A man pushed his car into a hotel and lost his fortune. What happened?
There are likely many scenarios you could think of here, but don’t work too hard. Instead, revert back to family game night to realize that the man landed on Boardwalk.
Though abstract, the question refers to Monopoly, and the man with the car piece landed on a spot with a hotel that he couldn’t pay for. Ouch.
How many piano tuners are there in the entire world?
Would you walk out of the interview if asked this question?
An example of a traditional Fermi problem (not unrelated to the Fermi paradox about intelligent life in the universe), this question actually demands some logic, and maybe even—*gulp*—some math.
The easy answer requires logic to come up with a series of estimates. How long does it take to tune a piano? How many hours a week does a piano tuner work? How often do pianos need to be tuned? You don’t need real numbers here so much as good numerical reasoning.
The traditional Fermi problem asks how many piano tuners there are in Chicago, rather than the world. In this case, you would estimate the number of pianos in Chicago based on population, the number of times they need to be tuned, and the number of hours tuners work in order to come up with an estimate.
By the time you solve this, however, you could have already joined me in the bar down the street from Google to drink away the embarrassment of a failed interview . Choose wisely.
How much should you charge to wash all the windows in Seattle?
Before you start freaking out because you’ve never been to Seattle and how could you possibly begin to estimate how many windows there are and how much window cleaners charge in the first place, take a deep breath and take a step back from the problem.
Instead, think outside the box and just come up with an hourly rate that sounds fair to you, say, $10/ hour.