Can You Solve Amazon’s Hanging Cable Interview Question?


Going on a job interview is already intimidating—what about going on a job interview for one of the largest corporations to exist: Amazon?

Thanks to a MindYourDecisions YouTube video, we have a tiny sneak peek of one of the questions that are asked in interviews. And it’s, well, pretty arbitrary.

When we first heard the question, we were really confused. How in the world are you supposed to answer that right on the spot? We don’t envy anyone who stared blankly at their interviewer after hearing this question! However, thanks to the video, it makes much more sense and helps us solve the riddle.

A version of the question is as follows:

A cable of 80 meters (m) is hanging from the top of two poles that are both 50 m from the ground.

What is the distance between the two poles, to one decimal place, if the center of the cable is:

(a) 20 m above the ground? (b) 10 m above the ground?

Can you figure it out?

If you can’t, no worries! With a little help from the internet, the person who created this video goes on to find formulas to be able to solve the problem. He draws out the question in picture form and explains it—which still takes him several minutes and math equations to get there.

In the end, he runs into a problem: “This equation has no solution!”

The point of the problem is to think about it logically. And once he actually does that, it starts to make a lot more sense. And actually—equations aren’t even required.

The point of the question? “Many employees can mindlessly calculate the answer…but how many will think before they calculate?”

People were equally befuddled by the problem.

“I guess I wouldn’t have gotten the job, no wonder why they don’t have same day delivery,” someone commented.

“I’d point out that the answer is ‘not far enough’ as low-hanging cables are a safety risk,” another said.

“Always nice to learn ridiculously complicated formulas that replace a tape measure for scenarios that don’t exist. THANKS!” someone else joked.

See for yourself how to “solve” this problem in the video below!

What did you think of this “math” problem? Did you catch on right away to what they were looking for, or did it take you a few minutes? What would you have done if you received this question in a job interview?