How to Handle Weird Interview Questions

April 13th, 2009 by lewis

“If aliens landed in front of you and offered you any position on their planet, what would you want?”

It’s not common, but interviewers sometimes ask weird, wacky, and unusual interview questions. If it’s appropriate, ask the interviewer to clarify their intention. For example, with the aliens question, you can ask, “Is the goal here to measure my creativity?” But do go with the flow and make your best effort to answer his or her question. Keep the answer brief to minimize any damage to your candidacy, and hopefully you’ll move onto a more straightforward, productive question soon.

Here are a few sample answers for off-the-wall questions from the book, How to Say It Job Interviews.

In a newspaper story written about your life, what would the headline say?

“The headline would read: Welfare Kid Makes It to the Top. I am very proud of the fact that, although I grew up on public assistance, I always stayed focused, studied hard, and kept my eye on the prize. Fast forward to adulthood and I have an MBA and am about to embark on a successful career in international business.”

Imagine you could trade places with anyone for a week. The person could be famous or not famous, living or from history, real or fictional. With whom would you trade places and why?

“As I work my way up to management, I would like to learn from George Washington and discover how he was able to inspire and motivate those around him toward a common goal.”

If you could be any animal, which one would it be and why?

“I would be a dog because dogs are known to be loyal companions who are loved dearly by their owners.”

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4 Responses to “How to Handle Weird Interview Questions”

  1. April 14, 2009 at 6:13 am, Interview Questions said:

    great post there 🙂 really useful info on interviews, anyway if you have a moment please also check this list I compiled of the 50 most commonly asked interview questions, why they are asked, any hidden motives and exactly how to answer the questions!

  2. April 20, 2009 at 7:50 am, Barbara McRae, MCC said:

    Most of the information on this post is useful. An interviewers questions can seem to not make sense. IMHO, however, as a former HR executive with Fortune 500 companies, I think it is never appropriate to ask what the interviewer is intending; that’s like asking for “the answer” to the question. Just go with the flow, immerse yourself into the question, and provide an authentic response for best results!

  3. April 20, 2009 at 9:24 am, Anonymous said:

    Here’s the weirdest question I ever got in an interview. Note, this was the last (and most important) interviewer of the day, after about 5 hours of interviews beforehand. I knew I’d been doing well, otherwise I wouldn’t have made it this far. Her question: “There’s a parking lot with three cars. They are all identical and their placement in the parking lot is irrelevant. Which car do you choose?” In my opinion, pointless, and, at the end of an extremely long and otherwise successful day, unnecessary. Needless to say, I got totally flustered and did not get an offer.

  4. April 22, 2009 at 10:37 am, Recruiting Animal said:

    Johanna Rothman advises interviwers not to ask “flakey questions” like those you’ve posted here.

    However, if you’re asked, I don’t think it’s good to give a canned answer like those you’ve suggested here.

    A question like this gives you to give you an opportunity to be interesting. So why blow it by being dull?

    If the interviewer asks who your hero is and you say Allen Ginsburg or Hunter S Thompson, you’d better be ready to cover yourself with a decent answer.

    You can’t start talking about the times you were tripping on acid and saw angels.

    But you don’t have to give a shallow “I’m a results-oriented, self-starter” answer either.

    It stinks on a resume and it’s going to stink in an interview as well.

    If you want to be cautious in that situation, you can say “My business hero is… “

    That limits you to a safe and relevant topic.

    But the key is to be intelligent and interesting – not to merely to CYA.