There are numerous interview questions, but I’m willing to bet that you have never practiced your answer to the question ‘What would you do if you won the lottery?’
If you are here because you’ve been asked this at a recent interview and were stumped, or you’ve heard about it and you’re wondering how to answer such a seemingly unrelated question, then let us help you out and make sure you’re ready for your next interview.
Why hiring managers ask this question
This might seem like a peculiar thing to ask in the middle of a serious interview but there is good reason why hiring managers ask this question.
Your answer gives a lot of insight into your personality. Talking about what you would do if you had an abundance of money allows the recruiter to understand you and your values better and determine whether you would be a good fit in their team.
However, this question may not be as tricky to answer as you think. The interviewer is not interested in what car you’ll buy, or whether you’ll install a swimming pool or a home cinema in your house. They want to know more about your commitments and motivations. Are you the sort of person who is committed to a cause and really cares about their career, or is making money your only objective when it comes to your job?
How to craft a response
You need to give your answer some thought. You want to make the right impression about your commitment to the role and the company.
Career coaches often use this question on clients who are unsure what they want to do in their career, because it really allows them to think about what is important to them when money isn’t a factor.
Giving some genuine thought to the answer in advance will help you during your interview but may also allow you to have a clearer image of your career goals overall. Here are some top tips to consider when crafting a response:
1. Be authentic
This is your chance to let the interviewer know what’s important to you. Be honest about what drives you and engages you, and what causes you would support.
You can say that you would take some time out to travel or volunteer for a cause that you’re passionate about but find a way to link your answer to your career as well, showing that you would still be committed to it, regardless of if you got your hands on a ton of cash.
Be careful not to make big claims like ‘money isn’t important to me’ in an effort to impress the employer. They will see straight through your answer if it is not sincere.
2. Show your interests
This question makes a great opportunity for you to talk about your passions. If you have a hobby or interest that you would invest in, this will highlight your dedication to things you care about.
Maybe you have always wanted to visit a certain country, or learn a new skill? Perhaps you have a passion for something like sailing, and the money would allow you to buy your own boat and equipment. Maybe you love football, and a lottery win will allow you to sponsor your favorite team. These are excellent examples that will provide the hiring manager with some details about you and your motivations.
3. See the bigger picture
Try not to just focus on the now when constructing an answer. Think about steps you would take that would impact your future in a positive way. Consider the ways winning the lottery could change your life and how you would manage that. You could mention that you would put the win towards your savings or look into investing a sum so it would benefit you more in the long run.
You could also emphasize that you would keep a low profile so there is minimal disruption to your current life, if that’s your aim. This shows the interviewer that you are not impulsive with your decisions and that you are able to think ahead, which is an admirable quality for an employee to have.
4. Show your desire to help others
Part of your answer could address how you would use the money to help others. This could include helping friends and family or supporting a cause that is important to you. That said, it’s vital that your answer should be genuine and honest.
If there is an organisation that has impacted your life in a positive manner, you can mention why you want to give back to them. When answering this question, it’s important that you consider how the money could be used in a way to benefit others, rather than just spending it on material possessions. Again, this could indicate that you are a caring and generous person that would work well within a team.
5. Think about growth
Showing that you are committed to your personal growth and development is very desirable.
Mentioning some form of continued learning as a result of having more funds will look good to an employer. The development opportunity you choose may be related to your career, but it could also be a commitment to expand your knowledge in other areas of interest.
Being an agile learner who is always willing to develop their knowledge and invest in their skills is an important quality, so be sure to illustrate how winning the lottery would allow you to pursue more educational opportunities.
6. Mention how it would relieve stress
A valuable response to the lottery question is demonstrating how a lottery win could mean having more time to do more of what is important to you, without the stress that comes with having to make a living.
Instead, it could help you refocus and do your job for the love of it, rather than in an effort to make money which can ultimately take the enjoyment out of it. Be careful how you approach this, however; you don’t want recruiters to think that you are unable to manage your finances or that the only reason you do your job is for money’s sake.
7. Paint a vision
An employer isn’t naïve enough to think that if you won the lottery you might stay in the role you’re applying for forever, especially if the role is a steppingstone in your career.
That said, showing that you would still be devoted to your career is worthwhile. For example, if you are going for a role as a veterinary assistant, you could say that you would use the money to go back to college to become a veterinarian. This shows that you have a vision for the future, are passionate about your career path and have ambition to progress.
In case you are still unsure about how to answer this question, consider these example responses and use them as inspiration when crafting your own.
1. Advancing your education and development
Education is very important to me. I believe that I have gotten where I am partly through my desire to learn more and gain new qualifications.
Having more money would mean I could continue to do this, instead of worrying about the cost of each course and whether I really ‘need’ to do it to advance my career. I could continue to learn for fun, and I would also have the means to invest further in my children’s education without any financial burden.
2. Being devoted to your career without financial stress
Winning the lottery would relieve me from financial stress in my life. I would be able to work for the love of what I do and support causes that are important to me, without worrying about needing to have a steady income.
I feel purposeful through my work and being able to continue doing it while having financial freedom would allow me to devote myself to this role without external worries.
3. Investing your money for long-term stability
I have always been interested in investing but was weary about being able to afford it and nervous about taking a risk.
Winning the lottery would give me the means to learn more about investing in the stock market and building an investment portfolio. This in turn will allow me to be wiser with my income and save up in the long run. By having this financial stability, I would also have the funds to support causes that are important to me, and to help my friends and family.
Whilst this might seem like a very strange interview question, your answer will say a lot about you.
In an interview, it’s a great way to show off your values and what is important to you, demonstrate your commitment to different causes and show your dedication toward your career and development.
So, make sure to take the time to think about your answer to this question in advance, as this will be highly beneficial during your interview.
Join the discussion! Have you ever been asked this interview question? How did you respond? Let us know in the comments section below.
This article is an updated version of an earlier article originally published on 9 July 2014.