If you’re applying for jobs, sooner or later you will be called in for an interview. In preparation we hope you’re practicing your interview questions and also researching the company so you’re ready for whatever comes.
What happens though when you get asked a ‘curve-ball’ question you really weren’t expecting?
The important thing to remember is that while the question may seem funny or odd, there is usually a reason behind it. Your answer allows the interviewer to get to know you better, your personality, your creativity and your ability to think on your feet.
Here are just some of the more wacky questions that have been asked in an interview and your best approach in answering them.
Questions that test your personality
- If you could be any animal, what would you be and why?
Here your best bet is to choose an animal that reflects a bit of your personality and that has positive traits. For instance a dolphin is playful and works well in a team, an eagle has a good view, an elephant has strong communication skills.
Another version of this question is what kind of tree would you be. For instance a palm tree is flexible, a fruit tree provides fruit, a jacaranda provides lots of shade.
- If you could trade places for a week with any person in the world (living or dead, real or fictional), who would it be and why?
If you choose a famous rapper for the money and the babes, you are not off to a good start. Rather, choose someone who made a positive difference to the world or someone you admire and respect (for all the right reasons). The most important part of this question is why you chose that person.
- If you were a salad, what kind of dressing would you have?
Believe it or not, this question has been asked in interviews! The real reason behind the question is to see how you think on your feet. We really don’t think anyone has spent time thinking about what kind of salad they would be, let alone what dressing to put upon thy salad self. So there is no right or wrong answer, just be creative and don’t be afraid to pause and consider your answer, or ask further questions if needed.
- If there was a movie about your life, what would the title be and why?
To this question (and questions like this) it is best to choose something up-beat so that when you are explaining ‘Why?’ you don’t have to give too personal an answer that could potentially get awkward. You could take this opportunity to focus on a positive trait in your life (eg. The Girl Who Never Gave Up) and don’t be afraid to introduce a bit of humour in your answer also.
- Do you consider yourself a hunter or a gatherer?
There is no right or wrong answer here but usually this is asked based on the role you are going for. For instance, a Hunter (hunts to kill) is a great answer if you are going for a sales role or where you need to bring in business. A Gatherer (picks berries and fruits etc) is great if you are working in a team or there is research involved in your role.
The key to answering these types of personality questions is to not be thrown by them. Take a second to think, ask questions and consider the kind of person they want in the role.
Questions that test your logical thought processes:
- Describe the colour green to a person who has been blind from birth
This is really hard to do! The interviewer is asking you this impossible task to see how good you are at simplifying something quite complex. They may also be paying attention to your communication skills and consideration of the person with the disability.
- What would you take on a deserted island with you and why?
The answer to this question will reveal if you are a practical person or sentimental, depending on the items you choose to take. It is more about getting to know you as a person and there is no right or wrong answers.
- How many pencils can you fit in this room?
This one is definitely showing your ability to problem solve so don’t be afraid to ask further questions and talk your process through. They will also be looking at how game you are to speak up to get further information. You could easily answer ‘a lot of pencils’ but to accurately answer this question you will need further information such as how large the pencils are, will the furniture remain in the room etc. No-one is really expecting you to work out the problem, they will most likely stop you before you whip out your calculator and actually work out the answer.
Of course, these questions are just some of the potential crazy questions you may (or may not) get thrown in an interview. There is no point practicing your answers to these but instead have a strategy for how to handle these types of questions. For instance, repeat the question, pause to think, ask questions if needed.
The most important thing to remember is that the interviewer is not necessarily looking for the ‘correct’ answer, rather they are trying to see a team fit through personality, your ability to remain calm when thrown something unusual and your ability to talk through and solve problems.