Prepping for a Do-or-Die Job Interview

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Warm Up with Some Brain Teasers

Tech companies are famous for asking candidates to answer odd questions, although the practice has reportedly ebbed in the past few years. Microsoft interviewers once asked prospective engineers why manhole covers were round, and Google tossed complicated puzzles at anyone who wanted to work there; executives from both those companies now frame brainteasers as useless.

That doesn’t mean all tech firms have stopped asking candidates to perform some mental gymnastics. SpaceX CEO Elon Musk reportedly tosses a geography-related riddle at prospective engineers, for example, while software-development shops are known for asking engineers to solve complicated programming issues.

Before your interview, take an hour or two to work through some brainteasers and puzzles. You should also prepare yourself to deal with a problem you can’t solve (hint: always take a shot at a solution, and show all your work).

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