How to Answer Oddball Interview Questions, Applying Lessons from Justin Bieber

February 24th, 2011 by lewis

At a job interview, you may be asked any one of the following oddball questions such as “If you could be any superhero, who would it be?” or “If you could be an animal, which one would you choose?”

Oddball questions will unnerve any interview candidate. Unfortunately, clarifying questions won’t help here. If you ask, “What’s the point of this question?” you may come across as challenging the interviewer. If you ask, “Is the goal of this question to test my creativity?” you’ll ruin the fun, lighthearted, spontaneous nature of the question. (And yes, the definition of “fun” is in the eye of the interviewer!)

How do you come up with a winning response? A successful response is less about your choice and more about how you explain your choice. Justin Bieber recently received an oddball question:

Interviewer: What’s the top possession that you can’t live without?
Bieber (digging a phone out of his pocket): My iPhone.

At that moment, the interviewer, along with the audience, let out a sigh of disappointment. They expected him to name something sentimental. Instead, his response was quick and ordinary.

But he quickly erased the letdown. Bieber continued:

Bieber: If I didn’t have my phone, I can’t keep in touch with friends back home. And my friends mean everything to me.

And that’s when the audience flashed a smile. Bieber, a superstar musician, cherishes his childhood friends the most, and all he wants to do is spend time with them. Bieber had just delivered the subtle and lasting conclusion: he’s likable, friendly, and most importantly, he’s one of us.

Next time you get an oddball question, think about the conclusion you’d like to leave with the interviewer. It could be a message about your capabilities, personality, or your character. Whatever superhero or animal you choose, don’t forget to explain how the choice relates to the important message of who you are.

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