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Good or Bad: The Interview Cheat Sheet

It goes without saying that preparing for your job interview will only help you when it’s game time. But when it comes to preparing, are there actually tactics that could hurt you?

Let’s take a look at a Google job interview. In January, Businessweek posted an interview preparation cheat sheet with questions from actual Google interviews. These questions were unique and even somewhat preposterous:

  1. You’ve got a stack of pennies as high as the Empire State Building. Can you fit all of the pennies into one room?
  2. A man pushed his car to a hotel and lost his fortune. What happened?

If you’re stumped when it comes to these questions, you’re not alone. The answers take some creativity and a lot of quick wit. And not cliched wit. Check out these answers, as stated by Businessweek:

  1. If the Empire State Building is 100 floors, you need to break the stack up into one hundred shorter, floor-to-ceiling stacks. Then, lay 10 rows of 10 pennies on the floor.
  2. The man was playing Monopoly.

So you see that when it comes to questions such as these, there really is no way to prepare. Unless, of course, you buy a book of riddles and train your mind to think in that way — which if your dream job is at Google, it might not be such a bad idea. Realistically, though, there is no cheat sheet for these out-of-the-box questions.

However, it’s not a bad idea to have a cheat sheet in general. Developing concise, noteworthy answers to standard interview questions is great interview preparation. Writing these down and studying them will ensure that you have the answers and the delivery when you need them.

Just think about it. What is the most difficult, yet commonly asked, job interview question: Tell me a little about yourself. It should be the easiest question; but when you’re on the spot during your job interview, it can be a little daunting. However, having this answer on your cheat sheet and ingrained in your memory will save you some embarrassment and your chances of landing the job.

Also, use your cheat sheet for questions you would like to ask in the job interview. This will take a little research of the company on your part, which you should be doing anyway. Asking questions will show interest, knowledge and preparation on your part. And having these questions on your cheat sheet will prevent that awkward silence when the interviewer turns the tables on you.

So is it wise to invest your interview preparation on solving riddles? Probably not. But it is a smart bet to create a cheat sheet with real answers to real questions. You never know — it could lead to a real job.

Have you ever brought a “cheat sheet” to an interview? Tell us about it below.

IMAGE: Courtesy of Flickr by emdot

Written by

Kathryn is a freelance writer currently living in Chicago, Illinois. She holds a B.A. in English Writing from DePauw University and has five years experience writing for major job search and higher education websites. When she's not writing for the web, Kathryn is hanging out with her new baby girl, traveling, cooking, reading and running. She believes that the perfect job is out there for everyone and hopes to help Spark Hire job seekers discover their career passion and pursue it.

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