Handling “Off-the-Wall†Interview Questions

Rod writes:
I was told by a friend of mine that during a recent interview he was asked “Who do you admire most and why?” Can you tell me what the interviewer was trying to determine from that question and my friend’s answer? I understand there is no “right” answer. Still some must be better than others right?

The Career Doctor responds:
First let me refer you to an article I wrote Types of Job Interviews which looks at the common aspects of all job interviews and then takes you through the differences between traditional job interviews and behavioral-based interviews.
The “who do you admire most” types of questions which my partner Katharine Hansen refers to as the “wild-card” or “off-the-wall” questions are meant to see how well you think on your feet whether you will get flustered. While you can prepare for most of the standard interview questions these wild-card questions can catch even the experienced interviewee off guard; thus the key is to not allow yourself to get rattled by it. And you’re right there really are no wrong answers but there are some better answers…
So what’s the better answer? As with all interview answers it’s best to answer in a way that helps you state your cause that you are the right person for the position — perhaps a famous leader where you can discuss the value of leadership and the leadership
traits you have; or perhaps a famous businessperson where you can discuss the value of business acumen and your key business skills; or perhaps an athlete where you can discuss the value of teamwork and your experiences as a team player.
Read up on all aspects of job interviewing — including how to answer common questions — by going to our Job Interviewing Tutorial. Also read Don’t Get Stumped by Off-the-Wall Job Interview Questions and try your hand at composing responses to off-the-wall questions by using our Off-the-Wall/Wild Card Interview Practice Questions.

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