We’ve all been there. You’re in an interview, expecting to be asked intelligent questions so you can show off your excellent preparation that you spent the past three days doing, and all-night rehearsing to deliver the perfect answer. But all of a sudden, you get a question so stupid that it throws you off guard and your confidence is blown out the window; you’re now left feeling frazzled about how to answer this silly question.
It’s important to remember that the interviewer is likely looking for someone who can solve problems, who has good interpersonal skills and the ability to get things done using good judgment and effectiveness.
With that in mind, here are some smart answers to stupid interview questions that may otherwise seem irrelevant:
1. 'What don’t you like about your current job?'
Assuming that you are still employed by the company that are you are looking to leave, hiring managers are likely to ask this ridiculous question. Like you would actually tell them that your boss is a sexist a**hole and you want to get out of there ASAP! Employers are trying to catch you out here to see if you would speak negatively about your employer because if you can talk sh*t about them, it’s likely that you’ll do the same with any organisation.
The key here is to choose an answer that will show your dedication to progress in your career. You could either go down the route of a “career change”. Or, you could say something like “I feel like the role is not challenging enough and I would like to progress. Unfortunately, my current company doesn’t allow much room for progression which is why I am looking elsewhere to further develop my skills and take on new and exciting challenges.”
2. 'What do you dread about your work?'
Who are we kidding? There’s something that everyone dreads about work, whether it’s the early morning rise, micromanaging boss, irritating colleague or the office politics. Yet, now isn’t the time to delve into your deepest and darkest thoughts with a potential employer. Hiring managers throw this curve-ball your way to see if you are indeed an honest person.
The best way to answer this question is to choose something that bothered you but also show what steps you took to overcome that feeling of dread and how you have turned it into a positive. You could say something like “I used to dread our hour long (sometimes two) staff meetings that would keep me away from getting work done at my desk. I’ve learnt to get involved and make short and quick statements within the meeting and have noticed that others have started to follow suit. It’s actually turned into a really productive meeting, with team-members bouncing ideas off each other. Even though people can occasionally be long-winded, I’ve discovered that I can glean valuable information about what’s going on in the rest of the company.”
3. 'What was your first love?'
Although this is a dumb way to ask about your passion; this is essentially what employers want to know. Don’t start going into any dramas about your personal life – this is strictly business!
The best way to answer this question is to give an example of when you discovered your passion. If you’re interviewing for a position at a fashion label, you could say something like “I first realized that my true love lay in fashion when I was just a teen scrolling through copies of Vogue that my mum had stacked on the coffee table. Since then, I have kept cuttings in a scrapbook of looks and designers that I love. It’s quite amusing to see how styles from my childhood days have come full-circle, and I now have inspiration to design custom pieces from the dated scrapbooks.”
4. 'Are you planning on having children?'
Employers should know better than to ask a question like this as it’s leaning on the discrimination side, yet some still can’t resist being a little nosey. The aim of this question is to find out if you’re married and if you plan to have a family. They essentially want to see how dedicated you will be to your job.
If you still don’t have children, you should say “not at the moment”, explain how you want to travel/ develop your career (whatever your reason may be for not starting a family.) If you do have children, make it clear that you have child care and it doesn’t affect your working life or your dedication to your career.
5. 'What does your partner do?'
Again, this is none of their business, especially at the interview stage. Yet, employers want to understand a bit more of your work-life balance and to get a feel for your personal life. It may also be to determine if you have a family to support and may demand a pay-rise in a year or two.
There’s no harm in being honest. You can keep the answer as vague or detailed as you want it to be. Just make sure you’re comfortable in answering this question. If you aren’t you can throw back a question like “are you asking because you’re worried about my daily commute, or if there is a relocation opportunity?” by asking a question in return it’ll help you figure out the reason for the question.
6. 'What’s the colour of success?'
This is another hard-to-believe-they-ask-this question, yet it’s used in interviews to decide whether a candidate can think on their feet and use their imagination.
According to Forbes you could say: “Green, the colour of money, because it would mean our business is highly profitable. Or if you’re interviewing at a nonprofit or marketing firm you could say, red, because I want to make an impact.”
7. 'Why should we hire you over other applicants?'
