You may have heard about and prepared for the most common interview questions out there, but what about the wild cards? That is, the unexpected and, at times, bizarre questions that recruiters like to throw at you to gauge your reaction and see how well you think on your feet. Of course, we can’t predict exactly which out-of-the-box questions you’ll be asked during your next interview, but we can give you some great examples--some from a recent list compiled by Glassdoor.com--and some advice for answering well under pressure.
1. Sell me this pen
Interviewing for a sales position? Chances are, the hiring manager will want to see your sales prowess in action. He or she may ask you to sell them a banal object sitting on their desk--a pen, a paperclip, a paperweight, a paper cup--in order to gauge your abilities. And no, this doesn’t just happen in movies. The trick is to respond with confidence, having brainstormed and practiced this exercise before going to the interview. Show creativity and confidence in your approach and you’ll be sure to impress the recruiter.
2. What did you have for breakfast?
This could be a simple icebreaker, or the interviewer could be probing for some answers on cultural fit or lifestyle choices. Or they just want to hear you describe a recent experience. In any case, the trick is to use rich descriptors and not to be boring. Don’t just say, “cereal.” Tell them which one and why you love it. If you’re a health nut, describe each smoothie ingredient and its nutritional benefit--the interviewer may learn something after all!
3. Describe the color yellow to someone who can’t see.
This question tests the limits of your vocabulary and your ability to communicate sensitively. Don’t underestimate the importance of either item. To answer effectively, use descriptors that fall into the four senses that the person can experience--touch, smell, sound, taste. Use rich vocabulary that conveys your emotional and creative side.
4. How would you hide a dead body?
We sincerely hope that you don’t have any practical experience that would render you an expert in this field. So how to answer well without sounding like a sociopath? Firstly, take the question for what it is--we hope--a metaphor for your ability to think quickly and clearly under pressure. You can start by assuring the recruiter that while you’ve never had to hide a body, you have experience cleaning up messes at work, and then go on to describe a specific example of a situation you have fixed or turned around.
5. Who would win in a fight between Batman and Spiderman?
Batman, duh! But seriously, your answer to this question is not what really matters. What matters here is your ability to make a decision and to defend it, and to show your analytical skills in action. Your creativity and sense of humor could also be tested here--the trick is to answer seriously despite the rather abstract and fanciful nature of the question. You want to show that you don’t take yourself too seriously, and that you can excel at play as well as work.
6. If there were a machine that produced $100 bills for life, what would you be willing to pay for it today?
This question assesses your math skills--how quickly you can calculate a tangible figure--as well as your strategic capabilities, willingness to take risks, and long- term vision. Any question that asks you to calculate around an absurd-sounding situation is essentially doing the same.
7. If you were shrunk to the size of a pencil and dropped in a blender, how would you get out?
Good luck with this one--we have no idea. In all seriousness, this is another behavior based interview question, similar to the dead body question in its level of absurdity. The interviewer is simply assessing your ability to think and act under extreme pressure. Think of any answer--the more creative the better--but be prepared to then share one or two real life examples of how you have overcome challenging situations with little help or resources.
8. What is your spirit animal?
Imagine the difference in the interviewer’s perception of you as an octopus and of you as an anteater. The truth is, it’s not your answer that really counts, although you should avoid obvious clichés, like saying you’re a shark or a bulldog for sales positions. What counts is your explanation of how you chose your spirit animal. It’s a creative way of telling them about your personality, and this question is all about cultural fit.