ends at the same time i.e. light two ends of one and one end of the other.

When the first string, the one whose both ends are lit, has completely burned up, that’s half an hour. at that time light the last end. Now it takes another 15 minutes for the new end to catch up to the original lit end…


Shoot man, I was still trying to work through that. Maybe you can edit your post and preface it with a spoiler warning.


{AJ of here} Thanks for sharing information about Glassdoor’s new section Stacey. Feedback from your readers is always important to us!


i like google’s question about if one can tell 10dB vs. 20dB optical fiber attenuators by licking it… wonder if any readers here know the answer….

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