Potential employers are notorious for asking curveball questions to make sure that you're the best for the job. There have been some screwy questions of the years. And Tech companies, such as Google and Microsoft, have been known for being the worst at it. But there's one question that takes the cake.
One of Microsoft's job interview questions was recently revealed on the Q&A website Quora. And the interview question is so uncomfortably hard that it's been getting a lot of attention. Of course, some of us would argue that any question pertaining to math is uncomfortably hard.
The question, "What is the toughest question ever asked in any interview?" was posted on Quora. User Prashant Bagdia responded with the ultimate answer. He told the story of his friend who went into interview at Microsoft.
Bagdia says that his friend had a campus placement interview with the tech company. During the interview he was asked, "A right triangle has a hypotenuse equal to 10 and an altitude to the hypotenuse equal to 6. Find the area of the triangle."
According to Bagda, "My friend started thinking 'Why would a software company ask a geometry question and that too such a trivial one! Maybe it is a trick question!? Maybe it isn't a trick question and he just wants me to think otherwise so that I would screw up even this paltry question!?'"
Needless to say, the friend did not get the job at Microsoft. Was it not being able to solve the problem or was it his attitude about not being able to solve the problem? But there's more to the story...
On the same Quora entry, Bagdia provides the solution to the problem. "It turns out that the maximum length of the altitude to hypotenuse in the above triangle can only be 5 and not 6, so its maximal area would be 25."
Bagdia continues. "The angle opposite the hypotenuse must be a right angle of 90 degrees. This means the two sides of the triangle must subtend a 180 degree angle in a circle. The hypotenuse must be the diameter of a circle, and the third point can be any point on the circle (except the endpoints of the hypotenuse)."
"The vertical distance from the third point to the hypotenuse is the altitude to the hypotenuse. This is largest when the third point is at the top or bottom of the circle, and the vertical distance is equal to the radius of the circle (half the length of the hypotenuse, which is the diameter of the circle)," continues Bagdia.
"I would say it was one of the most difficult questions to answer because the hard question was very well disguised as a trivial question. And although it seemed quite strange that a software giant like Microsoft asked a geometry question, it wasn't strange at all. The real motive could have been to check whether the candidate has good analytical skills and levelheadedness, both of which are quite essential in the programming world," said Bagdia.