was successfully added to your cart.

Brain Teasers are one of (if not) the most exciting types of interview questions. They are widely used in many different fields from Management Consulting, on Wall Street, to even Google. These questions often require thinking in unconventional ways.

Just like for the McKinsey PST, the systematic approach is to break down the complex and the ambiguous into specific question types. What I found out is that once questions are placed into appropriate groups, even Brain Teasers can be very very predictable!

The 7 most common types of Brain Teasers:

• Illusive questions
• Visual-explanation questions
• Wording questions
• Pattern/ Trend questions
• Logical questions
• Wordplay questions
• Market-sizing and Guesstimate questions

This is not a MECE breakdown of the questions. Some questions fall into more than one categories. But for the purpose of learning, we will temporarily ignore the important concept of MECE here. Now let’s get into each of these types.

(See examples of each type in the video!)

Type No.1: Illusive questions

Brain Teasers of this type may vary in formats or context but all share one characteristic: They create illusions and draw your attention to insignificant details. Exactly how magicians do their tricks.
The key is to recognize the illusion and quickly identify the important details you overlooked at first sight

Type No.2: Visual-explanation questions

These questions are somewhat similar to “Root cause reasoning” in the McKinsey PST and “Hypothesis” questions in Case interviews. But since there are a lot of non-consulting viewers for this video, I decided to give this a non-consulting and more straight-forward name.

Visual-explanation questions often provide you with weird and “impossible” situations and your task is to think of a story that “explains” all the facts.
The key to cracking these questions is a little  creativity and imagination. Don’t be afraid to tell bold and unordinary “stories”, as long as they do explain the situation.

Type No.3: Wording questions

Brain Teasers of this type have to do with at least one word that can be interpreted into multiple meanings and usually the default interpretation in your mind (as misleadingly suggested by the context) makes the question inexplicable.
The key is to question your mind’s interpretation of every word in the question and in your thinking. Usually you will find at least one word with alternative meanings that significantly changes the whole context.

Type No.4: Pattern/ Trend questions

Brain Teasers of this type involve a series of numbers or letters with a certain pattern or trend. The questions then ask candidates to either identify the next item or to fill in a blank.

Type No.5: Logical questions

Logical questions are the least “brain-teasing” format of all. Usually there is no trick, no illusion, and no creativity associated with this type of question. You can use pure math and logical brainpower to solve these. For management consulting candidates, this is a must-solve question type.

Type No.6: Wordplay questions

These questions play with the organization, demonstration, and compositions of letters.

Type No.7: Market-sizing and Guesstimate questions

Technically, market-sizing and guesstimate is a type of Brain Teaser. But because of its popularity and importance, we have devoted a whole separate video for it.

If you would like hundreds of Brain Teasers neatly sorted into these categories, you may want to join hundreds of candidates around the globe and get access to our Case Interview End-to-End Secrets program. We devoted a whole eBook on Brain Teaser questions. There are flexible packages for you to get the whole program or just the Brain Teasers or Market-sizing parts.

Extra Practice Sources:
Brain Teasers resources

* * *

If you’re ready to go deeper, our website has plenty of resources for you to explore, and you can also subscribe to our YouTube channel or our emailing list!




Market Sizing/ Guesstimate questions: how to solve it in simple steps!

Get even more exercises by joining over 20,000+ candidates over the world in our Case Interview End to End Secrets Program!

Keep in touch with us

Get insights and updates from us on McKinsey PST and other Consulting

  • Dara Shikoh

    The answer to the woman and daughter question is that the two women are sisters. The question doesn’t state a woman and her daughter but only a woman and a daughter.

  • Ghaith EL HAJJAR

    father(church); mail box; 144; Tom

  • She Ojaj

    The answer to the train illusion question is that there will be no steam in an electrical train.

  • Jenny Li

    Thank you Ki, very helpful and informative.
    Here are my answers:
    3.wording questions: most letters;
    4.Pattern: 9 7=9(9+7)=144;
    5.logic: Tom ;
    6. wordplay: my answer is “scrambled eggs”.

  • lakshmi mukundan

    2 brain teaser – No where. It is an electric train.

  • lakshmi mukundan

    the women and her daughter were catholic and met the priest “Father” whom they saw in restaurant

  • lakshmi mukundan

    “The” + “Most”

  • lakshmi mukundan


  • lakshmi mukundan

    scrambled eggs ?