Is this the toughest interview question ever?

A man interviewing for a job with Microsoft was surprised to be asked a geometry question. Photo / Quora
A man interviewing for a job with Microsoft was surprised to be asked a geometry question. Photo / Quora

Your last job interview was likely pretty nerve wracking. Perhaps you even had a real curve ball of a question you just weren't expecting.

But was it as tough as the question recently revealed from a Microsoft interview?

Posted to the Q&A site Quora by a computer science student at the National Institute of Technology in Warangal, India, a geometry puzzle was put to a hopeful candidate.

Prashant Bagdia, who posted the question, revealed that in a friend's interview for a job with Microsoft he was asked what the area of a right triangle would be if it had a hypotenuse measuring 10 cm and an altitude equal to 6 cm.

While surprised that a software company would ask a geometry question, he offered an answer: "As the area of any triangle is 0.5 the base multiplied by the height, the answer to this question would be 0.5 x 10 x 6 which evaluates to 30."

When the interviewer gave him the opportunity to reconsider his answer he took a moment then confirmed his initial response "with full confidence", according to Bagdia.

But he was incorrect.

Before he left the interview room, he asked for the right answer and was told a triangle with the measurements specified could not exist.

The maximum possible altitude is half the hypotenuse, making it 5, not 6. Therefore, the puzzle was a trick.

He later learned he did not get the job.

So why would such a question be posed to an interviewee?

Penny de Valk is the director of people management business, Penna's Talent Practice.

She has previously explained to the Daily Mail that curve ball questions are often used to "put candidates on the spot to see how they react under pressure."

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