21 October 2021

Review: How Do You Fight a Horse-Sized Duck? by William Poundstone

How Do You Fight a Horse-Sized Duck? by William Poundstone book cover
* Copy courtesy of Bloomsbury Australia *

I have a background in HR and still offer interview coaching services, so when I saw Bloomsbury were publishing a book about interview questions, I requested a review copy right away. How Do You Fight a Horse-Sized Duck? And Other Perplexing Puzzles from the Toughest Interviews in the World by William Poundstone offers a comprehensive look at the evolution of the interview, including: psychometric testing, behavioural interview questions, work sampling, personality testing, video and group interviews.

Employers always strive to employ interview techniques that are most predictive of job performance by a potential candidate, and many of the logic puzzles and brain teasers posed by companies such as Apple, Amazon and Google are an attempt to gain insight into the problem-solving abilities and creative thinking styles demonstrated by job seekers.

The author then goes on to present a whole heap of interview questions used by some well known US companies, as well as providing a working knowledge of the answers and a solid explanation of how a candidate should go about answering these types of questions.
"A hammer and a nail cost $1.10, and the hammer costs one dollar more than the nail. How much does the nail cost?" Page 111*
At times, reading How Do You Fight a Horse-Sized Duck? by William Poundstone was akin to reading a maths or statistics text book, and I expect it will be most useful to the dedicated job seeker looking for some insight and keen to prepare for any eventuality. Those readers would do well to check out another book I read on the topic this year, #EntryLevelBoss: a 9-step guide for finding a job you like (and actually getting hired to do it) by Alexa Shoen.
"For what it's worth, a 2013 study by David Comer Kidd and Emanuele Castano reported that reading literary fiction improved performance on an emotional intelligence test that included recognition of facial expressions. It's possible that reading about richly realized fictional characters primes readers to be more attuned to clues about other people's emotions." Page 107
Book lovers already know that reading every day builds vocabulary, improves comprehension, enhances brain connectivity and emotional intelligence, but it's always nice to see this recognised in other areas of science and study. From what I can tell, How Do You Fight a Horse-Sized Duck? seems to be an up to date account of the job seeker's experience in America informed by the accounts of job seekers who have applied for roles with these top tier organisations.

I suspect that here in Australia, we are yet to encounter these interview puzzlers on a regular basis, but if the US job market has taught us anything with the increasing popularity of recorded job interview videos, this will soon follow. How Do You Fight a Horse-Sized Duck? is a good read and I enjoyed putting some of these questions to my husband.

*Feel free to send me your answer and I'll let you know if you were right or not!

You can seize this book at Booktopia.

My Rating:

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