The 20 Most Oddball Interview Questions of the Year
If you were a pizza delivery man, how would you benefit from scissors?
Don’t sweat it if you’re stumped. You’ll probably never have to answer this question–unless you apply for a job at Apple. A candidate there was faced with this zinger in a job interview recently, and now it’s considered one of the most bizarre interview questions of the year.
Glassdoor.com, an online jobs and career community where people share information about their workplaces, sifted through tens of thousands of interview questions to find the 20 most oddball queries that job candidates were asked over the past 12 months.
It turns out that job seekers shouldn’t prepare only for common interview questions like “What are your strengths?” and “What are your weaknesses?” They should anticipate less conventional queries, too. For instance, one candidate was challenged describe the process and benefits of wearing a seatbelt, and another was asked what color they’d be if they were a crayon.
In such an event, don’t fret about trying to come up with the most brilliant answer on the spot. Instead, use the opportunity to demonstrate your thought process, to communicate your values and character, and to show the prospective employer how you perform under pressure.
In Pictures: 20 Oddball Interview Questions
“Employers are looking to understand how candidates think, how they process and approach difficult brainteaser questions, and how candidates think on their feet when in a stressful situation,” says Samantha Zupan, a spokesperson for Glassdoor. “For tough or oddball interview questions, it’s not always about getting the right answers, it’s about how you tackle a challenging problem. When faced with tough questions like these, take a deep breath, slow down, and then sound out your thinking process aloud, and walk the interviewer through how you get to an answer.”
It’s difficult to prepare for oddball questions like, “If there was a movie produced about your life, who would play you and why?” or “Can you instruct someone how to make an origami ‘cootie catcher’ with just words?”—but if you do your homework and know the company’s products and services, culture and values, you can weave that knowledge into your answers.
However, some questions are definitely more perplexing than others. A candidate at Bed Bath & Beyond was asked, “If you were a box of cereal, what would you be and why?” while McKinsey & Company wanted to know, “If you were 80 years old, what would you tell your children?”
“If you don’t understand the question or not sure how the question applies to the job and the company, politely ask a question in return to get some clarification,” Zupan says. “For example, a response could be, “to help me better address your question, could you provide more detail as to how the problem relates to how problems are solved here?’” You have to ask this delicately, though, as you don’t want the interviewer to think you are being defensive or want to duck the question, she adds. “The question may be really about how fast you think on your feet, if you stress out, or how much courage you have.”
The bottom line is that the employer doesn’t expect you to know how many square feet of pizza are eaten in the U.S. each year (asked by Goldman Sachs) or how many snow shovels were sold in the U.S. last year (asked by TASER), but they will be pleased to know that you’ve done your homework and you can think fast.
“Remember interviews are not one size fits all, so it’s valuable to do your research about the company and the job before you walk in the door for an interview so that you can put your best leg forward,” Zupan concludes.
Click here to see Glassdoor’s list of the 20 most oddball interview questions of the year.
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This is an update of a piece that ran previously.
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