Sample Interview Questions: Why Are Manhole Covers Round? was originally published on Firsthand.
This is the classic brainteaser, straight to you from Microsoft (the originator). Even though this question has been around for years, interviewees still encounter it.
Here’s how to “solve” this brainteaser. Remember to speak and reason out loud while solving this brainteaser!
Why are manhole covers round? Could there be a structural reason? Why aren’t manhole covers square? It would make it harder to fit with a cover. You’d have to rotate the cover exactly the right way. Therefore, many manhole covers are round so they don’t need to be rotated. There are no corners to deal with. Also, a round manhole cover won’t fall into a hole because it was rotated the wrong way, so it’s safer.
There may be other reasons why corners are a problem and why a round shape is better. You can’t cut yourself on a round manhole cover. And because it’s round, it can be more easily transported. One person can roll it.