Math Interview Questions (With Example Answers And Tips)

By Indeed Editorial Team

Updated 5 December 2022

Published 1 May 2022

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

Math skills are necessary for most careers today. They are essential for jobs in science and technology, finance, schools and universities, research and development and in the field of computers. The hiring manager may ask you math questions during the interview to assess your mathematical skills and test problem-solving capabilities. In this article, we discuss some math interview questions with their answers and provide you with various other questions that you may encounter during an interview.

Math interview questions with sample answers

Math interview questions require reasoning, analytical and critical thinking skills. By asking these questions, the hiring manager can assess your ability to think and gauge your understanding of fundamental concepts. Here are some math interview questions with explanations and sample answers:

1. Describe the various branches of mathematics with which you are familiar. Which one do you prefer?

Employers may ask you about the types of math you know and feel comfortable with, so they can assess your strengths and determine if you possess the necessary skills for the job. After briefly listing a few math areas you have experience with, describe the branch of math you are proficient in.

Example: "My math skills include basic arithmetic, algebra, geometry and calculus. My interest in calculus comes from my ability to understand how parameters change with respect to one another. I can appreciate the intricacies of complex systems, how variables are interrelated and how a change in one can affect the other. The other area that interests me is statistics. It helps me understand the data better and appreciate how professionals processed large amounts of data to design complex systems."

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2. What mathematics courses have you taken?

The interviewer may ask this question so they can find out how much formal math training you have, the courses you have taken and your understanding of various concepts. Explain to the interviewer how and where you used the concepts you studied.

Example: "I took up geometry, algebra and trigonometry in high school. At college, I attended courses that included probability, statistics, linear algebra, calculus and vectors. I was able to use these concepts in my computer science courses to design different algorithms and machine learning models."

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3. What are some scenarios where you put your math concepts to use?

This question enables the interviewer to see if you have applied your knowledge and skills to solving a real-world problem. It helps them understand your skill-set and your ability to apply it in specific scenarios to get the desired results.

Example: "I used my knowledge in statistics to perform exploratory data analysis on a school dataset. I was able to obtain information on the gender ratio, the salaries of teachers, the number of years of experience, the grades that students attain in different subjects and the number of admissions each academic year from the database. The result of this was a more in-depth analysis of the growth of a school over time and its areas for improvement."

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4. What is the central limit theorem?

In addition to determining whether you are comfortable with this kind of math, a hiring manager can assess how confident you are in the concepts that you know. Furthermore, they may want to look at your ability to communicate about a topic and your in-depth understanding of it.

Example: "When you take large random samples with replacement from a population with specific mean and standard deviation, the sample mean distribution corresponds to a normal distribution. Even if the distribution of the data is not normal, the distribution of the means of the samples drawn from it would be normal. It can be used to estimate the average family income in a region."

5. Let A and B be two events in the same sample space, with P (A) = 0.4 and P (B) = 0.8. Can you call them disjoint events?

Potential employers might ask this question to determine your level of comfort with basic math skills and how strong your fundamental concepts are. It is essential to be concise and clear. You can provide an example if possible.

Example: "Events that are disjoint never occur at the same time. In the above questions, the two events cannot be disjoint. If they are disjoint then the total probability would be 0.4 + 0.8 which is 1.2. This is contrary to the law that probability can never exceed 1."

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6. Explain the concept of Bayes' theorem?

During the interview, you can expect similar questions. Provide an example to demonstrate your understanding. The interviewer can see that you have a strong grasp of fundamental concepts.

Example: "The Bayes' theorem describes how likely an event is to occur given any condition. Bayes' theorem can be used to calculate conditional probability. As an example: if you give four bags of balls, each with three balls of varying colours: red, green and blue and we calculate the probability of taking a green ball from the fourth bag. When a probability of an event depends on other factors, we call it conditional probability. We can use the formula of Bayes' theorem to calculate the probability of this event."

7. What is a unit vector?

The interviewer may proceed to ask questions from other areas of mathematics. The interviewer can determine what your strengths and weaknesses are in the other areas.

Example: "Vectors are quantities with both magnitude and direction. Unit vectors have magnitudes of 1. Dividing a vector by its magnitude makes it a unit vector. Unit vectors are commonly used to indicate direction and the scalar coefficients provide magnitude."

8. What is a position vector? Where do you use them?

If the interviewer wants to gauge your understanding of a topic further, they may ask a similar question as a follow-up question. Whenever possible, consider adding examples; this shows your grasp of the topic and ability to explain it through analogies.

Example: "A position vector specifies the location of a body. To describe the motion of a body, it is vital to understand its position. Position vectors change length or direction or both as the point moves. Thus, they can be used to track the current position of a particular point in space."

9. What is the rank of the matrix? What is the rank of a null matrix?

There can be theoretical questions that assess your ability to recall concepts from various topics and use your conceptual abilities to answer them. Explain how you arrived at each step and how you made your conclusion.

Example: "The rank of a matrix is the maximum number of linearly independent columns or rows of a matrix. The rank cannot exceed the number of row or column elements. There are no rows or columns in a null matrix. Therefore, this matrix has a rank of zero."

10. What is a linear equation? Where can you use it?

Such questions are a good way of assessing your capability to apply a concept in a real-life situation. Provide examples that clearly demonstrate how you applied these concepts to solve a real-world problem.

Example: "Linear equations are equations of the first order. We call equations as linear equations in one variable if they contain only one variable. There can be more than one variable in a linear equation. In that case, we call them linear equations in two variables and so on. A linear equation can be used to represent almost any scenario where an unknown quantity is present, such as determining income over time, calculating speed or distance and predicting profit."

11. What is the limit of a function?

If you mentioned any areas of interest at the start of the interview, the interviewer can ask questions related to those. By asking these questions, the interviewer can determine your strengths and your approach towards these.

Example: "A function's limit at a point a in its domain is the value the function approaches as its argument approaches a. In simple words, the limit is the value that a function approaches as inputs to that function approaches a specified number."

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Other math interview questions

The following are some additional math interview questions that hiring managers may ask:

  • What is conditional probability? Can you explain the difference between conditional probability and joint probability?

  • What are the eigenvalues of a matrix? How w you determine the eigenvalues of a matrix given the eigenvectors?

  • What are derivatives in calculus? What are their applications?

  • What is the probability that a leap year selected at random contains 53 Sundays?

  • How would you calculate the growth percentage of a company if we give you the growth percentage of each segment?

  • What are the different classifications of probability distributions?

  • Determine the number of sides of a polygon given that the number of diagonals is 44.

  • What is the mean, median and mode of a dataset? How would you calculate them?

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