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How to tackle weird interview questions

Written by Kimberley Startup | November 30, 2012 | 4 Comments

Oddball questions, curveball questions, interview advice, job seeker advice, interviews, candidate advice, employment advice, recruitment, online recruitmentIs a Jaffa Cake a biscuit or a cake? Name five uses for a stapler without using the staples? How many times per day do a clock’s hands overlap? If you were a crayon, what colour would you be?

No this isn’t a pub quiz, or a chat with your mates – these are just a few of the bizarre and baffling questions currently being asked during interviews.

With UK unemployment rates at 2.51 million – getting a job in today’s market is hard. At webrecruit, the average number of applications for any job is approximately 80, so you can understand why employers are upping the ante in order to separate the ‘good enough’ from the ‘very best’.

Naturally, you still get the traditional, behavioural type interview questions: ‘Tell me about a situation in which you had to deal with a customer complaint’, ‘where do you see yourself in 5 years time?’ But now, on top of all this, comes the unexpected, usually completely irrelevant and often unanswerable curveballs to catch you off guard and help identify the very best from the best.

So, why are they doing this? And more importantly, how are you expected to reply?

The logic behind the madness: These sort of ‘off the cuff’ questions are not the sort your can prepare for. But that’s why they’re asking it – to see if it throws you.

Often, employers just want to gauge your personality to see if you’re a good fit for their company and see the way you’d approach a problem that, on the surface, seems ridiculous. They want you to show willingness to adapt and think on the spot – you’d be surprised how many people can’t.

How to respond: No matter how weird you think the question, you need to give it a go. Whilst some will have a definite answer, others won’t.

It’s ok to express some surprise, ‘I wasn’t expecting that, let me have a think’ – but you do need to offer a response. Showing a sense of humour can help – in fact, this type of questioning may even help you to relax and allow the real you to come through more honestly.

Your answer will provide an insight into your problem solving abilities and entrepreneurial approach amongst other things, so be enthusiastic, creative and enjoy the challenge. Your ability to think on your feet, be spontaneous and deal with tricky situations will shine through, and potentially have more impact than your highly polished CV.

So before you head out to your next job interview, take a look at some of the most bizarre interview questions to see what you might be asked. And remember, all you can do with these questions is be yourself and help the interviewer to find out who you are.

Don’t forget though, an interview is a two way process, so it’s just as much in your interest too, to find out if you’ll fit.

What kind of oddball questions have you been asked at an interview? How did you tackle them and did you land the job?

Check out this great inforgraphic on some of the most off-the-wall interview questions, and how to answer them. Of course, these answers don’t guarantee you will land the job, but at least you’ll be remembered when you make the interviewer smile.

webrecruit have some other great resources to help you in your quest to land your dream job, so make sure you check them out.

4 thoughts on “How to tackle weird interview questions

  1. Leona on Reply

    Hi Jules. Thanks for your comments and i’m pleased to hear you found the post useful. In regards to your comment, finding the ‘right fit’ for your team has never been more important. As you mentioned, it’s not just the skills and experience required, it’s ensuring that persons motivations and drive is in line with the company, and that the person will fit in well with the team and company culture.

  2. Jules on Reply

    Very well explained. It really does seem that when an employer interviews a potential employee, their personality and likability is the first element they look at for the company aura. Then second to that comes the experience, potential and capabilities. The potential bears the most weight as employers tend to want a candidate who will grow (ability-wise) within the duration of their employment.

  3. Kristina on Reply

    Great advice!!! Answering unusual questions in a interview will be hectic. But as it is mentioned some sense of humor may work out. Thanks for the share.

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