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Odd interview exchange, what should I do? - Page 6

post #76 of 80
Many startups and tech firms are starting to use these questions, and most have been using these types of questions. "Fermi Questions" where you are given scenarios without any numbers or extra information. The goal is never to see the end result answer, they can give a rats ass about that. They want to see how you think, react and make a conclusion. They are interested in your thought process and methodology above all else. In most cases they are looking for people who can think for themselves, create a sensible plan, and execute it. Some of the questions can actually use solid numbers if you are crafty enough, but the numbers do not matter as much as the process does. The interviewer does not care how many tennis balls fit in a school bus. They want to know that you take into account of seats, the dip in the stair well and how you come up with your end result - and why that method was used, your reasoning.

When I saw this:
Originally Posted by Reggs View Post

Out of the blue the interviewer asks me "If you needed to know how many gas stations are in the US, and you only had a short amount of time to research it to give a rough estimate, what would you do? The process of how you find the answer is more important than the final answer. Answer this very quickly."

That is a clue in to the fact that he didn't give a shit about the answer just the process at to which you can come up with one. Not saying you blew it, we've all been there, I bet. I haven't been asked many questions like that, only silly things like, "What are ten things you can use a pencil/pen for, not including writing?" (Ralph Lauren). One of my answers were Draw and the interviewer told me that was funny because his wife answered him with the same answer. Not sure if that helped me or hurt me, job itself got cancelled since the interviewer moved to a new company the next week.

Anyway, Good Luck Reggs, hope you get what you are looking for!
post #77 of 80

in my area, population ~ 50k ~ 30 gas stations (just a guess, a phone book would increase accuracy)

300 x 10^6 / 50 x 10^3 x 20 ~ 6 x 10^3 x 30 ~ 180,000 or so for 300 mil or so

just a WAG but what he wanted to see was you thought process, not an answer

post #78 of 80
Originally Posted by Reggs View Post

For example, if there was a town with 300,000 people and 6 gas stations, each gas station would serve 50,000 people.

You misread the number in the screenshot from the case interview book, it was only 30K for 6 gas stations. Personally I think a sanity check should catch this. What kind of a city with 300K people would only have 6 gas stations (maybe in Foreign?)

In any case, good luck. If you outlined a good method and explained assumptions that was probably 50% of what the guy wanted anyway, even with you refusing to give a number.
post #79 of 80

Is this how to answer a fermi question? :P
post #80 of 80
update this if you get another interview OP
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