Google is famous for their creative interviewing techniques that include asking questions like “How many golf balls could fit inside a school bus” or “how much would you charge to wash the windows of every office building in Seattle, WA”.
The purpose of asking questions like these is obviously to evaluate the interviewee’s analytic reasoning skills, but that’s about all they test. Consider this question I artfully crafted:
Imagine today you were charged with the task of walking on the moon sometime in the next 20 years, and you had sufficient motivation for doing everything in your power to accomplish it (i.e. the fate of humanity depended on you getting to the moon… yes insert your own favorite overly dramatic cliche here). The point is you have 20 years to walk on the moon and will sacrifice anything and everything to make it happen. Do you think you could do it?
Now it is important to phrase the question this way – not “how do you do it” but “do you think you could do it”. The person’s initial reaction to this question is perhaps the most important part. Do they laugh, shrug it off, or dismiss it as impossible? Then they’re not the kind of person I want to work with. In business it’s never a matter of “if,” it’s simply a matter of “how.” And quite frankly, walking on the moon by 2030 is not beyond the realm of possibilities today.
Moving on to the explanation, in answering how they would reach the moon the interviewee does go through many of the same logical steps that he or she would in answering the stereotypical Google questions but again, with this question the responses are more revealing because imagining a way to the moon requires more creativity than counting golf balls in a bus does.
Does the interviewee take the traditional route and attempt to join NASA? Work for Richard Branson and hope for the opportunity to piggyback the crazy Brit? Join the private sector and create his or her own space program? Forge an alliance with a different country’s space exploration team? Continue at her current job, try to make a ton of money and pray in 20 years technology will have advanced to the extent where it’s possible to buy a ticket to the moon?
These are all great answers (mainly because I thought of them) but each one reveales a different thinking pattern as well as varrying degrees of preference for or tolerance of risk, hard work, luck, discipline, natural abilities, and self-sacrifice.
Try it. I personally guarantee success