Job interviews are stressful moments. You have probably spent hours researching the company and preparing yourself to be at your best. Still, you get there and someone mentions a penguin and a sombrero?! Now, companies are not actually preparing for a potential animal invasion to the office. Instead, these questions are usually ways for recruiters to get to know your thought process, some personality traits, how do you deal with the unexpected and your creativity facing unusual situations.
While job interview questions are pretty standard, every now and then the interviewer will throw a curveball at you. And by curveball, I mean really, really weird question. We collected some odd interview questions that people got asked, along with some advice on how to handle them if it happens to you. For all of these questions, it’s key not to panic. Their goal is to spook you by asking questions you didn’t expect and therefore didn’t prepare for. You don’t need to come up with a perfect answer, just something coherent. Ready to get prepared for whatever your future recruiter brings you?
Here’s 8 weird interview questions and how to answer them:
- If you were an animal, what would you be?
Answer: The interviewer is trying to know more about your personality and how you perceive yourself. You could go with your favourite animal here, or the one with the traits that you think fits you the most. Some examples are:
- Owl – Very wise, very good at seeing the big picture, very good at getting what it wants
- Butterfly – Always in one stage or another of development, waiting for your day to fly
- Ant – Hard worker
- Elephant – Leader, unstoppable, great memory
- Tiger – Intelligent, street smart
Source: GA Global Consulting
- What song best describes your work ethic?
Answer: Designed to make you think on your feet, don’t feel the need to shoehorn a “perfectionism is my biggest weakness”-type answer in. Instead, be honest. This is a chance to show some creativity. Questions like these show the interviewer a bit of your personality and are useful for assessing culture fit, something that is very important to recruiters.
- What is your biggest regret in life?
Answer: Again, this is designed to go beyond your comfort zone and find out what kind of person you are. Remember you don’t need to spill out your heart and soul but it’s important to be honest, too. Don’t just answer with a regret, but show what you learned from that experience.
- What do you think about when you are alone in your car?
Answer: Don’t lose yourself describing the thousand tiny things that actually cross your mind in the car. Instead, come up with a topic that has interested you recently and explain it briefly.
- If you were organising a spice rack for a blind person, how would you go about it?
Answer: While questions like this seem weird and irrelevant on the surface, they are a simple way for interviewers to see how you think under pressure. There is no right way. Instead, focus on giving an answer which follows a logical thought process.
- Name three Nobel prize winners.
Answer: Unlike most of the others on the list, this is a purely fact-based question. All you can do is name past winners. Here’s a list. Three winners you might remember are Barack Obama, Marie Curie and Martin Luther King, Jr. Be prepared for follow-up questions, though. The name alone might not be enough.
- You are shrunk to the height of a nickel and thrown into a blender. Your mass is reduced so that your density is the same as usual. The blades start moving in 60 seconds. What do you do?
Answer: This question is often used in interviews at Google. The most popular answer is to lie down under the blades, but apparently this doesn’t satisfy Google. Another answer? Just jump out. It’s not as crazy as it sounds. It’s actually relatively sensible within the confines of the scenario. The key is the word ‘density’. It gives you the clue that physics can be used to resolve the predicament. If your height was reduced to 10% of what it is now, your strength would only be 1% of what is currently is, but your weight would be only 0.01%. Small creatures are stronger (relatively speaking). This is what accounts for the astounding leaps made by fleas and other insects.
8. How much does Berlin (or any other city/place) weight? or How many supermarkets are there in Berlin?
Answer: There's no right answer, but a right way to answer it. For the weight example, you can start by estimating the number of people living in Berlin. Then, you make take an average of how much a person weight and multiply that number. You can go further and do the same for cars, buildings or whatever comes to your mind. You don't need to come up with real accurate numbers because you probably won't have a calculator nearby. Instead, focus on explicitly explaining your thought process if you all that data available. The same goes for the number of supermarkets: make an estimation of how many people there are per supermarket (you don't need to be accurate) and divide it under the population of Berlin.
9. A penguin walks through that door right now wearing a sombrero. What does he say and why is he here?
Answer: Possibly the weirdest of the lot, this is an actual question from an interview at a construction company. Be creative and show some personality. Recruiters want to know who they’ll be working with. Bonus points for accurate penguin impressions.
While none of these questions seem to have any obvious relation to work, they all offer the interviewer insight into your personality and how you think - things that are very important to know about a new hire. Because of that, they (and others like them) could come up in any job interview. So it’s worth giving them some thought during your interview prep and figuring out how you will answer any weird interview questions like these.
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