For many of us, job interviews can turn our nerves into Mexican jumping beans. Tense about making a good impression, wanting to stand out among other candidates, frozen with the anxiety of being thrown a curveball question you won’t know how to answer – job interviews require you to be on your toes, thinking quickly at all times.
But in some cases, as ready as you might be, you can never be prepared for some of the far out questions your interviewer may decide to drop on you.
To help you prepare, we conducted a brief survey to gather some of the bizarre questions people have been asked during a job interview, and the responses they gave.
A bear in a pool is weird. So are these questions…
- How many tennis balls do you think can fit in this room?
- What’s your favourite swear word and why?
The interviewer was looking for someone brazen enough to swear aloud during an interview. He ended up being a great boss! It should be noted I said s***. The f-word would probably have gotten me a promotion.
- If aliens landed in front of you and, in exchange for anything you desire, offered you any position on their planet, what would you want?
I was asked this in high school while being interviewed by the principal… The question really had nothing to do with the situation, he just seemed to be really into aliens…
- Do you believe in aliens?
In the interviewer’s defense, the candidates resume included mention of participation in SETI (Search for Extra-Terrestrial Intelligence) projects back in the day.
- Do you believe in Buddha’s teachings that “life is suffering”? Take a pro and con position and expand on each.
The interview was for a technical sales position at a major corporation. The question caught me off-guard since up to that point all the questions had pertained to the role.
- If you were a tool what would you be?
- If you could be any part of a bike, which would it be and why?
I was quick on this one and replied: “A spoke, because I’m very outSPOKEn”… My interviewer thought it was hilarious and I got the job.
- Would you like a beer?
I answered yes, obviously. But I’ll admit that I did find the question rather suspicious, as it was my second interview. In the end, it did exemplify the type of laid back work environment I was to become part of.
- How would you test something?
I was applying for a software QA position. The interviewer was appalled when I asked for clarification.
- If you were to test this pen how would you do it?
I was being interviewed for a position as a QA Tester. My answer was: “Hire a team to do it for me”. I couldn’t come up with anything else quickly enough.
- Are you ‘cool’?
I said “ahhhhh… yeah”, but I wasn’t too committed because I didn’t want to fully reveal that I knew what he was talking about. It’s a bit of a dicey question.
- If John Lennon and Elvis Presley had to fight, who would win and why?
This is a question an interviewer at a game design company asks his candidates. He says:
I ask this question to game design candidates for two reasons. First of all, how they react to the unexpected question says a lot about their personality. Do they laugh, answer straight faced or even get upset at the idea? More importantly, I want to know how well they can think on their feet with the team every day. A capital sin for a game designer is to answer questions subjectively rather than objectively. Their decisions should always consider the target audience and the circumstances of the project. So if someone in an interview answers “John Lennon, because he’s cooler”, it shows the person’s preference between the singers but not an evaluation of their fighting abilities. I worry that when asked to make quick decisions with the team, they will not take a step back and think objectively. Besides: the right answer is Elvis, obviously.
- Are you a virgin?
In France, it’s typical for employers to destabilize the candidates by asking them highly personal questions. I was applying to business school and was asked if I was a virgin. I told the interviewer I was a Sagittarius.
It’s important to note that interviewers who ask outrageous interview questions don’t usually care what specific answers are given, but instead are interested in how you approach a certain type of problem and fare when you’re put in an unusual situation.
It’s Not Your Answer Interviewers Care About
Rather than trying to find the correct answer, try and respond with something that will make you memorable to the interviewer. If you’re in doubt about whether the interviewer is serious about the questions, ask for clarification, or note that the question is unusual, and ask them why they’re asking.
Then again, sometimes the interviewer is just odd. If this is the case, you may want to ask yourself if you really want to work for a person or company that would ask you such an odd question.
Have you ever been asked a weird interview question? Share your story with us!