The job interview is going just great. You came prepared. You and the interviewer have talked about the position, the company, and your would-be coworkers. You did your homework and know the company well enough that you could walk in right away, fully aware of the company’s mission and ready to contribute.
In short, you're feeling really good and very confident. Then, the interviewer throws you a curve ball: one of the weirdest questions you've ever been asked at a job interview. And after you answer it, you think to yourself: "What was that about?"
These weird questions often go something like this:
- What’s your favorite color?
- If you could be a dog, what breed would you be?
- Who's your favorite fictional character?
- If you were to win the lottery today, what would you do with the money?
- How many nuts does a squirrel bury each season and how many nuts does it lose?
- If you were to write an autobiography, what would the title be?
Here's what lies at the root of these questions: Interviewers ask them to understand how you think. Watching you struggle to formulate an answer to a question that doesn’t have a right or wrong answer can reveal a lot about you. The good news is, if they're asking weird questions, they've probably determined that you have the skills to do the job; now they want to see how you think about a problem before you answer.
For instance, if the interviewer were to ask "Which historical figure—dead or alive—would you most like to have a conversation with?", the candidate who answers Napoleon would be viewed differently from the one who answers Mother Teresa.
What's the point?
Interviewers ask such weird questions because they believe it'll help them select the best candidate. But, of course, hiring the right one is a judgment call. "An interviewer will usually say the candidate will fit or will not fit based on little more than gut feel," says interviewing expert Michael R. Neece. "Asking a weird question or two plays into forming that gut feel.”
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