WealthManagement Magazine
The Puzzler #20

The Puzzler #20

Think you're smart? Try these brainteasers that recruiters use in actual job interviews.


An investment firm has a peculiar approach to career development. At a certain point in your career, you are presented with two bowls. Each bowl contains 25 black balls and 25 white balls, identical in touch and feel. Blindfolded, you must choose one of the bowls at random and then draw a single ball from it. If you pick a black ball, you are fired. If you pick a white ball, you get a promotion and a raise. To improve your chances, you can redistribute the balls between the two bowls before you are blindfolded if you like, but you can't discard any balls. What strategy will you use to keep your job?

Please email your solution to John Kador [email protected] using the subject line “Career Development Is It?” Deadline is September 15, 2010. Two responses will be selected to receive a signed copy of John Kador's How to Ace the Brainteaser Job Interview. Good luck.


A financial advisor describes the specific equities that make up a client's portfolio as follows: All of the shares of stock are IBM except for two, all are P&G except two, and all are Ford except two. How many shares of each does the portfolio contain?


To recap: What time is it when the following conditions are true: 1) both the hour hand and the minute hand are directly on minute divisions of the clock face, and 2) the minute hand is exactly 13 minute divisions ahead of the hour hand?

Solution: 4:36. Many readers proposed two solutions, but there is only one. I reprint below the logic of one of the winners. This puzzle drew over 100 responses. By random selection, the two winners of signed books for this contest are:

Grant Gingerich, Financial Advisor, Merrill Lynch, Merrillville, IN

Grant writes: Although the minute hand is exactly 13 divisions ahead of the hour hand at some point every hour, they both rest exactly on a minute division only 5 times an hour. This happens when the minute hand is at :00 :12 :24 :36 and :48. If you number the minute divisions on a clock from 0-59, at 4:36 the hour hand will be at exactly the 23rd tick, while the minute hand is on exactly the 36th tick placing the minute hand precisely 13 divisions ahead of the hour hand. This is the only time on a 12 hour clock this happens.

Cheryl A. Galowitch, Registered Sales Associate, Capital Planning, Center Valley, PA

Congratulations to the winners. Good luck with this issue's puzzle.

SOLUTION TO PORTFOLIO: One of each. The portfolio contains one share each of IBM, P&G, and Ford.

John Kador is the author of 10 books. His latest book is Effective Apology: Mending Fences, Building Bridges, and Restoring Trust (Berrett-Koehler). www.effectiveapology.com

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