Unusual Interview Questions and How to Answer Them

Interviews can be a combination of excitement and apprehension at the same time, especially if you are out of practice. With the right recruiter on your side, confirming a date and time to meet your next potential employer means that you have already made it past the initial application stage. Preparing for the traditional questions about your strengths and weaknesses are a given, but what happens when the conversation takes a more unusual turn?

You attend an interview for your next big role and you’re quietly confident that the hour you have spent with your potential new employer has been a success. You thank yourself for dedicating the past week towards honing your interview technique, making sure that every line delivered on your biggest achievements and ambition for the future is memorable.

That is until the unconventional hammer is thrown down and you are asked how many golf balls do you think are hit in the UK on the average Saturday afternoon? This is your first challenge. Your professional fight or flight reaction is now in the limelight and as you try to remain calm under pressure, you smile and begin your answer without trying to sound like you have no idea what you’re supposed to say.

Glassdoor have reported some of the most unusual questions posed to interviewees include “If you had £2,000, how would you double it in 24 hours?” asked by Uniqlo, “When a hot dog expands, in which direction does it split and why?” asked by SpaceX and "If you were a brand, what would be your motto?" by Boston Consulting Group. What do unconventional interview questions prove? Why are they part of the interview process and should you panic when thrown a curveball that potentially derails your confidence when speaking to a potential employer?

James Turley, Director at TurleyWay says that interviewers are looking for rationale and are often digging deeper to understand what motivates an interviewee to progress in their career. The right answer (if it exists)? The quickest response? Timing to get it perfect?

But what do these questions truly achieve and what is the motive behind the change in conversational direction?

He explains that interviewers do this as they are looking for curiosity, creativity and a competitive edge which separates you from the rest of the candidate population. His advice? Be honest and genuine in your response. There is no right or wrong answer. Abstract questions are simply an opportunity for companies to assess whether someone can ‘think deep’ and interact outside of their comfort zone without time to prepare. Ultimately, it’s a question of how well you can you handle stress.

Answers are not going to be perfect; James reiterates that there is often not a right nor wrong answer; interviewers want to understand your ways of thinking. It is their way of understanding your skillset in real time - can you think logically? Do new situations and bizarre questions phase you or are you calm and able to tackle new challenges as they arise? Are you going to inspire others around you as a leader or would you be better taking a back seat?

Ultimately, the advice is to be yourself and don’t try to give an answer you think the interviewer is looking for, they often don’t know the answer themselves anyway!

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