Interviewing can be nerve racking, a bit stressful, but super exciting at the same time, right? We do our best to prepare, practice and rehearse what to say and be well equipped to answer the typical interview questions, such as, “where do you see yourself in 5 years”, or “why do you want to work for us?” But, what tends to catch us off-guard, are those questions we don’t expect, the ones that are unrelated to the position.
But, there is a way to prepare for those bizarre interview questions! Really, you can actually have fun with them!
I will share a question that I was asked when I was interviewing for a marketing role at a large, well-known company. My interview was with a hiring manager and a senior sales associate, and they asked, “if we came to your house for dinner, what would you prepare for us”? I felt like I was staring at them for an hour before I answered, but in reality I sat back and pondered for a minute on how best to answer. My first comment was, that I really like cooking and friends have told me that I am a good cook and an even better host! From there, it was easy, I made sure to be considerate, I asked if they had allergies, any dietary restrictions, and if they enjoyed sweets! I proceeded to put together a well-thought out menu, right down to the dishes and centerpiece! I also added, that our dinner gathering was more about the company than the food (they seemed to like that.) By the way, the company was Disney Publishing, and yes, I got the job!
The reason these bizarre or unrelated questions are asked is often designed to assess your ability to think on your feet and get a sense of your personality. People who interview you want to hear your thought process and how you handle challenging situations.
Think First, Then Answer
So, take your time when answering a random interview question. Your interviewer (or interviewers, in my case) has designed the question to be intentionally testing and won’t necessarily expect you to have an immediate answer at your fingertips.
Think about what the company does and what role you’re applying for and what the responsibilities are. If there is an opportunity to show off organizational skills, technical ability or math skills in answering the question, this is more than likely what the question is designed to do.
In most cases, these bizarre questions are an opportunity to demonstrate your creativity and about how you could approach the problem/challenge. Remember, there may be a number of possible answers and not necessarily a right or wrong answer. Check out this post about Rubik’s Cubes and 747’s for a similar approach to answering these types of questions.
Your willingness to embrace an unusual question and your efforts to provide a logical answer will be looked upon favorably by an employer, whatever answer you eventually arrive at!
This post was written by Christine Hathaway. Christine is an Associate Director of Marketing and Communications for Co-op and Career Development here at Northeastern. She is our in house marketing guru and is passionate about planning events, working with others to create powerful marketing materials and presentations and enjoys an occasional kick-boxing class or two! Tweet her about this post @CareerCoachNU.