How to answer unusual interview questions | https://owntheinterview.ca/oti-blog

Interview Tips

How to answer unusual interview questions

I'm Jenna

With over 13+ years experience leading people and a HR designation, I have heard and seen it all when it comes to interviews. I'm here to share my interviewing tips, guidance + perspective on prepping for your next job interview.

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You’ve been submitting applications and preparing for interviews for the last month, and finally, you get a call back for an interview- woohoo! 

You think about the time, energy and commitment you’ve made so far to your interview prep and of course, this prep has got to come in handy for the upcoming conversation you’ve got marked in the books. 

On the day of the interview, you login into Zoom, and while patiently waiting to be added into the room, you review your notes. You think I’ve got this! 

Twenty-five minutes later, you find yourself in the middle of your interview and then, out of nowhere, you’re asked….if you were a fruit, any fruit, what would you be?

Wait, what?

Pardon you, what fruit am I?

Now pull yourself out of that scenario, and let me ask you, have you ever experienced this?

Well, maybe not this specific one, but what about one of these below or a version of them?

  • If you could choose between invisibility or flying, which one and why?
  • If you were leaving for Mars tomorrow, what would you do to prepare?
  • And one of my favs, you’ve been given an elephant. You can’t give it away or sell it. What would you do with the elephant?

Yes, I’ve fact-checked, and these are real-life questions asked. 

And you know what, I kinda like them, and I kinda don’t. Here’s why.

The thing about these strange interview questions is that there’s no right or wrong way of answering them. Some organizations or interviewers enjoy asking them for the reaction they get from their candidates.

Other times they’re asked to evaluate critical thinking skills or bring some insight into how you handle ambiguity or maybe being under pressure.

These questions are also meant to be fun, break the ice and possibly allow the interviewer to see a further glimpse of your personality. 

Now, if you’re thinking, how am I supposed to prepare for a random question like this? Well, I’ve got you covered. 

By the time you’ve finished reading this, you’ll know my four tips to answer these weird questions with ease.

Ready for ’em? Let’s dive in.

Point 1: Try not to overthink it. It’s not necessarily about what you say.

Critical thinking is essential to many careers. Actually, I would say critical thinking is necessary for all areas of life. It’s your ability to analyze, interrupt, reflect and evaluate information. 

Rather than getting caught up with what cleaver thing you could respond with, consider sharing your thought process in your response. 

For example, let’s say the question asked is, “how many goofballs or balloons can you fit into a bus?” It’s not about having the exact answer. Walk the interviewer through how you would arrive at your response. 

I had asked the Own The Interview Instagram community what weird questions they’ve been asked in the past, and someone shared this golfball bus question. 

When they answered this in their interview, they walked the interviewer through how they would calculate the number.

They also followed this response by sharing that they would get curious if they were in a meeting with a client and were asked to find this out before diving into solution mode. Why does the client need to know how many golf balls fit in the bus? Is there anything else I should know or be aware of before spending time and energy on this particular request?

I thought that was a great addition to their response allowing the interviewers to see their best practice of slowing down to speed up.

Point 2: Think about the company’s culture. What’s important to the organization? 

If fun is a value, can you incorporate a fun way to respond? 

 If they value integrity, how about highlighting your dual diligence in finding a solution or sharing your assertive communication and follow-up? 

Answering with the perspective of what’s important to the employer allows them to imagine you are already working there. Whether they are consciously aware, your response builds a connection between you and the company’s alignment. 

Point 3: Keep in mind the job you’ve applied for.

Another thought when responding to strange interview questions is considering the job you’ve applied for. I encourage you to connect your response to a skill, ability or experience they are looking for based on the job posting. Ps, you can do this and SHOULD do this with any interview questions.

Examples:

Are you interviewing for a leadership role? Incorporate the concept of teamwork. 

Project manager? Consider adding in the skill of delegation that you would lean into to get the job done.

What about a customer service position? Share something about collecting feedback and how you would put it into action.

I believe you can always draw it back to your unique resume and why they should hire YOU!

Last but not least, point 4: Don’t avoid it! 

Try. Your. Best. 

Take a deep breath. Give yourself 30 seconds, and go for it! And, going back to point 1, don’t overthink it.

You have a finite amount of time in an interview to share why it’s you they should hire! Don’t waste this time rambling and not addressing the question. Answer the question, and as mentioned above, if you can add one of your skills or abilities suitable for the job, awww, perfection *chef’s kiss.

Speaking of rambling. Need a little help answering in a clear, concise way? Check out my blog post on exactly that over HERE

Well, that is it, my friends. 4 tips to support you in answering strange interview questions. I hope you found this useful, and if you have a weird question to share for fun, comment below and make us smile!!!

Disclaimer: I believe strange questions like these should come from a place of fun and silliness and bring lightness to the conversation. In the Own The Interview Signature course, I speak about these types of questions being ‘connection’ questions. Think of them as questions to break the ice. Remember, they don’t explicitly allow candidates to share their past experience and results, which are key factors to review when hiring a new team member.


Looking for additional career tips or interview prep resources, check out all my free resources HERE

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LOVER OF FLOWERS, GREETING CARDS, HOT SAUCE AND WHITE TEES. LIBRA, ENNEAGRAM 3 AND FIRM BELIEVER THAT ANYTHING IS POSSIBLE.

Hi, I'm Jenna.
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I'm incredibly passionate about supporting people to walk into their job interviews with confidence. With 13+ years experience leading people and a HR designation, I have heard and seen it all when it comes to interviews.

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