How many ping-pong balls would it take to fill a 747?

June 11, 2014

ping-pongThere has been much in the press recently about weird and wonderful interview questions. The ping-pong ball dilemma being one of the best known. Incidentally if you want to know the answer it’s a remarkable 31 Million. However, if you want to win the gold star you also need to observe that the balls will all have a weight, and if the cabin and hold are filled completely, this will add up to a considerable tonnage. 83 Tonnes! The plane wouldn’t be able to take off. Okay, so now your brain is up to speed, here’s another:

‘You’re on a barge floating in a closed lock in a canal. The barge is full of coal. If you empty all the coal overboard into the water, does the water level on the side of the lock go up or down?’ Hmm.

Taller on the outside than the inside

November 24, 2013

WWIt seems like there is some truth in the expression ‘fake it until you make it’. Really! Could standing like Superman or Wonder Woman actually make you feel and look more powerful? The answer appears to be yes. Expansive, open body postures increase testosterone, decrease stress and make people feel more in control. And here’s the interesting bit, in a selection situation, especially when candidates have to give presentations, holding a more ‘powerful’ posture increases the chances of getting hired by 20%. So strike a pose before going in to an interview (it would be a bit weird if you struck up your Superman or Wonder Woman position when you were actually in the room), and stand tall when delivering a presentation. It could make a big difference.

More info:

Wonder Woman. Created by a psychologist! Have a look at this:

Ten ways to get people to change

October 8, 2012

How do you get leaders, employees, customers – and even yourself – to change behaviours?  Executives can change strategy, products and processes until they’re blue in the face, but real change doesn’t take hold until people actually change what they do. Check out the HBR blog for some useful suggestions:

Forget interviews: hire everyone

August 1, 2012

Interviews are a poor indicator of success. Why not abandon this expensive, old-fashioned practice and just hire the next person who walks in the door? Now there’s a thought. Read Margaret Heffernan’s thought provoking Inc. article:

Thought patterns of success

May 1, 2012

“When you go from feeling energized, excited and in control of your work to feeling an overwhelming compulsion to achieve and produce, you’ve tipped from helpful harmonious passion into harmful obsessive passion.” Read this interesting HBR article on how to remedy the situation from Elizabeth Grace Saunders:

A dating agency for job hunters!

February 20, 2012

Looking for a job on the web is set to get more like using a dating site as reliable psychometrics are used to sift candidates… Keep an eye on this stuff as it’s a growing trend! And my thanks to Angus McDonald for drawing my intention to this article:

The first 90 days

November 5, 2011

I was recently reading The Interview Question You Should Always Expect (HBR Blog), which as the title suggests is written from the perspective of the job candidate, and it reminded me that it’s also the killer question for any interviewer. Afterall it’s not where the candidate has come from that makes the difference, it’s what they’re planning to do next… Not sure what I’m talking about? Read the HBR article.

How do you weigh an elephant without using a weighing machine?

May 26, 2011

Isn’t it refreshing to know that people are still being asked ridiculous interview questions. Follow this link to find some real crackers:

And a couple of my personal favourites: ‘When was the last time you cried?’ and ‘Do you prefer cats or dogs?’ In the first one you are damned if you do and damned if you don’t. Admit to blubbing on a regular basis and you’ll be labelled as wet and over-sensitive, and of course if you don’t cry at all you’re just  a hard-nosed and uncaring sort of person. Cats or dogs? Well, it depends on which the interviewer prefers. Try and spot the pet hairs on his/her clothing and see if that provides a clue. Joking apart, I thought we had got over all this stuff – interview questions should relate directly, unambiguously and fairly to the job in question.

Picture credit: Tom Curtis/

How many successful entrepreneurs would fail an IQ test?

April 2, 2011

If you would like to be part of some research to find out, follow this link. Online survey designed by Tomas Chamorro-Premuzic of Goldsmiths College, University of London.

Interesting footnote: Tomas was the resident psychologist on Big Brother!

Google job mania

February 4, 2011

You think you’ve got problems! Google recently received 75,000 job applications in a single week. OK, they reckon to have 6000 vacancies coming up, but that’s still heck of a number. Why the recruitment drive? They’ve decided to take on both Facebook and Apple. Not sure who my money would be on, but I’m surprised they didn’t apply their considerable brain power to designing a better recruitment process. This one was surely crying out for rigorous ‘self-selection’, right at the start.

Check out this Bloomberg article.


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