Most of us expect certain questions when we head to an interview. We assume that the interviewee will probably ask us about our work experience and why we are interested in the job. We know that most likely we will have to talk about our specific skills, and provide relevant examples from previous jobs that show why we will succeed if we are hired for a new job. However, sometimes interviewers ask questions that we are not expecting. Glassdoor recently compiled it’s annual report of the Top 25 Oddball Interview Questions for 2014. Whether an interviewer is trying to slip you up to see how fast you can act in a tough situation, or the interviewer just likes unique questions, being prepared and open to oddball questions will help you ace your interview. Below are five questions from Glassdoor’s list that you might run into, and how to prepare for them.
1. “How lucky are you and why?”
This interview question was asked at Airbnb. Since the company helps customers find rentals, luck could factor in. Although this question seems like an oddball question, when you factor in the company itself, it fits a little more. This is important because thinking about unique questions that an interviewer might ask you that are directly related to a particular field makes sense, and will help you prepare for your interview. There are many ways you could positively answer this question, but one of the best ways to do so would be to highlight your best qualities. For example, instead of answering that you are lucky (or not), explain why you work hard instead of trusting in luck. This is a great response because it turns a strange question into a positive for the interviewee; any time you can do this, you will come out ahead.
2. “If you could sing one song on American Idol, what would it be?”
Although this question by Red Frog Events is also an oddball question, it is a perfect example of the type of question you should expect at an interview. Interviewers want to know about you, and they have very little time to see into your personality. Asking a question like this allows the interviewer to learn about you quickly, and gives you a chance to share about yourself without sharing too much. If you get a question like this, don’t just blurt out the first thing that comes to your mind. Many people panic during interviews and think they need to speak immediately, but it really is acceptable to take a minute to come up with an answer. It’s also important to take your answer a step further when you can; in the case of this particular question, you should try to explain why you would choose a particular song. You can show positive aspects of your personality if you answer carefully.
3. “Are you more of a hunter or a gatherer?”
Dell knew what it was doing with this question, and interviewees should learn to expect questions that make you think, and especially, questions that require you to compare yourself to something else. This type of question allows interviewers to get to know your personality a little, but really, these questions give you a chance to explain what kind of worker you are. Most employers want employees who can work as part of a team, and who have leadership qualities. A great way to answer this type of question is to explain that you be both, and then explain why. Almost any type of question that requires you to classify yourself offers a great way to highlight your skills, so don’t get caught so off-guard that you miss an opportunity to shine.
4. “If you were on an island and could only bring 3 things, what would you bring?”
This is another example of a get-to-know-you question. In fact, this particular question has been asked by kids at sleepovers for generations, so the fact that it is now making it into Yahoo’s interviewer rotation means that plenty of interviewees should be prepared to answer it. Of course, you will have to change your answer in order for it to be appropriate in a work setting; try to come up with three items that show that you are a hard worker, or at least, that you value more than just fun activities. Instead of bringing your phone (which many of us can’t live without), bring a book that you have been wanting to read, along with whatever life essentials you need.
You could also answer this question by saying you would bring an important work project, but you are probably better off showing that you are motivated and passionate (by sharing an important book or other intellectual endeavor) rather than making it look like you are trying to suck up to the interviewer.
5. “What is your least favorite thing about humanity?”
This is a question in which your answer can either catapult you to the top of the interview pool, or get your resume completely taken out of the running. The people at ZocDoc came up with this great question. If you answer by complaining about former coworkers, bosses, or humanity in general, you risk looking pessimistic and difficult to get along with, so you want to avoid ranting when you answer this question. This is also the type of question that many people could talk about for hours, so you need to avoid any political or religious discussions. Your best bet is to make this negative question a positive one. You can explain how each person can make a difference (relate it back to a work environment.) The right answer will depend on who is interviewing you; if the interviewer is a stickler for a specific example, then come up with an answer, and then explain how you try to avoid making that same mistake yourself when you are working.
There’s no way to know for sure which questions an interviewer will ask you at an interview. However, by going into an interview prepared for oddball questions, you will be setting yourself up to succeed. Remember: it’s okay to take a minute to think of an answer; doing so is a much better idea than saying the wrong thing because the questions caught you off-guard.