Microsoft Applicant Shares Crazy Hard Interview Question That Left Him Stumped


Tom Hale

Senior Journalist

clockMay 18 2016, 20:42 UTC
470 Microsoft Applicant Shares Crazy Hard Interview Question That Left Him Stumped
hans engbers/Shutterstock

If you're going for an interview at one of the world’s top tech companies, you need to know your stuff. Google’s now-banned interview questions have become the stuff of Internet folklore. But now, a former interviewee of Microsoft has revealed a question he was asked after applying for a job at the multi-billion dollar company. According to his story, their selection process is no more forgiving than Google's.

Prashant Bagdia posted on the website Quora the story of his friend who went for a job interview at Microsoft. For the last question, the interviewer asked: “A right triangle has a hypotenuse equal to 10 and an altitude to the hypotenuse equal to 6. Find the area of the triangle.”


Partly wondering why a software employer would be interested in a high school geometry question and partly wondering if this was a trick, the interviewee finally managed to piece together an answer he thought was correct, saying: “Sir, as area of any triangle is 0.5*base*height, the answer to this question would be 0.5 *10*6 which evaluates to 30!”

But his confident response was shut down by the interviewer. He was offered another chance to think about the question, but he stuck to his guns and was quickly told his answer was incorrect.

So why would they ask such a question? Well, rather deviously, a triangle with those measurements can’t exist.


As Prashant explains in his post, if the altitude is at a 45-degree angle and the hypotenuse is 10, then the largest the altitude can be is 5, as any higher altitude can’t exist in a right-angled triangle.

And nope, he didn’t even get the job in the end.

  • tag
  • mathematics,

  • Microsoft,

  • tech,

  • interview question