13 bizarre job interview questions – and how to answer them


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The mere thought of a job interview can make even the most confident potential employee nervous. It all depends on how you answer seemingly random questions asked by people you may never have met before.

Will they dig into the technical aspects of the job, making you wish for a calculator and cheat sheet? Do they prefer those old cliché questions like “What’s your biggest weakness?” Or do your interviewers subscribe to the school of wacky logic questions, like “Explain why the manholes are round”?

You can’t buy a SAT prep book to prepare for a job interview, but here are some of the more difficult job interview questions, along with tips on how to answer them graciously, without going into a chorus of “Take This Job and Shove It. “

1. How weird are you?

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Online shoe and clothing retailer Zappos is known to pose real challenges for job applicants. The late Tony Hsieh, who was the CEO of the company, would have liked to ask candidates, “On a scale of 1 to 10, how weird are you?

Tips: This is one of those unanswered questions. Interviewers are probably looking to see if you can think on your feet and come up with a decent response from the top of your head. They also want to know how you would fit into their culture. One of Zappos’ core values ​​is: “Create fun and a little weirdness”.

2. Sell me this pencil

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The Monster.com job site identifies “Sell Me That Pencil” as a job interview challenge that those looking for sales jobs sometimes face. It makes sense – we’ve all met natural salespeople, and activating that kind of charm in an interview can reveal if you’re one of them.

Tips: Your interviewer seeks confidence, so avoid stammering or walking away when looking for uses for the writing instrument. The best sellers know that you first have to ask a lot of questions of a potential buyer to determine if they need the product they are selling.

3. Why are the manhole covers round?

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It’s a cliché interview question, but that doesn’t mean an interviewer won’t throw it at you: “Why are manhole covers round?”

While not all employers use this kind of question, you don’t want to be caught off guard if they do.

Tips: The most common answer is that the blanket won’t fall in the hole, but if you can argue for a different answer, go for it. It can be as simple as redefining the matter – emphasizing that manhole covers have to fit into a manhole, and in this country, at least, manholes are usually round.

4. What are you most passionate about?

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Another question is to ask applicants to explain what they are most passionate about. It’s a cliché, but it’s widely used, so be prepared.

Tips: Your answer does not need to be related to your career field. If you brew beer at home, explain how it is done. If you breed pugs or play fantasy football or know all the best tips for collecting frequent flyer miles, this could be your answer. Your interviewer probably wants to see how well you explain yourself, how you view the process, and how you deal with ambiguity – all essential skills in the workplace.

5. The water cup challenge

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This is not a question but a hidden challenge. An interviewer might bring you a disposable cup of water to drink. It sounds like a simple act of hospitality, but you can be under observation to see if you clean up after yourself and throw the cup away when you’re done.

Tips: Just like those signs in office break rooms say, your mom doesn’t work here. (And even if she did, it’s not her job.) Recall the cut example to remind yourself that crafty interviewers can monitor anything you do, even if it doesn’t seem directly related to the position for which you are applying.

6. Why shouldn’t I hire you?

Employer looking for curriculum vitae
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You sit there explaining to the employer why they should hire you – and you’re faced with the reverse question: some managers ask why they shouldn’t hire you. Ugh, nice curved ball. Be ready to take off.

Tips: A similar question some interviewers like to ask is, “What would your enemy say about you?” »Think about the position you want. If you’re never going to have to make sales calls, it won’t hurt to admit that you aren’t a door-to-door salesperson at heart. But salespeople also come with a natural enthusiasm for their product or business, so be sure to find a way to show you have it.

7. Where to eat?

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Mike O’Neill, CEO of music rights company BMI, asked job applicants to choose the restaurant where their interview will be held. He wants to see if they’re trying to impress or please the prospective future boss, or if they honestly choose a place they like.

Tips: O’Neill likes honesty to be on the menu as part of his restaurant test. He notes that he loves it when contestants admit that the choice of restaurant made them nervous – there’s no such thing as frankness, even if that makes the contestant less than perfect. We would avoid both ends of the budget spectrum – neither fast food outlets nor four star restaurants. Go for something eclectic, yet reliable, like you!

8. Are you smart or are you working hard?

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Another proven interview question is: what would you say that is most true to you, that you are smart or that you work hard?

We think most applicants mean they are both, but imagine you have to choose.

Tips: Some bosses think hard work, presentation, diligence, and consistency matter more than the brain. Whatever you say, don’t explain that your intelligence means you don’t have to work hard. Humility matters a lot in the workplace.

9. Where does your boss think you are right now?

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Making the time for a job interview when you’re still an employee can be difficult. It can suddenly get much more difficult if the person you’re talking to asks where your current boss thinks you are right at the moment. Uh, busted?

Tips: The interviewer probably wants to know how you treat your current boss as a sign of how you will treat your boss in a new business. Be honest but tactful. Of course, you may not have made it clear to your current boss that you are going for an interview, but make it clear that you are not taking the time you are not entitled to and that of course you will end up. all the work needed. done while you were outside.

10. How many golf balls can a school bus hold?

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Some interviewers appreciate the bizarre logic of questions such as “How many tennis balls can you put in a limo?” Or “How many golf balls can a school bus hold?” “

Tips: You don’t need to get the right answer – no one knows the answer anyway. What interviewers want here is to see how you walk them through whatever method you use to attempt a solution, job search site The Muse explains. Talk about the size of the bus and the size of the golf balls, and be sure to think about the odd parts of the problem, like the space needed for the seats on the bus. Even a non-golfer can get started on this one.

11. Do you prefer to fight 1 duck the size of a horse or 100 horses the size of a duck?

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This is another one of those inane questions meant not to get a precise answer but to see how you think on your feet: Would you rather fight a duck the size of a horse or 100 horses the size of a duck? ?

Tips: Don’t whine, you can get it. Chances are the interviewer wants to know if you can balance under pressure and how you are going to solve a problem to solve it. Like the golf balls in the school bus question, there is no right answer. And unlike this one, it requires less knowledge about sizes and spatial awareness and relies more on creativity. Think about the pros and cons of each battle, then go for it.

12. How did you solve difficult problems?

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Elon Musk, founder and CEO of electric motor company Tesla, CEO of SpaceX and richest person in the world, said he asked candidates, “Tell me about some of the most difficult issues you’ve worked on. and how you solved them. “While he may want to hear the answer, that’s another tricky interview question.

Tips: The question might not be bizarre, but Musk’s motive is unusual. CNBC explains that he asks her to track down liars. “The people who really solved the problem know exactly how they solved it, ”Musk said. “They know and can describe the little details.”

13. What condition would you get rid of?

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Another question you might run into in a job interview is, “If you were to get rid of a US state, which state would it be and why?” “

It’s somewhat reminiscent of the “Simpsons,” when Grandpa wrote to the President of the United States to push for the elimination of three states. “There are too many states these days,” he growls, adding, ‘PS I’m not a nutcase.

Tips: This is another wacky question that tests how your thought process works. Be aware: it can also reveal a lot about you and your values. Maybe you would start with Alaska or Hawaii for the convenience of distance. You could think outside the box and suggest combining two similar states, like North Dakota and South Dakota, into one. Really, any thoughtful answer should be fine, but don’t bring politics or a weird personal grudge against, say, Rhode Island, into the picture.

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