Hewlett-Packard Interview Question: "if Germans were the tallest ... | Glassdoor

Interview Question

Product Marketing Manager Interview Cupertino, CA

"if Germans were the tallest people in the world how would

  you prove it"
research, creative thinking

Interview Answer

50 Answers


I first asked how would we define germans. People who were born in germany. People who lived in Germany. From East or West. The food they ate (had to do likely w/ $) and stuff like that.

Interview Candidate on Apr 27, 2011

Man...poorly constructed question! We only have to prove 'it' if Germans ARE the tallest people in the world. Therefore, if we are forced to prove it, it must be the case that Germans are actually the tallest people!

We could also randomly sample heights from people considered German and compare it to a random sampling of heights from people in non-German groups we are interested in. Assuming we have resources to get large enough samples and can account for a variety of biases, some ANOVA and other stats stuff can get us the answer.

GBAD on Jan 6, 2012

Ask yourself, who you are supposed to prove it to?

The question was for a Product Marketing Manager interview; could it perhaps be that what they want is to see how you take something you *know* to be true (you have to believe that the products you are trying to sell are great products to be a really great salesperson), and convince everyone else of that fact?

value exchange on Jan 8, 2012

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I would check out the Guinness Book of World Records and find out the nationality of the tallest person in the world.

Joel on Jan 10, 2012

I'd probably say to the interviewer 'As long as no one can disprove that Germans are the tallest people, then you really don't have to prove anything.'

Jiang on Jan 10, 2012

"Germans were the tallest people in the world" is a statement that is considered to be a statement that is made on basis of some Statical analysis data point then that's the proof.

In given statement, Conclusion is made prior to the proof.

ThatWasEasy on Jan 10, 2012

It would be an appropriate question if there was no 'if' in a question,

ThatWasEasy on Jan 10, 2012

Take height measurements of a statistically significant sample of Germans as well as all other groups to be considered. If the average height of the German sample is the highest, you've proven what was to be proven.

EngineerJeff on Jan 10, 2012

I can think of two different ways to get a quick insight into this:

1. Survey McDonalds. Get them to count the heights of the first 50 people in the door on a given day, then compare that information. I haven't done the confidence math on this.

2. Call the Levi Strauss company and ask them what distribution of pants they sell around the world. Bluejeans are sold just about everywhere, so except for the possibility that leg length isn't an exact indicator of overall height (I, for example, have short legs for my height) they should be able to tell you how tall people are in any given country based on the pants they sell there.

Geoff Canyon on Jan 10, 2012

You can prove that there is a statistically significant difference between 2 classes using a 2-tailed students T test. It just requires the average and standard deviation of each class. Instead of just giving up and saying we can't define who is German. Pick a definition of what a "German" is , take their average height and standard deviation, and compare it to the average and standard deviation of the rest of the world using the 2-tailed students T test (or other similar statistical tests). Collecting height data may not be realistic for 1 person but if the interviewer asked you the question with no other stipulations, then you can fill in the rest. Pretend you have unlimited resources. Just assume the data you need is known or can be looked up. I think the interviewer wants to hear you think through a problem that displays you're creativity and resourcefulness. Just saying it's not possible won't get you the job.

Research Engineer on Jan 10, 2012

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Other than measuring the height directly, another possible solution is to use the "side effects" of taller people, e.g. higher ceilings, larger shoes or clothing, or maybe it's all in the DNA?

Anyway, just call up an international retailer and ask if they make things bigger for Germans.

gary on Jan 10, 2012

I would answer with the following procedure:
1- Get the height of the shortest "German"
2- Get the height of the tallest "non-German"
if the shortest german is taller than the tallest non-german, then this argument is true. otherwise, it's false.

Yahia on Jan 10, 2012

DMV records (or likewise entities) are available all over the world.

The One on Jan 10, 2012

@Research Engineer wrote "Pick a definition of what a "German""

Well, if we are going to pick our own definition, mine would be:

1) Everyone who is over 6'6" is German;
2) Everyone under 6'6" is not German.


Justin on Jan 10, 2012

I would look to the medical community, CDC or AMA, possibly the UN.

EdRedSled on Jan 10, 2012

The proposed answers seem rather convoluted. You would have to prove it by statistics. The statistics indicate that the Dutch are the tallest people with an average height of 6 feet for men. Most of western (and eastern) Europe have surpassed the United States in height due to the US fast food compulsion and inequitable health care.

Howard on Jan 10, 2012

If we already know that Germans are the tallest people in the world, then we don't have to prove it.

DibblesMcPhee on Jan 10, 2012

This is a problem solving question - straight up, pure and simple. You take the question as a hypothesis and explain how you would go about proving the veracity of the statement. If stats exist on the internet that's probably the fastest way to answer the question. If there was time an money you could pay for secondary research (if it exists) or primary research. The interviewer only wants to see how logical you are - not to actually solve the problem or question the thesis statement.

VFra on Jan 10, 2012

I have to agree: Driver Licenses are a good source for height information. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15464003

ToThePoint on Jan 10, 2012

Gather as large of a sample of German and non-German heights. Employ a t-test/z-test to accept or reject the hypothesis at a given confidence interval.

