Preparation is the key to any job interview. You know a potential employer is going to ask about your background, likes, expectations, and aspirations. But what do you do if there’s a question that is a complete departure from the line of questioning you would expect?
First, it’s important to understand why employers ask these questions. The main goal is not to get a factual answer, but rather to see how you react to an unexpected situation and the logic you employ to work through it. Just as you prepare for standard interview questions, it’s a good idea to know how to react when an unexpected question comes your way.
Be calm and professional.
A good way to start the response is, “That’s an interesting question.” It will give you some time to process. Don’t be afraid to pause a moment before diving into it. It shows a willingness to think about a problem before moving to solution.
Probe for additional details.
This illustrates an understanding of the value of data in decision making.
When in doubt, ask to come back to the question later.
We all process differently. An interviewer will likely respect your need to take time. Most importantly, realize that these questions are not “make or break.”
Here are a few doozies from a blog on Hubspot. You can read the full blog along with potential answers here:
- “What do you think of garden gnomes?”
- “Why are manholes round?”
- “You’ve been given an elephant. You can’t give it away or sell it. What would you do with the elephant?”
- “Are you a hunter or a gatherer?”
- “How many pennies would fit into this room?”
- “What was the last gift you gave someone?”
- “If you could compare yourself with any animal, which would it be and why?”
In the end, don’t obsess about the possibility of awkward interview questions. Embrace it as part of the journey that will land you the right position for the next step in your career. And feel free to contact one of our recruiters when you’re ready to make a career move.
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