You know the ones I’m talking about: when employers ask you to name four different uses for a paper clip, what kind of animal you would be, or how much a taxi driver in Chicago makes in tips on a Tuesday night. The key to answering these questions lies in being able to understand why the employer is asking you these questions in the first place.
Are you a creative thinker? When you’re asked to explain what you would create with a brick, a banana, a cotton ball, and other materials of your choice, the employer is most likely trying to gauge if you can think outside of the box or not. There is no “right” answer to these types of questions. Instead, there are more creative and less creative responses. Don’t feel pressure to answer these questions right away. Asking for a minute to brainstorm is completely acceptable in these scenarios, especially if it lends you to being able to give a more creative response.
How do you think through a problem? When you’re asked how much money a taxi driver makes on a given night in a given location, employers are trying to get a better understanding of your problem solving skills. To answer these questions, explain to the employer your thought process involved in arriving at your answer. The process you use to get there is much more important than the actual number.
What are your personality characteristics and values? If you’re asked to describe what you would do if you won the lottery or what kind of animal you would be if you had to be an animal, the employer is likely trying to get a better understanding of who you are as a person without asking direct questions.
In answering all of these unusual questions, it’s important to remember that you are allowed to think through your responses before you give them. Do not feel rushed to give an answer immediately! Employers understand that you did not prepare for or anticipate these questions before the interview.
And lastly, always explain your thought process. If you have some great thoughts and ideas but can’t necessarily translate them into an ideal answer, that’s okay! An employer will still be able to see that you can reason, think creatively, or do whatever it is that he’s looking for.
What’s the strangest question you’ve been asked in an interview? Feel free to comment below.