How Would You Move Mount Fuji? - AchieveMax® Top Ten Book Review
For a number of reasons, today's hiring managers from Wall Street to the Silicon Valley are totally restructuring their approach to interviewing job prospects. Few will admit it has anything to do with the fact that our litigious society makes it very difficult to ask almost any personal question of today's job applicant. The majority of those interviewing today don't even bother checking references because they know anyone they call will provide little or no information on the employee in question for fear of legal retribution. Again, few will admit these facts for obvious reasons. However, for these and other motives including a hypercompetitive global marketplace, a hot new trend in hiring is emerging. "Puzzle interviews" using tough and tricky questions to gauge job candidates' intelligence, imagination, and problem-solving ability, are becoming the norm in many companies.
How Would You Move Mount Fuji?: Microsoft's Cult of the Puzzle - How the World's Smartest Company Selects the Most Creative Thinkers is a study of corporate hiring, an assessment of IQ testing's value, a history of interviewing and a puzzle book. The author, William Poundstone, is a science writer who explains the thinking behind this kind of interviewing. In a straightforward manner, the author describes the roots of logic questions in interviews, drawing on the history of IQ testing in hiring interviews, psychological studies and interviews with Microsoft ex-interviewers and interviewees. He certainly makes a strong case for eliminating standard questions like "What are your strengths and weaknesses?" and replacing them with logic puzzles.
For years, Microsoft's interview process has included a notoriously grueling sequence of brain-busting questions that separate the most creative thinkers from the merely brilliant. Anyone who's interviewed for a job at Microsoft is intimately familiar with questions like the one in this book's title (How would you move Mount Fuji?) They've probably also pondered such problems as:
- Why are manhole covers round?
- How do they make M&Ms?
- What does all the ice in a hockey rink weigh?
- How many piano tuners are there in the world?
Questions like these, which test problem-solving abilities, not specific competencies, are commonplace during job interviews at Microsoft and the many other firms who have adapted this unique approach.
Basically, this book is separated into two parts: The first discusses the history of puzzles and their intellectual and academic standing. This section starts off by narrating the origin of puzzle-solving as a criterion for selecting people; then, it talks about how and why many companies use them in interviews. Mr. Poundstone talks about the general approaches to solving puzzles, and then closes on a note for employers on how to design puzzles that are useful.
The second part of the book is strict puzzle solving. The book has plenty of puzzles scattered through it and two chapters devoted solely to listing puzzles. The author goes on to discuss the puzzles he has listed and suggests thought processes about how to solve them. This exposition is more interesting than it sounds. Mr. Poundstone not only explains his answers thoroughly, but also uncovers many layers of thinking that show the complexity and beauty of the art of solving puzzles.
Almost half of the book is devoted to an "answer" section, where Poundstone gives possible solutions to the brainteasers. Although it lacks a specific focus, this is a fun, revealing take on an unusual subject.
This book will give interviewers insights into what kind of questions to ask, and why. You should probably read this book if you fall into one of the categories below:Prospective interviewees for High Tech, consulting or financial services companies. It won't give you all the answers to memorize, but it will let you in on the puzzle genre and some of its 'rules.'
Interviewers/HR - If you are looking to employ puzzle-type questions to hire creative employees, this will give you some insights into what questions to use and why. There are probably better books on the intricacies of interviewing, but this will give you the background needed to use puzzles in the interview process (if you decide that's what you need.)
People interested in problem solving, puzzles and creativity. This covers a lot of ground in these areas and it gives you a few references for further reading.
More than 100 business book reviews written by Harry K. Jones are available at www.AchieveMax.com/books/index.htm">http://www.AchieveMax.com/books/.
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www.AchieveMax.com/motivational-speaker-harry.htm">Harry K. Jones is a professional speaker and consultant for AchieveMax®, Inc., a firm specializing in custom-designed keynote presentations, seminars, and consulting services. Harry has made presentations ranging from leadership to employee retention and time management to stress management for a number of industries, including education, financial, government, healthcare, hospitality, and manufacturing. He can be reached at 800-886-2MAX or by visiting www.AchieveMax.com">http://www.AchieveMax.com.
Clive King, who has died aged 94, was the author of several children's books and is best known for Stig of the Dump, the original and imaginative fantasy story of the friendship between Barney, a boy of the modern era, with Stig, a boy from long, long ago who lives in a nearby chalk pit in a home created from things he can creatively and skilfully repurpose from waste, including a chimney from tin cans and windows from glass bottles....
Films based on books might have the intolerable disadvantage of people smugly claiming "the book is so much better", but they also result in a huge boost at the box office.
According to new research from the Publishers Association, films based on books take 44% more at the box office in the UK and 53% more worldwide than original screenplays.
