Not working at Goldman anytime soon

I came across this on my morning scan of news/thoughts/blogs, 23 awkward questions you must answer to work at Goldman Sachs

While most of these are the usual form of disrespectful drivel that only serve to reduce the self-respect of the candidate (if you are interested on more on this topic, I love reading Liz Ryan’s views on the Human Workplace).

However, what got me interested in writing was the following question:

“Suppose you had eight identical balls. One of them is slightly heavier and you are given a balance scale. What’s the fewest number of times you have to use the scale to find the heavier ball?”

This would be the point that I would immediately end my candidacy. I wouldn’t walk out, I would just point out the simple but clear stupidity of the question. That is, if the balls are identical, one of them can’t be heavier.

It’s about the details

While I understand what they are looking for (critical reasoning), it doesn’t excuse a lack of attention to detail. It also provides an unclear response. Are they looking for the thought process or picking up that they are asking an impossible question.

Whatever the result, I would feel obliged to point out the error of the interviewer and probably lose any chance of getting the job. Hence, my assertion that I ain’t working their anytime soon.


The answer is 3: four on each scale to start with, the heavier four are split into two groups of two, the heavier two split for a final weigh.

However, in reality, of all the critical reasoning questions you can ask, surely one that requires a little more thought should be used …

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