How To Handle Wild Card Interview Questions
In a typical job interview you’ll be asked questions about your background, education, experience and skills. Standard inqueries may probe your past, as in, “Tell me about time when you led a team through a challenging situation.” They might ask you to respond to a hypothetical situation, such as, “If a competitor dropped their prices to force you out of the market, how would you respond?” While the phrasing may vary, most interview questions follow a few basic themes and can be anticipated and prepared for. Then there are the wild card interview questions. These off-the-wall queries are meant to throw you out of your comfort zone and see how well you think on your feet.
The Wrong Answer
While some unusual questions may have a right or wrong answer, most are more ambiguous. The only truly wrong answer is any version of “I don’t know.” Don’t frown, sigh or roll your eyes. Take a deep breath and give a response that shows you are creative and engaged. It may be as off the wall as the question that was asked, but it shows the interviewer that you will not buckle under pressure.
The Right Answer
Many wild card interview questions are open-ended, and the interviewer asks them specifically because they want to see your real, unscripted capabilities and personality. Any interview question can be used to highlight the traits that make you a great employee, and offbeat queries are no exception, so don’t just throw out a glib or goofy answer. Find a way to elaborate on your response and use the question to highlight your best qualities.
Sample Questions and Answers
1. Interviewers may use wild card interview questions as a way of gaining insight into your personality. They may ask:
- What is in your refrigerator right now?
Don’t just share fun facts about yourself. Formulate your response to highlight a characteristic that makes you a good candidate for the position. If asked which superpower you’d like to have, you might respond, “I’d love to have the power to duplicate myself. I always have a lot of projects going and it would be great to be able to accomplish more every day. Since I don’t have a team of clones, I’ve had to learn to organize my time well and prioritize tasks and goals so I can get everything done myself.”
2. Other queries may be designed to suss out your priorities. These questions include:
Again, wild card interview questions have no wrong answer, but if you know which traits you want to emphasize you can tailor your response to that end. Captain Ahab might inform an interviewer that on a deserted island he’d want to have a whaling ship and a harpoon, as he could never abandon his quest for Moby Dick.
3. Some questions are meant to test your analytical thinking. An interviewer might stump you with the following:
There are actually three types of question here. You aren’t expected to know the area of Oklahoma, but you might explain how you would find that information. There is a solution to the stone question, and puzzling it out aloud will give the interviewer valuable insight into your problem solving ability and style. Moving Mt. Fuji is an impossible task, but your imaginative plan can demonstrate creativity and resourcefulness.
Once you are comfortable with the unconventional nature of wild card interview questions, they can actually be quite fun to contemplate. Practice a few each day to get comfortable with thinking on your feet and finding ways to use each question as an opportunity to discuss your strengths.