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How Would You Move Mount Fuji? Microsoft's Cult of the Puzzle--How the World's Smartest Companies Select the Most Creative Thinkers
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How Would You Move Mount Fuji? Microsoft's Cult of the Puzzle--How the World's Smartest Companies Select the Most Creative Thinkers

3.58  ·  Rating details ·  1,691 ratings  ·  139 reviews
From Wall Street to Silicon Valley, employers are using tough and tricky questions to gauge job candidates' intelligence, imagination, and problem-solving ability -- qualities needed to survive in today's hypercompetitive global marketplace. For the first time, William Poundstone reveals the toughest questions used at Microsoft and other Fortune 500 companies -- and suppli ...more
Paperback, 288 pages
Published April 2nd 2004 by Little, Brown and Company (first published January 1st 2003)
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Start your review of How Would You Move Mount Fuji? Microsoft's Cult of the Puzzle--How the World's Smartest Companies Select the Most Creative Thinkers
Jul 11, 2015 rated it liked it
First up, notice the original year of publication. It's 2004. So, while the book talks about Microsoft being the only company using puzzles, explaining the pros and cons of doing so, and reasoning out when and how to use puzzles, this has now become common usage to the extent that most companies have even passed it by. To that extent, the book does become a bit dated.

The book starts with a quick overview of how puzzles started off as a way to test intelligence in interviews during the initial da
Himanshu Modi
Jul 16, 2013 rated it really liked it
Catchy title, ain’t it? Well the title is one reason I did pick up to see what the book is about… I know… I know… you are not supposed to judge a book by its cover… or the title for that matter. But that’s not what I am doing. Just saying that the title piqued my interest. Plus, there is also “How the world’s smartest companies select the most creative thinkers” as a subtitle on the cover, with Microsoft being referred to as a smart company (which I endorse whole heartedly, not getting into the ...more
Jan 08, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Had never exactly intended on reading this book. Discovered it accidentally on my laptop while I was searching for another document with a different title. A very happy accident!

Poundstone not only discusses the interview processes of the Silicon Valley (especially Microsoft), he also shares the entire history of how the IQ tests came about and interestingly how the IQ tests have a racist connotation. The most amusing chapter is where Poundstone is offering advice to interviewers, where it's cl
Farnoosh Brock
Apr 13, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: business-spirit
I read this book when I was interviewing with Google in 2007. I must say that while none of the questions appears in my Google interview (oh darn ;) JUST kidding), that it helped me prepare for that mindset of conversation.

If you are reading the book for an interview in a time crunch, read Chapter 8 first. Poundstone discusses the generic puzzle solving technique and the mental preparation process you should follow after you hear or read the question. It worked well as I applied it to several pu
Mar 28, 2008 rated it it was ok
Microsoft is not the world's smartest company and employs not the most creative thinkers. It's almost impossible for that to be the case given their hiring practices lionized in this book:

If employees of the company evaluate the applicants suitability for the job without an external rubric then a hired applicant will most likely be only as intelligent and/or creative as the general employee base. Non-creative people tend to have trouble finding value in creative thoughts and smarty-pants are onl
Everson Luis de Campos Moura
Highlights some flaws in the hiring process of Microsoft and other tech giants.

The book is interesting, but is not that useful. Indeed, you can find most of the Microsoft's questions and answers for free in the Web. Just google it. Anyway, I gave it four stars because the author makes some good points about the problems in the hiring process most companies use to try to choose the best people.
Jan 11, 2010 rated it liked it
Interesting "expose" on the hiring practices and interview questions of Microsoft. It doesn't convince me that this particular style is any more or less effective than most, but it certainly is an interesting and non-standard way to do so.

