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“Estimate the number of cars in Delhi.” That’s a common guesstimate question asked in data analytics and management interviews.

The same question can be asked with slight variations, such as “Estimate the number of cars in your city.” Solving both requires the same logic.

In this post, we will discuss how to approach this kind of question easily and suggest some expert tips for solving guesstimates in an interview.

But let’s first understand…

Guesstimate questions can be the deciding factor for your selection in an interview. So, you have to be careful about them and understand the purpose behind these questions.

So, here’s what the interviewers evaluate when you solve a guesstimate:

- Are you good with numbers?
- Can you solve problems under pressure?
- Can you make reasonable assumptions?
- Can you clearly explain the logic behind your answers?
- Can you follow a structured approach to solve complex problems?

We at Ivy Pro School help students learn how to solve guesstimates in our business analytics course. This course teaches students in-demand tools, such as Python, SQL, and Tableau, as well as useful skills like machine learning, database management, etc. If you want to be an expert data analyst and master solving guesstimate, you can join our course.

The key to solving guesstimate questions is making the right assumptions and applying proper logic.

Remember, your approach matters more than the answer. An accurate answer is good, but it’s the way you approach the problem that truly impresses interviewers.

So, here are the 4 steps to solve this problem:

If you don’t understand the guesstimate interview question, ask for clarification. It’s better to confirm what the interviewer is looking for than to head in the wrong direction.

Since you have to find how many cars are in Delhi, so you have to be sure about these things:

- Are we talking about Delhi or Delhi NCR?
- Are we talking about only personal cars or all cars, including commercial ones?
- Are we talking about the number of cars that run on Delhi roads in a day or simply the total number of cars that exist in Delhi?

Let’s say the exact question is this: How many total personal cars exist in Delhi?

Complex problems are less scary when broken down into smaller, manageable parts. So, divide the question into parts based on factors that influence the answer.

In this case, we can break down the question into 3 parts:

- The population of Delhi
- Total number of families in Delhi
- What percentage of families own one or more cars.

Let’s solve each of those problems one by one:

We can assume the population of Delhi is 3 crores.

Next, in India, a family has, on average, 4 members. So, we can divide the total population of Delhi by 4 to get the total number of families in Delhi.

Next, not all families in Delhi own cars. Most of them can’t afford cars. So we would assume 60% of families don’t own cars and 40% of families own cars.

Now, out of 40%, some families would own one car. And there will be some rich families (a very small percentage) who would own 2 cars.

Let’s say 35% of families own one car, and 5% of families own two cars.

Time to combine all the pieces of the puzzle and do some quick calculations:

**The population of Delhi= 3,00,00,000**

**The total number of families in Delhi= (population)/(number of people in a family) =3,00,00,000/4 = 75,00,000 families**

Now, out of these 75 lakh families, we have assumed that 35% own one car and 5% own 2 cars.

**So, total number of personal cars= (75 lakhs)x(0.35)x(1) + (75 lakhs)x(0.05)x(2) = 33.75 lakh cars**

So, our guesstimate says Delhi has approximately 33,75,000 personal cars.

You can use the same logic to solve questions like, “estimate the number of cars in a city.”

Here are similar questions you can practice to sharpen your mind:

- How many iPhone users are there in India at present?
- How many tennis balls can fit in a Boeing 737?
- How many cups of tea are consumed in Delhi a day?
- How much paint is used to paint metros in Delhi?
- How many people live in a housing society?
- Estimate the total number of ATMs across India.

Do the following things to get better at solving guesstimates.

You won’t suddenly get a superpower to solve guesstimates on the interview day. You have to develop that ability by practicing questions every day.

You can look for guesstimates everywhere you go. For instance, when you order a book from Amazon, you can estimate how many people get Amazon delivery in one day in your city.

If you are comfortable with numbers, you can solve guesstimates quickly. So, practice quantitative aptitude questions and try to do mental calculations.

It’s always a good idea to know basic stats like the population of India, the ratio of males to females, the population of a few major cities, etc. This way, you will be able to make good assumptions and impress the interviewer.

Guesstimate questions aren’t about having an exact answer. Instead, interviewers want to see your approach to solving the problem.

So, try to follow a logical approach using reasonable assumptions.

This ability to break down problems, estimate smartly, and communicate your approach confidently is far more important than the accuracy of your final answer.

Ivy Pro School teaches in-demand skills like Data Science, Business Analytics, Cloud Engineering, Gen AI, etc., and helps students get high-paying jobs.

When you join these courses, you get to learn from mentors at top institutions like IIT and companies like Google and Microsoft.

The online classes and live doubt-clearing sessions help you solidify your skills. And the real-world projects give you hands-on experience and make a compelling portfolio.

Since 2008, we have helped over 26,000 alum land jobs at leading companies like Deloitte, Amazon, and Samsung. If you want to join them, learn more about our courses today.

Ivy Sep 13, 2018 No Comments

Solving guesstimates can be tricky. Not only do you have to rely on unknown data and assumptions, but you also have to come up with an answer in a pressurizing situation such as an interview.

Guesstimate questions are common in interviews, especially if you are appearing for data analytics, consulting, or management roles. And you need a good command of analytical skills and creativity to solve these problems.

