How Do You Answer Weird or Unusual Job Interview Questions?
You think you’ve nailed the interview, answered all the questions correctly and the hiring manager seems to really like you. You’re ready to pack up and anticipate getting an offer. Hold on…. He’s asking a weird question… a curveball.
What’s the purpose of this random, curveball question? Typically, if the interviewer thinks you have all the required skills, but wants to learn a little more about your personality, the way you think and your ability to fit in with the team, he may ask an “out-of-the-box” question. These questions usually have nothing at all to do with the job and its duties.
Hiring managers use these unusual questions to catch a glimpse of who you are in an unguarded moment. They want to assess how well you respond, knowing there is no right or wrong answer. They are giving you the opportunity to demonstrate one or more of the following qualities:
- How well you think on your feet
- Can you answer with spontaneity and honesty
- Are you willing to get your hands dirty on the job, if need be
- How creative you can be
- Your clarity of thought
- Your integrity and work ethic
- Your values and priorities
- Your professional ethics about retaining confidential information or gossiping
- Determine how organized your thinking is
- Show your level of deep thinking about larger issues
- Express your sense of humor and how you handle pressure
- Do you convey passion about the job and skills
- Show your courage to speak up in difficult context
- Demonstrate awareness of world and cultural differences
- Showcase your decision making skills
You may not be able to prepare for any specific question, but try to practice answering random questions with a friend or colleague. In addition to thinking about the answers, try to anticipate why they’re asking the question. Is there a way you can relate your answer back to the job?
For example, if the question is: What’s your favorite animal and why? You might answer it’s a “dog,” since dogs are loyal, smart and can work independently as well as in a team and they can be trained to do a lot of different things.
But what if you can’t think of anything to say?
- Buy yourself some time by asking clarifying questions. For instance, if they ask you “how many marbles can fit in this room?” You could ask: What else is in the room? Can it be moved? How high is the ceiling? Clearly, there is no specific, right answer, but the fact that you asked specific questions, helps the interviewer understand how you think and solve problems.
- Remain calm. Pause and think for a minute. You can even say “Let me think about that for a moment.”
- Think about this particular job: Is there a way to answer the question that demonstrates a trait or skill that’s required?
- Ask if you can get back to them with an answer to “that very interesting question.” Then be sure to follow up after the interview with a response in your thank you card.
Some examples of “weird questions:”
These questions have little to do with the hospitality industry directly, but they are real questions that have been asked by hiring managers, so it's worth thinking through how you might react if your thrown a bizarre or unusual question:
"Tell me 10 other things you can do with a pencil other than write."
"If you were a kitchen appliance, which would you be and why?"
"What would you do if you found out your boss was having an affair with a colleague?"
"Tell me the steps you take to make an omelet."
"What color are you and why."
"What was the last costume you wore?"
"What do you think of garden gnomes?"
"If you were a tree, what kind would you be and why?"
Again, the interviewer is trying to catch you off-guard and get insight into your personality, the way you think and what matters to you. There is no right or wrong answer, but try to relate your response back to the job (if possible) and demonstrate your strengths, creativity, awareness of diversity and your priorities in life. Then it’s up to the manager to make a judgement call. Asking a weird question helps them firm up the gut feeling that had about you all along.