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How Would You Move Mount Fuji? - A Book Summary

This article is based on the following book:
How Would You Move Mount Fuji?
"How the World’s Smartest Companies Select the Most
Creative Thinkers"
By William Poundstone
Published by Little, Brown and Company, 2004
ISBN 0-316-77849-4
276 pages

Nowadays, job applicants are no longer surprised
when they are asked the question: “Why are manhole
covers round instead of square?” during a job
interview. Puzzle-interviews have been emulated by
numerous fortune 500 companies from Microsoft.
Questions such as the above seek to separate the
most creative thinkers from the merely talented.

Logic puzzles, riddles, hypothetical questions and
trick questions have
long been used in computer-industry interviews.
These are known as “impossible questions” and are
believed to measure the intelligence, resourcefulness
or “outside-the-box thinking” needed to survive in
today’s very competitive business environment.

Today, these impossible questions are also being used,
not just in computer-industry interviews, but in almost
every line of business such as law firms, banks,
consulting firms, insurance companies, the media and
the armed forces.

The strangest thing about these impossible questions
is that no one knows the answer – not even the person
who is asking. Still, people are being hired or not
hired based on how well they answer the questions.

With the use of puzzles in the hiring process, companies
try to weed out those who think on their feet and those
who do not. All that matters is logic, imagination and problem-solving ability.

Puzzle interviews does more than test an individual’s
I.Q. It is said to measure bandwidth, inventiveness,
creative problem-solving ability and outside-the-box thinking. Companies who use logic puzzles believe
that they area better indicator of workplace success than other intelligence tests.

What happens when you are faced with a puzzle interview?
You can use some of the below tips and techniques to
outsmart the interviewer:

1. First decide what kind of answer is expected (monologue
or dialogue). Logic puzzles usually calls for a monologue. Design answers have single answers. Good answers show awareness that trace-offs exist.

2. Whatever you think of first is wrong. With puzzles
and riddles, the first obvious answer that pops into mind
is not usually the right answer.

3. Forget you ever learned calculus.

4. Big complicated questions usually have simple answers.

5. Simple questions often demand complicated answers.

6. “Perfectly logical beings” are not like you and me.

7. When you hit a brick wall, try to list the assumptions
you are making. See what happens when you reject each of these assumptions in succession.

8. When crucial information is missing in a logic puzzle,
lay out the possible scenarios. You’ll almost always
find that you don’t need the missing information to
solve the problem.

9. Where possible, give a good answer that the interviewer has never heard before.

About the Author:

William Poundstone is the author of nine books, including Carl Sagan: A Life in the Cosmos, Prisoner's Dilemma, Labyrinths of Reason, and the popular Big Secrets series, which inspired two television network specials. He has written for Esquire, Harper's, The Economist, and the
New York Times Book Review, and his science writing has
been nominated twice for the Pulitzer Prize. He lives
in Los Angeles.

By: Regine P. Azurin

Regine Azurin is the President of, a company that provides business book summaries of the latest bestsellers for busy executives and entrepreneurs.

"A Lot Of Great Books....Too Little Time To Read"

Free Book Summaries Of Latest Bestsellers for Busy Executives and Entrepreneurs


BusinessSummaries is a service.

(c) Copyright 2001-2005, -

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