In this post, we have explained **how to solve guesstimate questions** with an example. We have also shared some expert tips and suggested books so that you thrive in the interview.

But first, let’s understand…

A guesstimate is basically a calculated guess. When solving a guesstimate, you make an estimation based on your own logical reasoning.

GUESSTIMATE= GUESSWORK + ESTIMATION

So, it’s not about throwing a random number. Successful guesstimates involve breaking down a big question into smaller, solvable chunks.

For example, an interviewer might ask, “How many deliveries does Zomato make in a day in Delhi?”

You won’t find the exact answer in a textbook. Instead, you will need to estimate the population of Delhi, what percentage of them order from Zomato in a day, and how many times they order. You will also need to do some quick mental math to arrive at a reasonable figure.

The key here lies in demonstrating structured thinking. Even if your final answer isn’t 100% accurate, interviewers want to see how you approach the problem and justify your assumptions.

Here are some of the things the interviewer checks when you solve a guesstimate question:

- How structured is your approach?
- How comfortable are you with numbers?
- Can you make logical assumptions under pressure?
- Can you do mental calculations and validate the magnitude of numbers?
- Can you explain your process clearly, even if the path is a bit messy?

That said, now let’s see a good approach to crack guesstimates and thrive in your interviews.

Whenever you are asked a guesstimate, the first thing you have to do is calm yourself and ensure you completely understand the question.

You can ask clarifying questions to the interviewer. For example, if asked, “How many phones are used in India?” you should know:

- Are we talking about active phones in use or every phone ever sold?
- Are we talking about simple feature phones or just smartphones?
- Are we interested in a specific region or the whole country?

A guesstimate can be scary if you see the problem as a whole. But when you break it down, it gets a lot easier. So, divide the problem into 2-3 parts based on the different factors that influence the answer. To continue our smartphone example, you could break it down into:

- Population of India
- Percentage of people who likely own a smartphone (age groups, rural/urban divide)

Now, you can estimate each piece of your puzzle. Make reasonable assumptions based on your general knowledge. You might not know the exact population of India, but you likely know it’s over a billion. You can round the numbers to make better estimates.

Finally, put your pieces together. You will have to do some mental math to arrive at your final estimate. Remember, the goal isn’t necessarily a perfect number – it’s about showing your thought process and how you arrive at a reasonable conclusion.

Let’s take an example guesstimate question for data analyst roles: **How many cups of tea are consumed in Delhi in a day?**

Here’s how you can solve it using the above 4 steps:

1. Clarify the question if you don’t understand it. Since this one is simple and self-explanatory, you can proceed with the second step.

2. Break down the problem into manageable parts- what’s the population of Delhi, how many of them drink tea, and how many cups of tea do they drink in a day.

3. Now, you solve each piece of the puzzle.

**Population of Delhi (x):** Delhi has a big population, let’s say around 3 crores.

**People who drink tea (y):** Tea is one of the most popular beverages in north India. So, we can expect at least 70% of people would drink it.

**Number of cups a person drinks in a day (z): **Indians generally consume tea twice a day- one in the morning and one in the evening. Some may drink more than 2 cups, some may drink only one. So let’s say it’s, on average, 2 cups.

4. Now, in the final step, you combine all the pieces of the puzzle:

Total number of cups of tea consumed in Delhi in a day:

= x.(y/100).z = (30,000,000).(0.7).(2) = 42,000,000

So our guesstimate is that Delhiwalas consume around 4.2 crore cups of tea in a day!

The above **guesstimate interview question** was an easy one. You need a lot of practice to get better at it. The good thing is you don’t have to be naturally talented to do it, you can learn. So, here are some tips that will help you solve guesstimate questions:

You don’t need a rigid formula but a mental checklist to guide you. A simple framework could be: clarify the question, break down the problem, estimate components, and calculate. This step-by-step approach makes sure you address all aspects of the question and prevents you from getting overwhelmed or jumping to conclusions too quickly.

Knowing some basic demographics and statistics will speed up your calculations. For example, if you roughly know the population of major Indian cities, you can start estimating things like market size or potential customer base in certain regions. It’s okay to round and use general figures, but having a few key numbers gives your estimations a solid starting point.

**Guesstimate interview questions** are all about creativity and problem-solving. Instead of focusing on getting to “the right answer,” impress your interviewer with unique angles and approaches.

Can you tie the question to recent market trends or news? Can you think of an unconventional way to estimate a certain factor? Creative problem-solving would surely impress the interviewer.

If you want to deep dive into solving guesstimates, you can study these books:

- Cracking the PM interview — Gayle Laakmann McDowell, Jackie Bavaro
- Superforecasting: The Art and Science of Prediction — Philip E. Tetlock

If you want to crack interviews and land high-paying jobs, you can attend Ivy Pro School’s certification courses in Data Analytics, Data Science, or Gen AI.

These online courses are taught by industry-experienced mentors from IIT, IIM, and companies like Google and Microsoft, so you can already guess the value of these online courses.

Ivy has been a top-ranked Data Science, Data Analytics, and AI upskilling provider since 2008. We’ve over 26,000 alumni spread across 300+ organizations.

You can also be one of our alumni and work in companies like Deloitte, Amazon, Samsung, etc. Visit this page to learn more about our courses.