Over the years, interview questions have become more complex, with big companies like Facebook, Amazon, Google and Tesla moving away from traditional interview questions and asking curveball questions like ‘how much pizza do Americans eat per year?’ instead.
Now, these questions aren’t designed to test your psychic abilities; instead, they are a perfect gateway to your creativity - or lack thereof! They are designed to catch you off guard and to get an honest answer from you, unlike your perfectly rehearsed speech on your biggest strengths and weaknesses, for example.
So, if you want to learn how to ace your interview and answer the top 10 creative interview questions out there, keep reading!
1. 'If you were an animal, what animal would you be and why?'
The trap: There are two reasons why interviewers ask this oddball question. The first is that they want to see how you react under pressure, and the second is so that they can see what type of qualities you have.
How to answer: The best way to tackle this question is to choose an animal that has qualities which relate to the job role. For example, if you’ll be working as part of a team, you should ideally lean towards an ant or an elephant, who are hardworking, intelligent and team players. On the other hand, if you’re applying for a managerial role, you could answer a lion or an eagle – they both have leadership qualities and can think on their feet. Essentially, it’s best to think of your answer logically instead of just blurting out your favourite animal – sorry cat lovers (they have a reputation of doing very little)!
2. 'If you could be a character in fiction, who would you be?'
The trap: This behavioural interview question is used to see how creative you are. It doesn’t matter what your answers is as long as it’s interesting and insightful into who you are as a person and how well you work with others in the workplace.
How to answer: Depending on the company that you are applying for, you could reply with a character that works in a similar industry. For example, if you’re interviewing for a job in fashion, you could say something like: ‘I would have to say Andrea Sachs from The Devil Wears Prada. Although she’s thrown into a tricky situation, she shows true strength of character and determination to succeed within her career – which are both qualities that I can relate to’.
3. 'If you were a car, what type would you be?'
The trap: Again, this question is used to determine how well you work under pressure. Do you tend to crumble and turn into a rabbit caught in headlights or can you enlighten the interviewing panel by showcasing a little bit of your personality?
How to answer: Although there is no right or wrong answer, you should take some time to apply it to the position or company that you’re applying for. For example, if you’re trying to become their new social media manager, you should reference a shiny and attractive car like a Jaguar – something that’s smart, fast and effective. However, if you’re trying to secure an accounting position, something safe and sturdy like an SUV would be applicable, whereas a Ferrari might be relevant to a job in a fast-paced environment that requires you to think on your feet.
4. 'What industry blogs/websites do you regularly read?'
The trap: This question is used to separate the professionals from those who are just applying for a job. For example, if you spend most of your time reading sites that are completely irrelevant to the position that you’re applying for, then the hiring manager will begin to question the strength of your application.
How to answer: Although you might have interests outside of your target industry, make sure that if you do choose to mention them they are beneficial in one way or another. For example, if you’re applying for an accounting role but are interested in fitness, you could mention how you read Women’s Health as it keeps you in good spirits and motivated, which in turn helps with your day-to-day duties. That said, prefer to mention an industry blog that is relevant to your career and that will show that you’re eager to know the latest happenings in your field. For example, travel experts would regularly read Travel + Leisure.
5. 'If you could wave a magic wand, what problem in the world would you solve and why?'
The trap: This unique job interview question is asked for two reasons; the first is because it acts as an ice-breaker, while the second is to identify what role you would play in the organisation.
How to answer: When answering this question, you can choose between two different angles. The first would be to select something that would directly impact the organisation like ‘equality and eliminating discrimination’; this will demonstrate that you’re a team player who will treat their peers equally. Or you could address a broader issue, such as survival of the human race and world peace, by explaining that you would eliminate all weapons of mass destruction for a more peaceful way of living.
6. 'Who would your intimate dinner guest be?'
The trap: The purpose of this question is so that the hiring manager can judge whether you can hold it together and think on your feet. There really is no right or wrong answer, and it definitely isn’t a trick question; it’s just to see if you will crumble under the tense silence or give them a little glimpse of your personality.
How to answer: The best way to tackle this increasingly popular interview question is to give a list of people from different walks of life – people that will bring something different to the table (mind the pun). For example, you could select Mahatma Gandhi because he led a non-violent movement. Or you could choose a controversial figure like Donald Trump who went from an entrepreneur to President of the United States. To add a balance to the mix, you could also add Mark Zuckerberg, because he was the first to change the world of social media and develop a new age of living. Alternatively, you can go with the option of listing inspirational people that are related to your industry. Let’s say you’re applying for a fashion job - you could list Karl Lagerfeld, Anna Wintour, Madonna and Audrey Hepburn.
7. 'We finish the interview, and you step outside the office and find a lottery ticket that ends up winning $10 million. What would you do?'
The trap: An interviewer will ask this question to indirectly find out about your motivation. Your answer will also show the interviewer if you’re working just for a paycheque or if you’re actually seeking a long-term career.
How to answer: Although you might be thinking ‘I’d quit my job and go on a year’s holiday’, try not to let it slip! Instead, talk about what you would do with the $10 million, whether you would be investing in property that will bring you a direct return, donating to charity, continuing higher education or saving for your children’s education. Your answer should show that you’d still want to work and advance the career ladder, regardless of whether you’ve won the lottery or not.
8. 'If you woke up and had 2,000 emails but could only answer 300, what would you do?'
The trap: Dropbox is well known for using this oddball interview question, and it’s a great way for hiring managers to analyse how potential hires will prioritise their work. A good answer is well thought-out and logical, with plenty of explanation on your thought process.
How to answer: If you’re super organised, you’ve probably already got filters in place to sift through your important emails, which would make for the perfect answer. In addition, you can also describe how you’d skim through the subject lines or email addresses and choose the emails based on client responses, emails to your boss and anything else that would be of significance.
9. 'How many windows are there in New York?'
The trap: This question is intended to judge your analytical thinking skills. The interviewer doesn’t expect you to know how many windows there actually are in New York – heck, they probably don’t even know themselves! Instead, they want to see how you will logically find the answer to this question.
How to answer: Rather than spurting out a random number, you should ask questions to help you identify the answer. For example, you could ask if it includes trains, cars, houses and buildings, then you could say something like: ‘Well, if we are just talking about buildings, and there are 700,000 buildings in New York, and they each have an average of 10 windows, that means that there are 7,000,000 windows in New York’.
10. 'How many tennis balls can fit into a limo?'
The trap: Similar to the above, this tough question is used to see if you can explain the key challenges to solving a complex problem. Following the previous example, you should break down your steps of finding the answer by explaining them to your interviewer.
How to answer: First, you will need to know the cubic inches of a limo and the volume of the tennis ball. Then you will need to divide the cubic measurements of the ball by the limo (taking into account seats), and you will have your answer. Just make sure you’re clear about your steps throughout your calculations so that the interviewer can see how you’re solving the problem.
As with all creative interview questions, you need to first understand the purpose of the question, and then answer it in a logical and inviting way – without forgetting to relate your answer back to the position you’re applying for (if you can).
Have you ever had to answer any odd interview questions? If so, join in on the conversation below and tell us how you went about answering them!