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