How To Solve Estimation Problems

How To Solve Estimation Problems-39
Let’s say the interviewer asks you to estimate the weight of a schoolbus.

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It’s helpful to have these numbers in mind to bound your answer with reasonable estimates, and most of the time, these basic facts will help in your solution.

Here are some facts to start with: Don’t over-memorize.

Our approach here will be to estimate the road density for a square mile of the US.

Specifically, given a square mile of the US, how much road is in it?

Explain why you’ve decided to choose a particular number!

Let’s take a couple examples to demonstrate: How would you go about estimating the weight of elements like tires, if you have absolutely no idea? Most humans can pick up a tire, so it can’t be more than 50lbs.It’s also definitely not an item that can be easily tossed around, so let’s lower bound it by 15lbs.The average in-between estimate is 30lbs, so we can assume a tire might weigh about 30lbs.Of course, in rural environments there may be no roads at all, but in cities and even small towns, there will be much more road. After you’ve estimated the various components, you’ll need to provide a final number. There’s one last crucial piece to mention before finishing your answer.Usually, this requires plugging all your mini-estimates into your larger equation and summing the total. Unless you’re the next Stephen Hawking, your answer is wrong.If you found this article helpful, please clap 👏 to show your appreciation.You can read through an entire estimation question & answer on PMLesson’s website.For instance, in the schoolbus weight question, sum each component’s weight for the final number. Tell your interviewer if, based on a quick gut check, you think your answer is an overestimate or an underestimate.Explain to your interviewer what factors you would consider if you had more time.Before freaking out, just remember: the interviewer does not care what your actual numbers are.Be confident and make assumptions as best as you can.


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