Serious ammunition to pack for your next job interview.

READ REVIEW

ARE YOU SMART ENOUGH TO WORK AT GOOGLE?

TRICK QUESTIONS, ZEN-LIKE RIDDLES, INSANELY DIFFICULT PUZZLES, AND OTHER DEVIOUS INTERVIEWING TECHNIQUES YOU NEED TO KNOW TO GET A JOB ANYWHERE IN THE NEW ECONOMY

Poundstone (Priceless: The Myth of Fair Value, 2010, etc.) surveys today’s tough job-interview questions.

“We live in an age of desperation,” writes the author. “Never in living memory has the competition for job openings been more intense. Never have job interviews been tougher. This is the bitter fruit of the jobless recovery and the changing nature of work.” Job interviews have become not only personally invasive, but also intellectually diabolical. Behavioral questions and work samples are now supplemented by logic puzzles, and this isn’t just at Google and Microsoft, but at the local shoe store as personnel departments have caught the general drift that there are more bodies than jobs and talent goes begging. Despite the air of gloom, Poundstone keeps a jaunty tone as he gives advice on how to field the offbeat, odd-angle questions tossed by interviewers, often open-ended and with no definitive correct answer—in order to test mental flexibility, entrepreneurial potential and innovativeness. Google’s hiring process is the author’s standard, which sets the bar pretty high, but its practice is contagious: “Weird interview questions are a meme, like a joke or viral video. It’s catchiness, rather than proof of their effectiveness, that keeps them in circulation.” Hiring is still a game of chance, yet for the “zombie hordes of unemployed and underemployed [who] are willing to claw at anything that even looks like a job,” Poundstone offers dozens of teasers to tackle (answers included). These include insight questions and lateral-thinking puzzles, how to spot an algorithm question and how to dig below the cryptic surface. In perhaps the most inspired paragraphs, he explains the art of salvaging the southbound interview, but he notes that much of this is improvisation.

Serious ammunition to pack for your next job interview.

Pub Date: Jan. 4, 2012

ISBN: 978-0-316-09997-4

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: Oct. 19, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 2011

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Striking research showing the immense complexity of ordinary thought and revealing the identities of the gatekeepers in our...

THINKING, FAST AND SLOW

A psychologist and Nobel Prize winner summarizes and synthesizes the recent decades of research on intuition and systematic thinking.

The author of several scholarly texts, Kahneman (Emeritus Psychology and Public Affairs/Princeton Univ.) now offers general readers not just the findings of psychological research but also a better understanding of how research questions arise and how scholars systematically frame and answer them. He begins with the distinction between System 1 and System 2 mental operations, the former referring to quick, automatic thought, the latter to more effortful, overt thinking. We rely heavily, writes, on System 1, resorting to the higher-energy System 2 only when we need or want to. Kahneman continually refers to System 2 as “lazy”: We don’t want to think rigorously about something. The author then explores the nuances of our two-system minds, showing how they perform in various situations. Psychological experiments have repeatedly revealed that our intuitions are generally wrong, that our assessments are based on biases and that our System 1 hates doubt and despises ambiguity. Kahneman largely avoids jargon; when he does use some (“heuristics,” for example), he argues that such terms really ought to join our everyday vocabulary. He reviews many fundamental concepts in psychology and statistics (regression to the mean, the narrative fallacy, the optimistic bias), showing how they relate to his overall concerns about how we think and why we make the decisions that we do. Some of the later chapters (dealing with risk-taking and statistics and probabilities) are denser than others (some readers may resent such demands on System 2!), but the passages that deal with the economic and political implications of the research are gripping.

Striking research showing the immense complexity of ordinary thought and revealing the identities of the gatekeepers in our minds.

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 2011

ISBN: 978-0-374-27563-1

Page Count: 512

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: Sept. 4, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2011

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A deftly argued case for a new kind of socialism that, while sure to inspire controversy, bears widespread discussion.

CAPITAL AND IDEOLOGY

A massive investigation of economic history in the service of proposing a political order to overcome inequality.

Readers who like their political manifestoes in manageable sizes, à la Common Sense or The Communist Manifesto, may be overwhelmed by the latest from famed French economist Piketty (Top Incomes in France in the Twentieth Century: Inequality and Redistribution, 1901-1998, 2014, etc.), but it’s a significant work. The author interrogates the principal forms of economic organization over time, from slavery to “non-European trifunctional societies,” Chinese-style communism, and “hypercapitalist” orders, in order to examine relative levels of inequality and its evolution. Each system is founded on an ideology, and “every ideology, no matter how extreme it may seem in its defense of inequality, expresses a certain idea of social justice.” In the present era, at least in the U.S., that idea of social justice would seem to be only that the big ones eat the little ones, the principal justification being that the wealthiest people became rich because they are “the most enterprising, deserving, and useful.” In fact, as Piketty demonstrates, there’s more to inequality than the mere “size of the income gap.” Contrary to hypercapitalist ideology and its defenders, the playing field is not level, the market is not self-regulating, and access is not evenly distributed. Against this, Piketty arrives at a proposed system that, among other things, would redistribute wealth across societies by heavy taxation, especially of inheritances, to create a “participatory socialism” in which power is widely shared and trade across nations is truly free. The word “socialism,” he allows, is a kind of Pandora’s box that can scare people off—and, he further acknowledges, “the Russian and Czech oligarchs who buy athletic teams and newspapers may not be the most savory characters, but the Soviet system was a nightmare and had to go.” Yet so, too, writes the author, is a capitalism that rewards so few at the expense of so many.

A deftly argued case for a new kind of socialism that, while sure to inspire controversy, bears widespread discussion.

Pub Date: March 10, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-674-98082-2

Page Count: 976

Publisher: Belknap/Harvard Univ.

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2020

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