Dropbox, which provides online storage, is clearly looking for creative people who can think outside the box and wants to make interviews more fun. It is not alone; many Silicon Valley companies ask such questions. The problem is that such questions are fun only for people who understand the jokes — and who can think like the young men doing the interviews.
They don’t lead to better hiring outcomes, as Google learned. Its senior vice president for people operations, Laszlo Bock, said last June in an interview with New York Times, “…we found that brainteasers are a complete waste of time. How many golf balls can you fit into an airplane? How many gas stations in Manhattan? A complete waste of time. They don’t predict anything. They serve primarily to make the interviewer feel smart.”
Such hiring practices also disadvantage women. They hurt the employer by limiting the talent pool. They fortify the male-dominated, frat-boy culture that Silicon Valley is increasingly being criticized for.