It’s like a bad dream.
You’re in an interview, dressed to impress and feeling totally in control of the situation, when the unthinkable happens – the interviewer asks a question that completely stumps you:
“If you could have dinner with anyone from history, whom would it be and why?”
“Why is a manhole cover round?”
“Which fictional character would you say best describes you?”
If just reading these questions makes beads of sweat pop out on your forehead, you’re not alone. In an interview situation, most of us would be stopped in our tracks by off-the-wall questions like these. But that’s the point: interviewers ask odd questions intentionally, to see how well job candidates thinks on their feet and respond to stress.
Because unusual interview questions can be about virutally any topic, they’re nearly impossible to prepare for. Still, here are a few quick tips to help you handle them more effectively:
- Keep your composure. The question was meant to throw you off your game – so don’t let it rattle you. Keep your face neutral and recognize that this is the wacky question you’ve been anticipating.
- Take your time. Smile, take a deep breath and avoid the temptation to blurt out an answer. Don’t panic – if you have to take a moment to gather your thoughts, it merely demonstrates that you think carefully through a situation before responding.
- Relax. When it comes to unusual interview questions, your answer is not as important as how you handle the situation. In fact, most don’t have right or wrong answers. So take the pressure off yourself. You don’t have to be brilliant, you just need to answer honestly.
If you’d like some practice answering off-the-wall questions, consider the following popular ones:
- If you could be any character in fiction, whom would you be?
- If you had only six months left to live, what would you do with the time?
- If someone wrote a biography about you, what do you think the title should be?
- If you were a _________ (insert: car, animal, salad dressing – you get the picture), what kind would you be and why?
- If you won $50 million in the lottery, what would you do with the money?
- How would you rate me as an interviewer?
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