This is one of the most ridiculous questions; it’s not like your best buds with your competition and know what their strengths and weaknesses are. The hiring manager is testing you with this question to see how much you want it and how you can “sell yourself”.
Ignore the other candidates and tell them what you can bring to the table. You could say something along the lines of “from what I understand you are looking for a candidate you can do X Y and Z which sounds a lot like what I did at my previous company. I don’t personally know the other candidates but I have the dedication and passion that’s right for this position and company.”
8. 'How would you describe yourself in three words?'
Although this is a common interview question, many candidates fall into the trap of giving a cliché answer like “driven”, “team-player”, “results-oriented”, “innovative”, “problem-solver”.
Here is your chance to give solid proof of why you are any of the above things. Andrew Pullman, head of HR at Dresdner Bank said: “think of something edgy – maybe something about how you push yourself and the people around you beyond what’s expected. Saying you’re detail-oriented is also good, but follow it up with specific examples.”
9. 'You are stranded on a desert island and can only take three items with you – what would they be?'
You might be wondering if you’ve landed on a Tinder date, rather than a professional interview. Yet, some employers ask this question to get an insight into your personality.
Although you might be thinking ‘an unlimited supply of booze and Doritos’, refrain from giving that answer. Your potential boss wants to see that you are smart, have good judgement and can contribute to ideas. You could answer something like “a water purifier, endless supply of matches and a good book”. Depending on the industry you’re applying for, you can tailor it to show you’re thought process and favourite items.
10. 'What would you like me to know about you that’s not on your CV?'
You’re probably thinking - ‘well nothing that’s why I didn’t put it on my CV dumb*ss!’ but seen as you would have read this article you’ll know how to fight back with a brilliant answer.
Use something that your previous employers praised you about. It could be something like “you are always happy and are a positive person to be around, which has a great effect on the rest of the team and encourages them to work harder and do better too.” Or that “you like collaborating and working with others”. Whatever you choose, share a story about how your skills and attitude made a difference in the workplace.
11. 'How honest are you?'
Is this question for real? No one in their right mind will confess that they sometimes tell a little white lie or a load of big ones (hopefully that’s not you).
Inc suggests that you “give a straightforward statement of your high ethical standards, and offer your references as backup”. A good example would be if you ever got overpaid by the company and brought it to their attention.
12. 'What was your salary at your last job?'
Are you squirming in your seat? You probably weren’t prepared to discuss money, and you don’t want to give an amount that’s too high and blow your chances of getting the job. On the other hand, you don’t want to sell yourself short either.
The good news is that you don’t actually have to answer this question – unless you do have a figure that you are aiming for. You could fire it back in their direction and say: “I’m currently looking for jobs with an annual salary of around X amount. Does that correspond with your salary range?”
13. 'What kind of animal would you be and why?'
This question will also leave you dumbfounded - unless you’re applying to be part of a circus act. But, employers still ask this question to see how you portray yourself.
Although you’ve had enough and are considering exiting from the nearest door; bear through it (no pun intended). Choose an animal that is powerful; like a lion or a tiger and explain how you are a strong leader.
14. 'What’s your favourite movie?'
This question has no relevance to your skills or the job itself. Being a good culture fit is just as important as possessing the right skills for the job. They just simply want to find out a little about your interests and if you have anything in common.
Simply be honest but wise with this one. Choose a film that either has relevance to the industry or shows qualities that you can relate to. For example, if you’re applying for a role in fashion, publishing or marketing a good example would be “the Devil Wears Prada” or “The Intern”.
15. 'How badly do you want this job?'
This isn’t your opportunity to get on your knees and beg. Answering this question can be tricky; you don’t want to come across as desperate, or not that interested either.
Say how confident you are that you would be an asset to the organisation. You can voice your enthusiasm and passion for the company or position and reassert your eagerness to move forward in their hiring process.
There’s no doubt that hiring managers will think of even more stupid questions to throw your way, the main thing is to remain confident, smile and take your time when answering oddball questions. Pullman says “you’re trying to see the person, not the profile”, so go out there and make your personality shine!
Have you been asked any other dumb questions during an interview before? Let us know your answer in the comment section below…