Out of Left Field: Unusual Interview Questions
Recruiters are inundated with resumes, emails, recommendations, phone calls and of course, the task of conducting job interviews every single day. It gets to the point where many employers dread giving interviews because they not only have to do so many of them (familiarity breeds contempt), but also because the majority of answers given by applicants are almost always the same. There is little difference interview to interview of the questions being asked, and the answers being given. In an effort to change things up a bit, those hiring may ask some oddball questions designed to keep you on your toes. Here are a few examples for you to ponder so that you are prepared:
If you could only listen to one song all day, what would it be?
This could be tossed out casually, even disguised as small talk–kind of like an icebreaker. But don’t be fooled by the apparent innocuous nature of the question. It actually means something and is asking you something specific about yourself. What it’s really asking is, are you a good cultural fit for our company? While it’s important to be honest here, do think twice before you say something like, “Work @#$%,” no matter how apropos you might think that is.
This might not even seem like small talk if this is asked. But in a nutshell (pun intended) this is asking you, “How good are you at presenting your case?” How are you able to put together a compelling argument beyond, “It’s totally good and you are weird for not liking it.” This question and your answer also speak to how well you can strategize. This doesn’t mean you need to put the Food Channel to shame with your answer. It just means you need to make sure you say what you mean and you mean what you say. We bet you never look at your favorite food again.
If hired, what would you do your first day on the job?
This totally sounds like a set-up question but it’s not. Your knee jerk response might be “I would get to know my team and get a better understanding of what my role would be.” That answer isn’t wrong, it’s just that it’s mind-numbingly standard. What the question is really asking you is, “How well do you prioritize?” And more importantly, “How well do you organize your day with such limited time to work with?” Tailor your answer with that in mind, but don’t go overboard and say something like, “My first day on the job will be spent trying to figure out how to take your job.” Don’t laugh, that’s actually happened.
Awkward. There you are trying to get a job, and the hiring manager comes at you with what seems like a loaded question. That is, until you remember that the question is about YOU, not them. What they are really asking is, “How well do you provide feedback? And how well can you communicate that feedback in a professional manner?” See how slick they can be? Protip: just imagine that you are already in Congress and everything that’s said has a double meaning. You’ll be about 95% there if you do that.
Sometimes employers figure that the best way to find a good candidate is by coming out of left field with seemingly outlandish questions, and it’s actually happening more frequently. Fielding these questions in the right way can make all the difference between striking out or hitting a home run. Don’t swing and miss. Just relax. Be prepared. And knock it out of the park.