..."In short, published material is the basis of 52% of top UK films in the last 10 years, and accounts for an even higher share of revenue from these leading performers, at 61% of UK box office gross and 65% of worldwide gross," the report reads.
The New York Times has a rare interview with Anne Tyler to coincide with the publication of her latest novel, Clock Dance. Tyler rarely does interviews because she dislikes the way they make her feel the next morning. "I'll go upstairs to my writing room to do my regular stint of work and I'll probably hear myself blathering on about writing and I won't do a very good job that day. I always say that the way you write a novel is for the first 83 drafts you pretend that nobody is ever, ever going to read it."
The good news for fans is that Tyler has no plans to retire: "What happens is six months go by after I finish a book," she said "and I start to go out of my mind. I have no hobbies, I don't garden, I hate travel. The impetus is not inspiration, just a feeling that I better do this. There's something addictive about leading another life at the same time you're living your own." She paused and added: "If you think about it, it's a very strange way to make a living."
The New York Times reports on the changing face of the romance novel genre:
...The landscape is slowly starting to change, as more diverse writers break into the genre, and publishers take chances on love stories that reflect a broader range of experiences and don't always fit the stereotypical girl-meets-boy mold. Forever Yours, an imprint at Grand Central, publishes Karelia Stetz-Waters, who writes romances about lesbian couples. Uzma Jalaluddin's debut novel, Ayesha at Last, takes place in a close-knit immigrant Muslim community in Canada, and features an outspoken Muslim heroine who falls for a more conservative Muslim man, a Darcy to her Lizzie Bennett...
...."Readers want books that reflect the world they live in, and they won't settle for a book about a small town where every single person is white," said Leah Koch, co-owner of the romance bookstore the Ripped Bodice in Culver City, Calif. Last year, six of her store's top 10 best-selling novels were written by authors of color, Ms. Koch said.
Michael Ondaatje's The English Patient (Bloomsbury), the story of an injured, anonymous English WWII pilot and his Italian nurse, has been named the winner of the Golden Man Booker Prize, awarded to the best work of fiction previously awarded the Man Booker Prize over the last 50 years.
In a brief statement released late Tuesday afternoon, Barnes & Noble said CEO Demos Parneros (who had been named CEO in April 2017) had been terminated for "violations of the Company's policies." While not saying what policies Parneros violated, B&N said his termination "is not due to any disagreement with the Company regarding its financial reporting, policies, or practices or any potential fraud relating thereto." In addition to being fired immediately, Parneros will not receive any severance, B&N said. B&N said Parneros's removal was undertaken by its board of directors, who were advised by the law firm Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison LLP.
In his first interview since being accused of inappropriate behavior with women, celebrated novelist Junot Díaz adamantly denied the allegations, including a claim he once "forcibly kissed" writer Zinzi Clemmons.
Díaz, who was awarded the 2008 Pulitzer Prize for his novel The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao, said he was "distressed," "confused," and "panicked" by the accusations, but insisted he had not bullied the women or been sexually inappropriate.
Harlan Ellison, a major figure in the New Wave of science fiction writers in the 1960s who became a legend in science fiction and fantasy circles for his award-winning stories and notoriously outspoken and combative persona, died this week 84. During his life, he wrote more than 1,700 stories, film and TV scripts. The Guardian recommends five of his best...
Donald Hall, a prolific and award-winning poet and man of letters who was widely admired for his sharp humor and painful candor about nature, mortality, baseball and the distant past, has died. He was 89.
Atlas Obscura explains the history behind the, arguably nonsensical, grammar rule about not ending a sentence with a preposition which, "all goes back to 17th-century England and a fusspot named John Dryden":
There are thousands of individual rules for proper grammatical use of any given language; mostly, these are created, and then taught, in order to maximize understanding and minimize confusion. But the English language prohibition against "preposition stranding"--ending a sentence with a preposition like with, at, or of--is not like this. It is a fantastically stupid rule that when followed often has the effect of mangling a sentence. And yet for hundreds of years, schoolchildren have been taught to create disastrously awkward sentences like "With whom did you go?"
...Born in 1631, John Dryden was the most important figure throughout the entire Restoration period of the late 17th century... Dryden twice stated an opposition to preposition stranding. In an afterword for one of his own plays, he criticized Ben Jonson for doing this, saying: "The preposition in the end of the sentence; a common fault with him, and which I have but lately observed in my own writing." Later, in a letter to a young writer who had asked for advice, he wrote: "In the correctness of the English I remember I hinted somewhat of concludding [sic] your sentences with prepositions or conjunctions sometimes, which is not elegant, as in your first sentence."
Dryden does not state why he finds this to be "not elegant." And yet somehow this completely unexplained, tiny criticism, buried in his mountain of works, lodged itself in the grammarian mind, and continued to be taught for hundreds of years later. This casual little comment would arguably be Dryden's most enduring creation.