Interview Question To Test A Candidate

Here’s a quick quiz to get your (mental) hamster working…

I have used mini tests (quizzes) like this math quiz for years in Interviews… You can find thousands of them online, especially on

Go ahead and have a look, try to solve it and then come back so I can explain WHAT you are looking for to determine a person’s skill, ability AND personality.

  • First, print it out on a blank piece of paper. Remove the 99.9% can’t solve this… That creates MORE pressure and interview candidates are already nervous.
  • Explain you’d like him/her to solve this simple quiz.
  • Hand them a pen with the paper.
  • Watch for their resistance – the more resistance, the less competent, capable or confident they are. Self-perception (self-esteem) is hard to gauge, this should reveal any extreme conditions.
  • Gauge how much hesitation there is in starting…
  • Once he/she starts, look at what he’s doing, writing to see if there is a PROCESS being used.
  • There are two popular answers, 160 (wrong) and 200 (correct).
    • 160 is a common error whereas anything else would be a “fail” in my opinion.
  • How quickly does he/she solve it?
  • Did he/she CHECK her PROCESS and result before declaring the final answer?
  • Did he/she talk during the quiz?
  • If the person is confident, you can create distraction by talking to another interviewer while the candidate is trying to focus, to further evaluate their ability to concentrate.

I recently interviewed 3 candidates and this simple 5-minute exercise eliminated one of the top 3 short list candidates who CLAIMED she was detailed oriented and was accurate with her work. She RUSHED, didn’t check her work and made a transcription error. Very sloppy.




1 Response to “Interview Question To Test A Candidate”

  • This is a really good idea. We do a number of problem solving exercises as part of our recruitment process. We are an engineering team and our role is to design other people’s products for them. So we cover a wide range of technologies and being a good problem solver is essential.

    Some examples of our current projects might help to understand why this is the case:
    – a pet feeder
    – a power factor correction controller
    – a trailer levelling device
    – motor bike tail lights
    – nurse call system
    – key management system
    – compactor full alert system
    – remote water metering (IoT device and service)
    – bulk water filling station for trucks
    – a mobile phone (yes, and it will be made in Mitcham)
    – … and about 10 more

    So we have to be flexible, efficient, good technically and collaborative.

    So when we interview people, I’m looking for not just the technical capability to do this class of work, but also the attitudes, values and mindset to do it in a way that can fit in with the rest of the team and deliver outstanding value to our clients.

    So tests like this can really help.

    Ray Keefe
    Successful Endeavours Pty Ltd
    Engineering new Electronics Products for Australian Electronics Manufacturers
    2015 iAwards Merit Award
    2013 Winner – MSE Small Business Award
    2010 Winner – Casey Business of the Year
    Award Winning Electronics Design and Embedded Software Development
    Electronics Design and Embedded Software Development

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