Top Unexpected Questions During Job Interview
What do the people find the scariest during job interviews? Some can say that a new environment is stressful; the others will admit feeling uncomfortable while being evaluated by the other person. But, in fact, what people find the hardest part of the interview is being asked tricky questions.
And even if you’ve prepared for an interview thoroughly, managed a few stress reduction techniques and did a preliminary research about the company, you still can’t be immune to non-standard interview questions. Today, we’ll give a few hints and tricks on how to manage such questions.
Usual and unexpected interview questions
The interview questions can be divided into two groups. The first group includes standard questions which are typically asked during any interview in any company. The examples of standard interview questions are the following:
- Tell me a few words about yourself
- What are your biggest strengths and weaknesses?
- What do you know about the company?
- Why should we hire you?
- Tell me about the biggest challenge at work and how you managed with it.
There are full lists of such questions available out there in the web, with examples on how to answer them. However, while answering these questions, you stay in your comfort zone, while the hiring manager’s task is to pull you outside of that zone, and the best way to do so is to ask you questions you don’t expect to hear.
Why companies use non-standard interview questions
The hiring manager’s main goal is to reveal how you will act in a stressful and unexpected situation. Moreover, such questions can reveal your process of thinking and personality traits, which is especially important for creative or leadership positions.
Here are the examples of unusual interview questions:
- What is your personal definition of success?
- If you could choose any historical figure to have lunch with, who would it be?
- If you were a superhero, which superpowers would you choose to have?
- If you had six months without financial constraints, what would you do with the time?
- If someone offered writing your biography, which title would you choose?
- Can you give a reason why we should not hire you?
The above questions are designed to find out about your motivation and introspection. What is your inner drive and are you really focused on achieving success? When answering them, it’s important to support your answers with clear judgments and align them with the prospective position. For example, if asked about who you’d like to have lunch with, you can choose Bill Gates if you apply for a senior IT development position.
- Can you describe the process and benefits of wearing a seatbelt?
- How would you describe making an omelet to someone who has never done this before?
These questions are designed to evaluate your communication abilities. Nearly every applicant claims on their resume that they excel in interpersonal communication – so, this is the way to identify whether it’s true or not. Such questions also show your attention to detail and whether you can summarize simple tasks, especially when explaining things to someone who is not familiar with the subject.
- If aliens landed and said you could have any job on their planet, what would you choose?
This question is asked to understand your professional goals. So, don’t be afraid to sound ambitious and understand that you have the drive to climb up the corporate ladder. However, do mention how you are planning to achieve this goal; because if you state you’d like to be a CEO but have no idea of what should be done for it, you won’t impress the hiring manager.
- How many balloons would fit into this room?
- Tell the alternative ways of using the stapler without staples
- You’re a new addition to the crayon box. What color would you be and why?
Such questions are asked to evaluate the creative thinking skills of a candidate. So, feel free to use your imagination and come up with really unexpected and even nonsense answers; if you manage to think of something the interviewer hasn’t heard before, it’s great.
How to respond to unexpected interview questions
- Ask for a little time if you need to
If the interviewer caught you with a really surprising question, you can always say something like “Oh, it’s a great question! Let me think about it…” You don’t need to hurry up with a response.
- Connect your answer to the company or the role
Whenever possible, connect your answer to a prospective job. For example, if asked “Are you a cat or a dog person?” you can think of the traits needed for the job and which animal reflects them better. Although, if you know for sure that the recruiter is a cat person, you can answer the same to connect with them on a personal level.
- Don’t be silent or say ‘I don’t know’
Remember that all the tricky questions barely have the ‘right’ answer. They are designed to drag you out of your comfort zone and let the hiring manager know your real personality traits: creativity, ability to solve complex problems, communicate clearly, etc. So, even if the question came as a total surprise, answer whatever comes to your mind – but do this with enthusiasm and a portion of sense of humor.
- Think aloud
If you were asked a complex analytical question, this also doesn’t mean that you have to come up with the right answer. Most importantly, they are interested in the way you think through the problem to discover a solution. So, share the steps of how you think over the task or the problem – and even if you don’t provide the right answer, you’ll demonstrate your analytical skills.
Keep in mind that the main goal of an interviewer asking non-standard questions is to get you out of your comfort zone to check how you are going to react in stressful, unexpected situations. Ability to think on your feet and make decisions in a rapidly changing environment are highly important for many positions; so, make sure to react in any unexpected questions with confidence. And even if you don’t know how to respond to a particular question, make sure to demonstrate the way you think and creative approach.
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