Management Consulting Brain Teasers

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Why do recruiters use brain teasers during management consulting interviews? Do they expect you to give the correct answer? By reading this article, find out what their purpose is in the recruitment process.

During management consulting case interviews, you will most likely encounter three types of problems: practical business cases,  estimate questions and brain teasers. As we all know, the last type comes in the form of puzzles, riddles and other questions that require blue sky thinking. If you are boxed in by conventionality, chances are you won’t get the right answer nor nail the question.

Management consulting brain teasers are quite mind-boggling but the good thing is, recruiters aren’t looking for the correct answer. They focus more on how logical your process of deriving the answer is. This ability is highly significant in the position you’re applying for. Consultants are lavishly paid to analyze, think and solve. If you aren’t ready for these responsibilities, then this field is probably not meant for you.

Examples of Brain Teasers

Brain teasers used as interview questions started in Microsoft and it gradually became a trend in technology companies. Currently, many interviewers are adopting it as it’s a good way of determining how smart a person is. There are lot of brain teaser examples online. On this website, this brain teaser is given as the first example:

By moving one of the following digits, make the equation correct. 62 – 63 = 1

We would usually think of moving any digit from left to right or vice versa. Unfortunately, no matter what digit we move horizontally, we can’t obtain the right answer. The most logical thing to do is to exchange numbers 3 and 2 but that’s going beyond the rule. To answer this problem, we move one digit in a vertical direction. If we move six as the exponent of 2, we can calculate that it’s equivalent to 64, It makes the equation correct.

Here’s another tricky example from this site:

Mary’s father has five daughters: 1. Nana, 2. Nene, 3. Nini, 4. Nono. What is the name of the fifth daughter?

We might instantly assume that the name of the fifth daughter is “Nunu” because the other daughters have used the four vowels of the alphabet. However, if we think about the question intently, we would recognize that the answer was already given at the start of the problem. Take note that if you find the answer to the  management consulting brain teaser in a drop of a hat, it must be wrong. There must be a trap somewhere. Brain teasers are meant to trick or confuse you.

Another classic example is summarized below.

The rich father is dying so he wants to leave his properties to the wisest among his three sons. He asked them to purchase something that is large enough to fill the bedroom, but small enough to fit in their pocket. What did the wisest child bring?

Initially, we would assume that what should fill the room must be tangible like curtain or balls. These, of course, are impossible since we can’t put them inside our pocket. It can be too complex to realize that a match can fill the room with light.

How to Answer Brain Teasers

As mentioned earlier, management consulting brain teasers can be very puzzling. It’s natural to be caught off guard with an interview question like this but if you dwell on panic, you won’t be able to clearly consider options. Be calm, remember the critical success factors and try to think of as many approaches as you can.

Further, be reminded that the purpose of the interviewers is to know how you approach the problem. If you keep your ideas to yourself, they won’t have a way of assessing your logic. Make sure that you speak out all the possibilities you’re considering. It will let the interviewers conclude that you can carry out brainstorming tasks when you’re hired for the position.

Answering management consulting brain teasers isn’t only what you should master to get a job in a management consulting firm.