“Where do you see yourself in five years?” What are your greatest weaknesses?” ‘Why do you want to work here?” We’ve all heard these questions plenty of times in job interviews. And while they are annoying, we are usually prepared to answer them. However, a question we may not be ready for could be, “What do you think of garden gnomes?” or “Name 10 things you could do with a pencil besides writing.” But these are actually real questions used in interviews, according to Highest Paying Careers.org and Yahoo! Finance.
Within the last ten to fifteen years, some strange and different interview questions have come into use among job interviewers around the world. Some of these questions sound like “pop” quizzes from magazines, some sound like a psychiatric evaluation, some appear to be logical, and some don’t make much sense at all. In fact, a recent survey found that two out of five candidates had been asked a ‘weird’ question in their interview.
SO, WHY DO EMPLOYERS ASK SUCH QUESTIONS?
The logic behind the madness: These sort of “out there” questions are not the sort you can prepare for. But that’s why they’re asking it. These off-the-wall questions are designed to make you think, think creatively and quickly, and tap into your inner resources and personality components. Often, employers just want to gauge your personality to see if you’re a good fit for their company and see the way you’d approach a problem that, on the surface, seems crazy. They want you to show willingness to adapt and think on the spot – you’d be surprised how many people can’t.
How to respond: No matter how weird you think the question is, you need to try and be creative and answer the question. It’s ok to express some surprise, ‘I wasn’t expecting that, let me think’ – but you do need to offer a response. Showing a sense of humour can help – in fact, this type of questioning may even help you to relax.
Your answer will provide insight into your problem solving abilities among other things, so be enthusiastic, creative and enjoy the challenge. Your ability to think on your feet, be spontaneous and deal with tricky situations is important, and this opportunity could potentially have more impact than any other question. The key is to take your time to think about the question and why they might be asking it. How can it relate to the company or technical know-how? Or is it just there to test your personality and creativity? Apply a reasonable rationale to your answer and your efforts will be recognized.
Here are some examples of questions you could face and how you might answer them:
Who is your favourite movie character?
Your friends may have a nickname for you, but is this the kind of workplace personality you want to project? Think of characters that have qualities employers are looking for, whether it’s someone who is heroic (Superman), a champion (Rocky), an inventor, etc. Avoid picking the villain and don’t pick an obscure film that no one knows.
If you were a tree, what kind would you be and why?
Think about what impression and strengths different trees have. What qualities would an employer like to you to possess. Pick a tree that represents those qualities and give your reason. For example, an oak tree is strong and mighty. A willow tree is weepy? Who would an employer rather hire?
If you were a Microsoft Office program which would you be?
While based on a common office tool, this question can reflect a lot about you, your personality and how you like to work. Access might suggest excellent organization, Outlook that you are a communicator and enjoy interacting with colleagues and customers, and PowerPoint might infer that you understand the world through visual impact and making bold statements.
The important thing to remember with weird interview questions is that they are just one part of the process. Embrace them as an opportunity to expand on your potential beyond your resume and traditional interview questions and show your more creative side.