I once entered a job interview and wondered if I’d actually woken up at all that morning. As if the thought of sitting in front of a recruitment manager and telling them why they should pick me above all other candidates wasn’t enough, the sight of that very person lying face-down on the floor almost had me scarpering for the exit.
I didn’t, though. Instead, I sat down on the chair and considered my next move. The chap was still lying there, motionless. “Are you ok?” I cautioned, but no response.
See Also: How to Answer The Top 10 Interview Questions
Later, I discovered that this was an odd interview tactic. My prospective new boss was simply testing me. How would I react? Would I leap on him and try my best to resuscitate? Perhaps I’d run out. What if I just sat there and said nothing until he got bored of playing dead?
Interviews are stressful, fraught affairs for most of us. We go in prepared with answers and spend most of the time profusely sweating and forgetting everything we’d planned to say. That makes the thought of additional spanners being thrown into the works the stuff of nightmares.
It happens, though, and in this post I’ve got seven of the most peculiar job interview suggestions you’re likely to come across. Only, I hope, you don’t.
1. “Tell me a joke”
Now, hang on. You didn’t enter the interview room to do your best Chris Rock impression, did you? Oddly enough, this is quite a common question interviewers ask. They’re really asking ‘what kind of personality have you got? What makes you laugh?’. They’re sassing you out for your ability to fit in with the existing workforce.
There’s a simple way to answer this one - religiously rehearse a cheesy joke and keep it nestled at the back of your mind at all times. There’s no need to be clever, as that may irritate. “What do they call a fish that can swim at 100mph? A motorpike.” That kind of thing will work.
2. “Tell me what’s wrong with my office”
Ouch. This sounds a bit confrontational. Does she know that you’ve spotted the wonky picture frame on the back wall? Perhaps you elicited an air of disdain when you walked in and spotted the 1970s carpet.
This kind of interview suggestion is aimed at testing your ability to challenge the top brass. Have you got the guts to point out the carpet or that frame? And, if you have, how will you go about it? In such cases, it pays to be honest - to a point. Tell them their office is lovely, but you’d perhaps have picked a different colour of carpet for your own taste.
3. “Can you check over this proposal I’ve just put together, please?”
A potential banana skin, this one. Again, it is a test of your resolve and how capable you are of speaking your mind to managers. The likelihood is they’ve purposefully made an error they want you to spot. Equally, they may just want to see how you react to such an odd request.
It pays to go along with this kind of suggestion, and take your time reading through. You’ll be nervous, but look for obvious mistakes and ask questions if something doesn’t make sense. They’ll value you for being honest.
4. “Dance for me”
We’re in super-peculiar territory now. There really are only two ways to react to this: if you happen to be blessed with Travolta-esque moves and are something of an extravert - go for it. Your personality will shine through.
Not a dancer? Don’t embarrass yourself. Tell the interviewer you wouldn’t want to put them through that. If they insist, it’s time to leave.
5. “Let’s not bother doing it in this office. Fancy a spot of bowling?”
You’re likely to hear this kind of suggestion if you go for an interview at a small company. Corporate recruitment managers, generally speaking, are fairly straight-laced, but small business owners and startup entrepreneurs may genuinely want to make something more of the interview process.
Providing they haven’t suggested a walk late at night through the local forest, go for it and treat it as good news; work-life balance is clearly high on their agenda.
6. “Here’s the key to my Jaguar. Take her for a spin”
Never been asked this one? I know someone who has. He did just that; after a brief, confused pause, my friend shrugged, thanked his interviewer, grabbed the keys and took the car around a few blocks. When he returned, he was praised: “Thank you for not stealing it,” said the interviewer, tongue firmly in cheek.
You’ll perhaps come across this kind of interview suggestion once in a lifetime, if you’re lucky, but it’s another test of your resolve and a demonstration of the interviewer’s level of trust. If anything, it’s a great sign that it could be a fantastic company to work for.
7. “I’ve got to pop out for an hour. Could you look after my desk?”
Yikes. You’re at a job interview, so the last thing you expect to be dealt is the manager’s desk for an hour. What to do?
In reality, what’s the worst that can happen? Say she does disappear for an hour - the phone may ring, but you can simply take a message. If the secretary comes in and asks what you’ve done with their manager, you can tell them the honest truth (they’re probably used to it). Politely agree, and remind her it’ll be in safe hands.
8. “You look like a guy who knows about Inbox Zero”
Inbox what? The subject of productivity is high on most business agendas, and the ability to keep one’s email inbox up-to-date and clear of distractions is becoming common place. There’s a name for this practice, and that’s ‘Inbox Zero’, so make sure you read up on similarly whacky-named productivity techniques before any job interview.
There you have it - some of the strangest interview suggestions you’re likely to come across during your career. They can spring out of nowhere and the way in which you react to them will either make or break your chances.
If there’s one piece of advice I can offer for when you find yourself in any of the situations above, it is this: take time to think through your response. Most interview mistakes are made by people jumping in too quickly with a witty retort or ill-thought quip.
All of the above examples share a common theme - there’s an easy answer. Play it cool, simple and be yourself. Put on an act, and you’ll find yourself having to live up to that persona for the duration of the employment if you’re successful.