Anonymous on Jan 10, 2012

Pull out my phone and access www.guinnessworldrecords.com This one was easy. HP needs to come up with more challenging questions if they are to prosper in 2012. HP's HR interviewer is now answering similar questions since being fired for lack of defining what he meant by a German. tsk tsk

Paneksipni on Jan 10, 2012

Their cars would be the biggest if they were indeed the tallest.

goddess63 on Jan 10, 2012

Sorry, assumptions cannot be proved, BUT let me try to convince you. This will strike some conversation, just enough time for you to think on how to convince. I am sure, all this Questions do not have a perfect answer. They want to check your thought process, patience.

Mitesh S on Jan 10, 2012

The average length of mattress in Germany is higher than the other countries, then Germans are the tallest.

HV on Jan 10, 2012

Before I do that, how will the answer best help us solve our business challenges?

Dana G on Jan 10, 2012

Germany has the largest number of stores that sell shoes in larger sizes(11 inch and above). And foot size is directly proportional to the height of person......hence germans are proved to be the tallest.

lakshman on Jan 10, 2012

If Germans "were" the tallest people in the world, I would have to prove it by determining what group "is" the tallest people in the world.

Catherine on Jan 10, 2012

No need - the Dutch are the tallest, apparently.

JohnR on Jan 11, 2012

If you work with the definition that the country with the tallest median person are the tallest nation, you can get to a solution algorithmically (assumptions: no multiple citizenships allowed, median on an even number of persons is the one at positon n/2+0.5 for simplicity. We have lots of time to do this, so we don't care about getting to a result quick)

(1) get everybody in a room.
(2) ask people to stand together by nations and form a line each
(3) repeat for each line until nobody swaps
(3-1) ask each person to swap with their right neighbour if that neighbour is shorter
(4) for each line (should be sorted by height now)
(4-1) ask the smallest and the largest person of each nation to leave
(4-2) repeat until only one or two people are left.
(5) for each of the pairs left send the shorter one home
(6) repeat until only one person is left
(6-1) ask the remaining persons to form random pairs. Don't worry if one person is left standing alone.
(6-2) send all the shorter persons in each pair home.
(6-3) If the remainin person is German - you have proved it.

Michael on Jan 11, 2012

I would respond by saying that this is a profiling question and would prefer not to answer.

:-0 on Jan 11, 2012

DMV records don't include heights in many countries of the world (including Germany). Which kind of puts the kibosh on this approach....

Lupus on Jan 12, 2012

I think average height for adults is available from census or other survays per country. Now if you consider a person living in Germany German (citizenship/residence vs nationality), the highest number of your list should be Germany, there's the proof

Llit on Feb 2, 2012

In the hypothetical world of the question, it is a fact that the Germans are the tallest. A fact is a statement that can be proven. So the fact was already proven at some point (in the make believe world). Answer is a question: How did the person who proved it before do it?

Stephanie on May 8, 2012

In Science, there is no absolute "truth." A hypothesis is not "proven" per se. You can support your hypothesis with positive data but you can never really prove it scientifically. Conclusion: your theory that "Germans are the tallest people" can either be supported or negated but not proven.

H2O on May 23, 2012

Use arrest, warrant or inmate records. They do have height information because that is an identifying characteristic, just like Scars, Marks or Tattoos.

Jerrybdot on Jul 4, 2012

Just check the most selled pant size.

Prashanth on Jul 6, 2012

By taking the average height into consideration of every country ..it would be proved that germans were tallest in the world....

pankaj patil on Aug 25, 2012

Analogy: If A=B, how would you prove it?
Answer: I don't need to. Because you already said that A=B.

Uday on Sep 22, 2012

Measure the height of the shortest doorway in a railway station or a common everyday place and compare to other nations.

bktexas on Sep 30, 2012

Germany is known for the automobile manufacturing giants like BMW etc. Just measure the the distance from the seat beneath to the rooftop above. If it is greater than any other car manufactured, then certainly an average German's height would account as the tallest.

rish018 on Jul 28, 2014

since in the qn. they have used "if", i wud answer that, "how can i prove you right or wrong, if you itself not sure about the fact"

Ashok on Jul 31, 2014

Tape measure

Anonymous on Feb 3, 2015

DMV report

Anonymous on Mar 7, 2015

I would show the average height of Germans compared to the average height of the rest of the world

Anonymous on Mar 15, 2015

Look up

Anonymous on Mar 16, 2015

I would Google it.

John Benac on May 4, 2015

First you have to define your population, then you have to establish a plan for your research. What method are you going to use to gather data, and also define your sampling plan- the bigger the sample group the more reliable. In market research there are several methods to analyze your data establishing your sampling procedure. We can use deductive or inductive research.

Anonymous on Oct 1, 2015

Classic puzzle question with aim to understand a persons thinking process and structure. The interviewer's original question drill-down approach or any of the statistical approaches are the only correct ways to answer such a problem solving question. The others -- like pant sizes, shoe sizes -- are interesting leading questions to lead to the solution. You never simply answer such a case question without drilling down on the use cases first. Apparently the other responders either failed math / proofs, are not anywhere near the product spectrum, or are random trolls jumping on a "hot" question. Sadly they downvoted the best answer and the only one that probably would have passed the interview.

Anonymous on Oct 6, 2015

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