Interviews can be stressful at the best of times, let alone when the interviewer throws a curveball question that you didn’t see coming. Despite our best efforts, unique or downright strange questions have become a reality of most modern interviews. They offer a creative and indirect way for employers to assess a candidate’s skills, motivation and personality type. They’re also a built-in icebreaker, because who can keep a straight face when asked what the color of money is?
No matter how much time you spend preparing for an interview nor how much you know about the role or company, there are some questions that you just won’t expect nor know how to answer straight away. But having a few commonly-asked-yet-odd interview questions in the back of your mind will help you tap into that right-brained mindset.
We can’t guarantee what questions you’ll be asked at your next interview, but we can share a few examples and how best to respond. Review the following strange interview questions and practice answering so you can feel more prepared if and when they do come up.
1. Would you consider yourself more of a hunter or a gatherer?
This question is a relatively obvious way to assess what sort of employee someone is. If answered honestly, it allows the employer to determine your strengths, weaknesses and work style. That doesn’t mean that one answer is “right” and the other is “wrong”. Both hunters and gathers provide value to a community. This question simply allows the employer to see which role you are more suited for.
2. If you found out right now that you won $10 million in the lottery, what would you do?
This question is typically used to determine a candidate’s motivation in a role. If you respond by saying (or implying) that you would walk out of the job interview and never look back, the employer is not going to view you favorably. They want to see a candidate who is passionate about their industry and interested in the career path for reasons other than just financial gain.
3. What is the best gift you’ve ever given?
There are a few ways this question can be answered. Some will share the fanciest or most expensive item they’ve gifted. Others will share something sentimental or experiential. When answering this question, the specifics of the gift don’t really matter as much as the story behind it. Employers usually ask it as a way to see how perceptive you are of other’s interests or desires and to generally assess the candidate’s personality.
4. If you were a car, what kind would you be?
This is another classic question used to assess a candidate’s personality type, but it also provides some insight into their values and work style. The car you choose should not be your dream car, but rather the one you feel represents you best. For instance, “I would be a Jeep Wrangler because I’m traditional and hard-working” or “I would be a Toyota Prius because I’m dependable and I value sustainability.”
5. How many gas stations do you think there are in the United States?
It is unlikely that you will know the answer to this question off the top of your head, but your strategy for figuring it out will give the employer some insight into your reasoning and problem-solving skills (and awareness of US geography!) FYI, the actual answer is 168,000. A good way to guess would be to estimate the number of people in the US of driving age and then how many stations you believe are needed to meet their demand.
6. If you could work for any company in the world, which would it be and why?
Would you pick Google for the fun and flexible work environment, Tesla for the ethical peace of mind, or Amazon for the staff discount? Your answer will tell the interviewer what you value in a company, both in terms of benefits and overall culture. It will help them assess whether you’re a good fit as well as if they can provide the sort of values you are expecting in a workplace.
7. What is the color of money?
While the aforementioned question showcases your understanding of the United States, this question showcases your awareness of the world. If you answer that money is “green, obviously” you are not taking into consideration currencies of other countries (or even coins within the United States). Stating that the answer is dependent on various factors indicates a well-rounded perspective and global awareness.
8. What are five uses for a pencil other than writing?
This question determines a candidate’s innovation and creative thinking. Do they answer with “erasing” or “tying up my hair” or “staking a plant” or “playing music”? Each one highlights a different interest and inclination that is important in determining how an employee will work and think. When answering this question, it’s useful to not only have creative answers but also diversity amongst them.
These eight examples are only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to odd interview questions, but hopefully, they can help you prepare for others you might encounter. If you would like even more tips to help you prepare for your next interview, check out our other blog posts for employees.