I love my job! …

… do you?

YOU may be one of thousands of people who finished a vocational university degree (engineering, law, accounting etc.) and thought, “I need to get some professional experience to my name … and then I’ll branch out and do what I love!”  Two years later and you are still an engineer/accountant/lawyer.  You’ve learnt a lot and met some interesting people, but it wasn’t meant to be this way.  You have dreams of success and personal fulfillment!  Is now the right time to switch?  Is the economy strong enough or should you wait? There is no right time to stand up and go after what you’ve always wanted, but just don’t wait too long!

I Love My Job

I love my job, I love the pay.
I love it more and more each day.
I love my boss; he/she is the best.
I love his boss and all the rest.
I love my office and its location.
I hate to have to go on vacation.
I love my furniture, drab and gray,
And the paper that piles up every day.

I love my chair in my padded cell.
There’s nothing else I love so well.
I love to work among my peers.
I love their leers and jeers and sneers.

I love my computer and its software;
I hug it often though it don’t care.
I love each program and every file,
I try to understand once in a while.

I’m happy to be here, I am, I am;
I’m the happiest slave of my Uncle Sam.
I love this work; I love these chores.
I love the meetings with deadly bores.

I love my job-I’ll say it again.
I even love these friendly men,
These men who’ve come to visit today
In lovely white coats to take me away.

(source unknown)

Approaching the Guesstimate Question

IN A RECENT post we learnt 12 tips for nailing the Guesstimate Question, which is a usual type of question that you can expect to be asked when interviewing for a position at a consulting firm. We now consider how to approach the Guesstimate Question.

There are at least three ways to answer a guesstimate question:

  1. Try to guess the answer;
  2. If you can’t guess, break the question down into smaller pieces that you can guess; or
  3. If you still can’t guess, establish possible upper and lower bounds within which the answer is likely to fall.

1. Guess the answer

In the case interview the “try and guess” approach is unlikely to be helpful because the guesstimate question is unlikely to be straight forward. For example, you could be asked “How many tennis balls fit in a swimming pool?” There is no way you can guess the answer to this question, and the interviewer will not be impressed if you try. The interviewer wants to assess your logic and creativity in arriving at the answer.  You will need to break the question down into smaller pieces.

2. Break the question down into smaller pieces

You can break the question down into smaller pieces by asking the interviewer questions. And if the interviewer doesn’t have an answer, you can make a series of narrowing assumptions.

a) What is the volume of a tennis ball? “Assume 140 cubic centimeters.”

b) Are we talking about a standard Olympic sized swimming pooling? “Yes.”

c) What is the volume of an Olympic swimming pooling? “What do you think?”  You will need to make a series of narrowing assumptions and might reason as follows:

I know that an Olympic swimming pool is 50 meters long.

An Olympic swimming pool has 8 lanes and, based on my experience, each lane is about 2.5 meters wide. So, I will assume that an Olympic swimming pool is 25 metres wide.

Based on my experience, an Olympic swimming pool is about 2 meters deep at the shallow end and 3 meters deep at the deep end. I will assume that the pool starts getting deeper at the 30 meter mark and hits maximum depth 10 meters from the end of the pool.

d) What is the volume of a tennis ball in cubic metres?

e) How many tennis balls fit in a swimming pool?

3. Establish upper and lower bounds

Establishing possible upper and lower bounds for an answer is a good way to sanity check that the final answer is in the right ball park.

The number of tennis balls that fit inside an Olympic sized swimming pool is almost certainly more than 10,000 and less than 100,000,000. Therefore, our initial estimate is in the right ball park.

4. Take the extra step

Since tennis balls are spherical, there will be small gaps between the tennis balls. This means that the actual number of tennis balls that fit in an Olympic swimming pool will be less than our initial estimate. Let’s assume that 5% of the pool is filled by the empty space between tennis balls.