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Hedge Fund Brainteasers: The Light is Broken |

Jeff Altman, The Big Game Hunter offers up a scenario for you in this brainteaser and provides you with its answer.


You wake up early one morning and find the light in your bedroom is broken. You have one like in there. You get dressed in the dark. Your sock drawer has socks of three different colors – – red, yellow and blue. How many socks do you have to take out to be certain of having a matching pair?

To me, it implies that you never know when you put the socks away you put them in a ball that so that are all separate and thrown in there and that you only have three pairs of socks so it's a ridiculous question. But go with it, okay?

So, let's say the first one you pull out his red and, in theory, the second one can be red but it also be yellow, for example. So, a red and a yellow. Remember, you don't have to just match the red; you can match the yellow, too. So let's say, you pulled out the next sock and it was blue. So now you have red, yellow, blue. Automatically, the next one’s the one that creates a match for one of them because out of these three we have already picked, one the six socks very in your drawer are going to wind up matching.

So, the correct answer to the question is four.

You can have fun with the interviewer throughout this and say, “So, you assume I don't take care my socks before I put them away. You only work with the assumption that I own six socks in the world and they have to be three different colors.”

So, you can have some fun with the interviewer along these lines, teasing them kind of makes it seem like a ridiculous question. Then, you go through the format with them. Part of what firms that ask questions like this like is the arrogance that comes with knowing. So you can smile. You can tease. It's like playing with them like they were trying to play with you and matches their arrogance, which is as important as actually having the methodology answer the question.


Jeff Altman, The Big Game Hunter is a career and leadership coach who worked as a recruiter for what more than 40 years. He is the host of “No BS Job Search Advice Radio,” the #1 podcast in iTunes for job search with more than 1200 episodes, “Job Search Radio,” “and his newest show, “No BS Coaching Advice” and is a member of The Forbes Coaches Council.

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