How To Deal With Weird Interview Questions

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What would you do if you were told by an interviewer that it was their birthday and they wanted you to sing them a happy birthday song?

Would you sing loudly and cater the lyrics to the organization and person? Would you quietly mumble your way through and end with a coughed-out, “Hurrah!”?

Whether you’re in, or fresh out of, school you are most likely going through interviews – and most of them will be pretty repetitive:

“My teacher conducted mock interviews with the students in order to prepare them for the ad agencies that would test your on the spot idea generation.  One of the questions was, ‘Why is a manhole cover round?’” —Adam Marlatt, Creative Advertising grad, Centennial College

  • Why do you want to work here?
  • What are your best qualities?
  • How can you contribute to the company?

After you consider your qualifications and a few choice words to describe yourself and your work ethic for interview preparation, you might also want to think about your interviewing technique, or as I like to say, “interview swagga’.”

Regardless of age, strange interview questions tend to put people off their game.  However, there are simple ways to deal with these tricksters that will leave you ahead of your competition, and the key is to be confident in whatever you say and improvise.

Strange interview questions are meant to test various skills: on the spot thinking, creativity, dependability, morality and allegiance as well as compatibility and personality.

Adam Marlatt, recent Centennial College creative advertising grad, was prepped in one of his final advertising classes for these quirky questions to measure his creativity in a field where imagination is tantamount.  “My teacher conducted mock interviews with the students in order to prepare them for the ad agencies that would test your on the spot idea generation.  One of the questions was, ‘Why is a manhole cover round?’

How could you possibly even begin to answer a question like that?

First, compose yourself.  Take a deep breathe and start the cogs to grinding. Don’t try to rush into answering, because showing poise and thoughtfulness is a quality appreciated in all professions.

Second, expect to be probed for certain qualities that pertain to the job you’re interviewing for.

In Adam’s case, it was to think of a variety of ideas in a short amount of time. If you’re interviewing for a human resources position, you might get asked about your superpowers, whereas Ministry of Labour interns often get asked which kind of tree they would be.

Other strange questions might be:

  • What would be the title of your biography?
  • How do you think I did as an interviewer?
  • Do you eat the red smarties last?

The third and main idea with wild card questions is the ability to adapt your response either to your own personality and strengths, or to the job.  Your success all depends on the personal judgment calls you make.  Whether you can convince that refusing to eat the red smarties last is a statement of individuality, or that eating them last allows you to make sure no problem is left unfixed, is all a question of expecting the interviewers expectations.

Feel free to share your strange interview stories and questions below!

Photo credit: Definitely the last of the blue Smarties by Axel Bührmann on Flickr
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About the author

Arina Kharlamova is a budding writer of mainly poetry, and sometimes things that can be understood at first glance. She is an Assistant Editor-turned-Contributor at TalentEgg and an undergrad at York University, working on a specialized Honours Bachelor's degree in English and Professional writing. She can be found bouncing all over the internet in a tweeterific, face-friendly, blogosized fit of energy.