Above all, take comfort in the fact that there is rarely a wrong answer to these offbeat questions. True, some responses can raise eyebrows. When I taught college students and conducted mock interviews with them, I would occasionally get “Adolph Hitler” as a response to the famous-person question. Rather than thinking the student was a Neo-Nazi, I chalked up that answer to a student who probably knows so little about history that Hitler was the only person he or she could think of.
If you can turn your answer into something job-related, that’s a bonus, but it’s probably above the expectations of the interviewer. For example, if you’re interviewing for a finance job and are asked what you’d do with a large windfall of money, you could give a clever response about how you’d invest the cash.
Below, we’ve provided some sample off-the-wall questions. The first group are questions submitted by readers, along with the answers they used. Be aware that studying this list of questions may be no help at all if you’re ever asked a weird question because you may be asked something totally different from any of these questions. The point is to expect the unexpected, and looking over these questions will at least give you the flavor of what might be asked and enable you to do a little out-of-the-box thinking about how you might respond when you’re asked a question as strange as these:
Shelley Feakes, resource navigator at Queens Career Resource Center in Nova Scotia, Canada, was asked: “If aliens landed in front of you and, in exchange for anything you desire, offered you any position on their planet, what would you want?”
“I thought about this question for a minute,” Feakes recalls, “then responded: ‘First I would want to go change my clothes since the aliens just scared the crap out of me! … then I would ask for a job as Chief Navigator so I could enjoy coming to Earth and scaring the crap out of other human beings.”
Explains Feakes: “My strategy was this: I first thought that it was a psychological question, that the interviewer was trying to see how far up the ladder I desired to be … then I thought twice and decided that I would express my creativity and go for an answer that was just as odd as the question itself. It must have worked … I got the job!”
Another reader was not happy about the odd questions she was asked. “I was asked who my heroes were and how I felt about affirmative action in the same interview. Talk about loaded questions! Looking back, it was obvious that I would be required to be very [politically correct] and think just like them to work there. If I hadn’t been a single mother and desperate for work, I would have answered, ‘I think this interview is over.'” She doesn’t remember how she actually did answer, but notes that “Those questions have nothing to do with the ability to do a job and are out of line. I’m probably lucky they didn’t hire me because I’m sure I would have been unhappy there.”