A 2014 study by Foosle found that over half of the employers they surveyed used ‘curveball’ interview questions to uncover a host of skills and attributes. (The study also found that male interviewers were more likely to use this technique than female ones).Tech companies in particular have a reputation for using bizarre interview techniques – but they are by no means alone. A recent survey by the Association of Accounting Technicians, which quizzed 2,000 adults on the questions they were asked by their interviewers, has shown that even accountants are given the same treatment. Read on for a glimpse of some of the questions (my top 10) unearthed by the study – they range from the comical to the surreal.
- Is a Jaffa Cake a cake or a biscuit?
- Are you a Corrie or an EastEnders fan?
- Who is your favourite Doctor Who?
- What would you do if the sun died out?
- Who would win in a fight: Superman or Batman?
- Was the book Frankenstein really about State control?
- Please do an improvisation of a film.
- How do you feel about blood sports?
- Do you like to sing in the bath?
- Build a tower of paper cups in one minute that would not fall down when you put water in the top cup.
The takeaway: there is method in the madness
If your initial response to these questions is “And your point is…?” you’re not alone. These googlies, these “curveballs” would be enough to have me scratching my head all the way into next year. So, I’m now grateful for all the extremely tough interview questions I have ever been asked – at least they were all relevant and related to my experience and employment history. Today, candidates have to expect the unexpected.
There is method in the madness of these questions, according to Alistair Rennie, the managing director at job website Foosle, as he suggests in his article for The Guardian. According to Rennie, these questions are designed to test traits such as flexibility, creativity and logical thinking. Interviewers are not expecting candidates to have ‘the right answer’ (phew!); they are, however, seeking an insight into a candidate’s thought process and how they articulate their responses.
Where to go from here
As it’s pretty much impossible to know which questions you will be asked during an interview, it’s important to expect the unexpected. And the good news is that there are ways to be prepared for ‘curveball’ questions: the aforementioned Foosle has devised an ingenious Curveball Question Generator which will fire a range of curveball questions at you to help you get used to “thinking on your feet.”
It’s worth having a go, not least to test your own reactions. If you do use the question generator, please let me know what you think about it. Moreover, if you’ve been on the wrong end of interview curveballs, why not share the questions with our readers? I’m sure they’d love to know the questions you were asked – and the more bizarre the questions, the better.