Can Google boss Eric Schmidt answer his company’s mind-boggling interview questions?

The boss of Alphabet admitted he was baffled by pirate ship question. — Reuters pic
The boss of Alphabet admitted he was baffled by pirate ship question. — Reuters pic

LOS ANGELES, Nov 30 — Google earned a notorious reputation for their fiendishly difficult and somewhat bizarre interview questions, which have since been abandoned.

Now Eric Schmidt, executive chairman of Alphabet, Google’s parent company, has admitted that even he would struggle to answer the brainteasers once put to Google interviewees.

According to Quartz, Schmidt was asked one such question involving a pirate ship and a chest of gold at a talk this month at floating entrepreneurial conference, Summit at Sea.

The question was:

“You’re the captain of a pirate ship and you find a chest of gold. Your crew gets to vote on how the gold is divided up. If fewer than half of the pirates agree with you, you die. How do you recommend apportioning the gold in such a way that you get a good share of the booty but still survive.”

To the amusement of all present, Schmidt immediately began stalling for time (“Let’s do the math…if half die. No, if I die… No, if they don’t like me, I die”), before finally conceding, “This is, like, a really bad question.”

Schmidt, however, managed to come up with a half-decent solution, the website added.

“It seems to me that if more than half are happy, I survive. I propose, that we give 49 per cent of the pirates stock in internet companies, and 51 per cent get the gold,” he suggested.

In case you were wondering, the solution is to share 51 per cent of the treasure.

Google phased out the practice of asking the brainteasers after realising that they didn’t really reveal whether the candidate could do the job in question. 

In the past, a Google executive described them as “a complete waste of time.”

Other questions that have gone down in infamy include: “How many golf balls can fit in a school bus?” “A man pushed his car to a hotel and lost his fortune. What happened?” and “Explain the significance of ‘dead beef’.”

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