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Employers asking teaser questions in interviews are ‘sadistic’, new study finds

Written by the Editorial Team

Scientists in the US have revealed that organisations who require candidates to answer brain teaser questions during a job interview, are giving in to their ‘dark side’.

The study, involving 735 participants in the UK, US and Canada, noted that large-scale employers such as Microsoft, Xerox and Zappos are known to ask such questions as “Why is a tennis ball fuzzy?”, “How many cows are there in Canada?”, and “Why are manhole covers round?”

This is despite there being no evidence whatsoever to prove the validity and reliability of such questions during the interview stage as a measure to determining how successful an applicant might be in the role they are applying for.

According to the study, undertaken by scientists at Bowling Green State University in Ohio, those employers who favoured the use of brain teaser questions believed more strongly in intuition – gut instinct – during the recruitment process. In isolation, relying on one’s instinct isn’t necessarily a bad thing. But the scientists involved in the study found evidence to suggest something else – darker – was at play.

A co-author of the study told Applied Psychology, a peer-reviewed international magazine that publishes scholarly dissemination of findings in applied psychology, said: “Use of brainteasers in the hiring process provides little information about the suitability of the job applicant but considerable information about the callousness of the interviewer.”