How to Handle Those Strange Interview Questions

Wednesday, April 20th, 2016

interview questionsYou may have heard stories of strange interview questions being thrown at people during their interviews, but how do you respond when it happens to you?

Everything might be going along nicely, you feel confident, and then this happens…

What do you think of garden gnomes?

Perhaps you misheard the interviewer. You ask them to repeat the questions. And there it is again!

What do you think of garden gnomes?

Is it a trick question? What do they want to hear from you? If you say you like garden gnomes, will they think you are a bit weird? If you say you don’t, will they get offended?

Why do employers ask strange interview questions?

The employer wants to see how you react to something out of the ordinary and to ascertain how quickly you can think on your feet. They want to get a better sense of who you are outside of the standard interview question. In their eyes, an unconventional question gives them a little bit more information about you. Consider it a creative alternative question to the standard, what is your favourite movie, colour or book.

You have nothing to lose and everything to gain by answering their question as best as you can, just like every other question before it.

What to do when a strange question gets thrown your way

  • Don’t panic.
  • Do not blurt out the first thing that comes into your head.
  • Pause before responding to put it into perspective.
  • Don’t try to be witty for wit’s sake.
  • Smile. Laugh if you need to, to buy yourself a few seconds of time.
  • Ask for a moment or two to give it some thought. A well thought out answer is better than a ridiculous automatic response.
  • Don’t be afraid to ask for clarification or an example. It might shed some light on why they are asking this question.
  • Ask if you could come back to this question to give you time to come up with an answer.
  • Try not to overthink it.
  • Be honest and answer as best you can. Is there a wrong answer here?

To help you out, here are some examples of strange interview questions to prompt a response. See how you go? Before you start thinking this could never happen to me – note these are all real questions which have been used in interviews.

  1. If you could be remembered for one sentence, what would it be?
  2. What super power would you choose?
  3. What do you think you will hate about this job?
  4. If you are the CEO, what are the first three things you would check when you wake up?
  5. What would the name of your debut album be?
  6. How would you get an elephant into a refrigerator?
  7. If I gave you $40,000 to start a business, what would you start?
  8. If you were a brand, what would be your motto?
  9. Who is your role model and why?
  10. If you could be any animal, what would you be?
  11. What is your preference – Pepsi or Coke?
  12. What is your favourite Disney Princess?

Now don’t feel you need to start watching every Disney cartoon in the hope you get asked this question. For the most part, you cannot prepare for these questions. They are what they are. They are questions purely designed to test your response to an off the wall situation. Pause. Reflect. Respond. And if your answer just happens to make them smile at the same time, then that is a bonus!