INTERVIEWS / AUG. 22, 2015
version 17, draft 17

5 Strange Interview Questions and How to Answer Them

answer questions

There’s no doubt that interviews are stressful. During preparation, applicants tend to focus on the more common interview questions. In some cases, however, interviewers ask you some really strange things, requiring you to think on your feet. Whether you need to problem-solve or voice your opinion, these types of questions tend to have some hidden value.

It’s important to try and decipher what it is the interviewer is looking for. Even if you’re thrown off by a strange question, don’t let it show. Take a moment and think of a meaningful and appropriate answer. According to Business 2 Community, when 2,000 bosses were surveyed, 33% reported that they knew within the first 90 seconds if they’d hire the candidate or not.

See Also: How to Always Have the Answer to All Interview Questions 

There’s not necessarily a right or wrong answer to the following questions. It’s all about staying focused and not being thrown off by obscure questions. With that being said, interviewers will definitely want to see you think your way through each question, providing an insightful and thoughtful answer. If you encounter the following five questions, here’s how you can tackle them without looking like you’re confused.

1. You're President for a Day, What's the First Thing You Would Do?

Unless the job you’re applying for relates to politics, the interviewer will most likely not be looking for a deep political answer but rather how you would approach this strong leadership role and your views on common issues. Don’t be afraid to provide a lighthearted answer to a little humor and to showcase your bubbly personality.

If you don’t feel comfortable providing a fun answer, there are plenty of more serious routes you can take. Focus on some of the key issues that your country faces and which a lot of people will empathize with. A good example is a solution for better healthcare or education. This will not only show that you have strong leadership skills but also that you’re a problem-solver.

The interviewer will be looking for a creative and logical answer, so don’t get caught up in politics. Interviewers will have the same approach with questions like “If you were an animal, what would you be and why?” They’re simply-looking for a unique and analytical response. If you can relate your answer to an issue that needs to be addressed within your industry, that’s always a great route to take. Show that you’re involved and knowledgeable, and understand where improvements could be made.

2. Which Historical Figure Would You Invite to Dinner?

Who you look up to in terms of historical figures doesn’t really display your ability to do the job, but take a deep breath and understand how you can use this to your advantage. Although in reality you may think it’d be entertaining to have Elvis or Marilyn Monroe over, they may not be the best choices.

Whenever you are asked a question like this which appears to be totally unrelated to your potential position, make it about your position or industry – connecting your answer to the job you’ll need to perform is nothing but a bonus. Say you work as a graphic designer; it would be fitting to answer this question with someone like Andy Warhol and explain how his work could motivate and inspire you in the position being offered.

Think about individuals who made a difference in your industry or would have something valuable to teach you. Focus on what you could learn from this historical figure in terms of your career and how it would be a valuable experience to meet them.

3. Can You Tell Me a Joke?

Before wondering out loud if this question’s a joke itself, understand that the interviewer might be having a bad day and needs some cheering up, and that they’ll want to see if you can think on your feet. Also, many employers are looking for team players who have a good sense of humor. Although your qualifications and experience are critical, how you’ll jive with other employees is also important.

Just in case this question is asked, have a joke ready that’s clever, short, and sweet. Make sure that the joke isn’t in bad taste; you don’t want to offend anyone. Unless you’re applying to be a comedian, the interviewer will not depend on how funny your answer is to hire you, but rather on whether you can provide an appropriate answer that shows you’re a quick thinker.

Even if it’s a bit cheesy, stick with a joke that has a short delivery, such as a knock-knock joke. When you answer this question confidently, you’ll show the interviewer that you can handle a stressful situation and that you have great social skills.

4. How Many Fast Food Restaurants Are There Within the United States?

Believe it or not, people do get asked these types of questions in job interviews. You may also be asked how many planes fly over America each day or a number of other obscure questions relating to problem-solving. It’s important to recognize why an interviewer may be asking you a certain question, rather than how stupid it is and how you could possibly calculate such an answer.

For the most part, an interviewer is looking to see whether or not you can think aloud and come up with a rational answer. Don’t become overwhelmed and start blurting out answers that are just as dumb as the question itself. Break the question down and think of possible solutions.

For fast food restaurants, you could start by suggesting practical steps you could take in order to find the value in question. Perhaps you start by focusing on each state, researching the number of fast food owners that filed their taxes or are registered to their related association which, in this case, would be the National Restaurant Association.

Whether it’s the number of restaurants, airlines, or farms, understand that the interviewer is looking for strong problem-solving skills. If you get stuck, simply say something like “That’s an interesting question, why do you ask?” This will help you gain a little more time to formulate an answer or potentially shift the interviewer’s focus back onto you and what you can offer.

5. If You Were to Write a Book Based on Your Life, What Would You Call It?

This may throw you for a loop, but no need to stress. Although it may be challenging to summarize your life in one sentence, the interviewer will be focusing on how you view yourself. Also, it will be an opportunity to showcase something of importance based on your past experience. Whatever you select, make sure that you’re providing an answer that shows ambition, positivity and determination.

Once again, this is an opportunity to be creative. Like any weird question, you need to get to the bottom of what they’re asking. A similar question is “If you had to select a song that best described you, what would it be?” Go with something that’s intriguing and not overly arrogant. You want to provide an answer that clearly represents you as a person while showcasing your professional goals and/or accomplishments.

See Also: Words to Avoid Using in a Job Interview

There are hundreds of possible questions that you could be asked during an interview. Remember to stay focused and relate back to the position you’re applying for whenever possible. You’ll want to show that you’re the best person for the job and that you can think on your feet.

If a question appears to be random and overly strange, try to decipher what it is they’re looking for and provide an answer that reflects your skills and experience. Even if an odd question is asked, always reply with a smart and witty answer.

Have you encountered any strange interview questions? If so, how did you approach them?

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