It does reinforce that MS self-selects for left-brained, logically oriented individuals. Overall, I recommend.
Ed Erwin
Sep 17, 2016 rated it liked it
Shelves: nonfiction
I enjoyed thinking about many of the puzzles in the book, but am very glad I've never had to go through a high-stress interview based around puzzles.
Nov 11, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Fun logic puzzles. Focused on strange interview techniques that are apparently more common for engineering jobs, but a fun read and great puzzles.
Mirek Kukla
May 02, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: math-logic
Poundstone (awesome name) is a accessible writer, and this book is full of awesome advice for both interviewers and interviewees. If you're either hiring or applying for a job at a startup - or even anywhere in software industry - this book is an a must-read. If not, it's still a treat. It's chock-full full of awesome puzzle solving advice, and presents a number of rather clever puzzles. The advice given here - on interviewing and critical thinking - is concrete and actionable. While some sectio ...more
Jan 12, 2020 rated it it was ok
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Moss 慈映夢図
Feb 18, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I'm not sure how practical this book will be for everyone especially now that it's almost a couple decades since its publication, but this was a really fun read. Not really a conventional book since it centers around logic and lateral thinking puzzles but as a teacher I did get a chance to use some of these questions in a fake interview setting and got some incredibly creative and interesting answers. Can't really complain and I'll certainly be coming back to it from time to time. 5 stars.
Mar 21, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Even though written 15 years back this book has some mind bending puzzles that are devious. That Microsoft uses these regularly for hiring candidates is one of the reasons for their being ahead till date. Smart people who can also get things done. If not for anything, these puzzles are a joy to try and solve.
Dana Robinson
Jul 31, 2017 rated it it was amazing
A great book about puzzle questions and how they can be used during the interview process. You should especially read this book if you are excited about using puzzle questions when you do your own hiring since they are wildly overused.
Sean Conner
Jan 30, 2020 rated it it was amazing
A really really fun puzzle book, I did this for preparation for a product manager interview at Google... it didn't really come up at all in the day long interview, but was a very fun read none the less.
Joe Canas
Aug 20, 2017 rated it really liked it
4.5 stars
Jul 08, 2018 rated it it was ok
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Liuyang Li
Aug 16, 2018 rated it liked it
The book is date now, but it is great to learn the origin of the puzzles and the origin of puzzle interviews. Many of the new deprecated problems are still interesting.
Feb 23, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: science
This would have helped you pass Microsoft interviews in 2003.
Nov 08, 2019 rated it liked it
Funny book on the culture of puzzle interviews. I find it funny to read the answers and trace back the logic. Not a big fan of these interview questions myself, but they are nice to read.
Dec 19, 2019 rated it really liked it
Quite dated, but interesting read.
Randall Bruce
Jan 05, 2020 rated it liked it
A bit dated but had some nice logic puzzles to ponder
Anna Shulman
a bit outdated, but full of interesting puzzles
Mar 04, 2018 rated it really liked it
Very good book, a must to read before an interview in a software field. Includes many stories and dissects numerous algorithmic and logical puzzles.
Oct 10, 2007 rated it really liked it
From a blog review I wrote in 2005:
I just finished How Would You Move Mount Fuji? - Microsoft's Cult of the Puzzle by William Poundstone. It's about Microsoft's (and other companys') interview testing where they throw 'impossible' puzzles at applicants. I checked it out just to see if I could answer the puzzles (I'll give you an example question and its answer later.) I have to confess I couldn't figure them all out.

There's more to the book than just the puzzles, however. Poundstone discusses t
Oct 27, 2011 rated it liked it
Recommends it for: fans of business lit and Martin Gardner
Shelves: social-science
"... studies suggest that the standard job interview is a pretense in which both interviewer and interviewee are equally and mutually duped. The interviewer has made up her mind by the time the interviewee has settled into a chair. Maybe the decision is based on looks, body language, or the 'cut of your jib.' What's certain is that it's not based on anything happening inside the job candidate's head. The questions and answers that follow are a sham, a way of convincing both that some rational ba
Kelly  Schuknecht
Mar 17, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: business
How Would You Move Mount Fuji? was published in 2004 so it may not be as relevant now as it was then for someone trying to get an inside scoop on Microsoft's interview process. I would imagine it would still be helpful, though, for someone interviewing at Microsoft (or Google or a similar company) to understand how the interview process might go. No one knows the exact questions they will be asked during an interview, and half the battle seems to be getting your head in the right mindset so you ...more
Sep 13, 2016 rated it liked it
The title is not exactly accurate- The book is more of a walkthrough of most popular interview questions asked in many tech interviews. The puzzles are interesting, the writing is chatty but when Poundstone sacrifices those attributes for some deep, insightful advice does the the book falter. If anything, the book is a great starting place for those interested in lateral thinking and recreational math and puzzles to venture on a more fulfilling journey on their own.
Jan 02, 2011 rated it it was ok
This book could have easily been half as long. There are a lot of repetitive passages that discuss the use of puzzles and IQ tests in broadstrokes, but rarely feature specific examples, statistics, or meaningful insights about the process. There are no cases studies or experiments about whether this works, just a lot of secondhand info. If you're looking for a primer on how to interview at Microsoft, this is a useful and quick read, although I'd recommend just skimming for the meatier bits and j ...more
Emily Leathers
Jul 15, 2011 rated it liked it
An interesting look into some of these puzzles and interview tactics, but I think many of them go way beyond what's reasonable - asking a cerebral question about Russian Roulette is very different from acting it out to intentionally put the candidate under stress.

We use brainteaser and develop-a-solution-then-implement-it questions at my startup for our software engineering interviews, but we try to keep the interview room low-stress and we use these questions because want to see how how a candi
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William Poundstone is the author of more than ten non-fiction books, including 'Fortune's Formula', which was the Amazon Editors' Pick for #1 non-fiction book of 2005. Poundstone has written for The New York Times, Psychology Today, Esquire, Harpers, The Economist, and Harvard Business Review. He has appeared on the Today Show, The David Letterman Show and hundreds of radio talk-shows throughout t ...more

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