Laszlo Bock
Laszlo Bock, Google's senior vice president of people operations, said brain-teasers were of limited value in identifying talent

Google is mercifully to call time on its policy of subjecting applicants to brain-teasers and conundrums after concluding that such questions were useless in identifying the best candidate.

The company, frequently cited as one of the best places to work, decided to abandon questions such as: "How many piano tuners are there in the world?"; "Why are manholes round?" Or "A man pushed his car to a hotel and lost his fortune. What happened?"

The questions were likened by some to the mind-games traditionally played by Oxbridge dons when interviewing sixth-formers, such as the infamous: "Would you rather be an apple or a banana?"

Laszlo Bock, senior vice president of people operations at Google, said: "On the hiring side, we found that brainteasers are a complete waste of time. 'How many golf balls can you fit into an airplane? How many gas stations in Manhattan?' A complete waste of time. They don't predict anything. They serve primarily to make the interviewer feel smart."

Instead of brainteasers, Bock confided, "what works well are structured behavioural interviews, where you have a consistent rubric for how you assess people, rather than having each interviewer just make stuff up."

He provided this example of the new, favoured, question type: "Give me an example of a time when you solved an analytically difficult problem."

Google spokeswoman Jenna Wandres confirmed the company has stopped using brainteasers.

"We have shifted away from these types of questions because candidates hate them, answers leak easily and, most importantly, research on the connection between being able to correctly 'solve' a brainteaser and future job performance and/or IQ is questionable and inconsistent," Wandres said.

Without consulting or conferring, please answer the following questions.

1. In a country in which people only want boys every family continues to have children until they have a boy. If they have a girl, they have another child. If they have a boy, they stop. What is the proportion of boys to girls in the country?

2. Design an evacuation plan for San Francisco.

3. You have eight balls all of the same size. Seven of them weigh the same, and one of them weighs slightly more. How can you find the ball that is heavier by using a balance and only two weighings?

4. How many times a day do a clock's hands overlap?

5. Explain a database in three sentences to your eight-year-old nephew.

Give up? Copy and paste the question into Google. Where else?