There are so many ways to prepare for an interview and set yourself up for success. A quick Glassdoor search will find you the internet’s most common situational and behavioral interview questions. You can write up your answers following the S.T.A.R. method. You can sit with a headhunter to mock interview for hours.
With the growing volume of candidates applying for jobs (up to 1000 people sometimes for even an internship position!), the high cost of turnover, and the war for great talent, recruitment teams are doing whatever they can to separate the best candidates from the best-practiced candidates. Sometimes, this means throwing a hilarious curveball question your way.
To get some real-time data on what’s really going on in interviews, I took to social media platforms to ask, “What’s the most fun question you’ve ever been asked in an interview?”
Here are real, true responses from professionals across industries around the world:
- If you turned around and in the doorway was a penguin with a mustache, wearing a big sombrero and poncho, what do you think the penguin would say? -Medical School Resident
- What’s your spirit animal? -Government Employee
- If a lion and a tiger fought, who would win and why? -Lawyer
- If your neighbor asked your child to supervise a pool party at their house, would you let your child go? -Lawyer
- What would you do if you found an elephant in your backyard? -Management Student
- What would you name this painting and why (Referencing an abstract painting on the wall)? -Insurance Underwriter
- How do you fit a giraffe in a fridge? -Lawyer
- If you were a movie character, who would you be and why? -Network Administrator
- What would you want your title to be when you retire? -Engineer
- Describe how you would make me a sandwich. -HR Professional
- Why are manholes round? -Firefighter
- When was a time you lied and got away with it? -Flight Attendant
- How much would you charge to clean all the windows in Chicago? -Doctor
- If you don’t get this job what's your backup plan? -Sales Rep
- If you were a flower, what kind would you be and why? -HR Professional
- What were you like in high school? -HR Professional
- Would you be comfortable working in a hospital, since you were born in one? -Social Worker
- Are you a superstar? -Marketing Professional
So what really is the point of asking questions that have no objectively correct answer? In short, hiring managers want to see what you’re like unscripted. While they can easily assess your skills by examining your past projects and experiences, it can be challenging to get to know you as a person and get a sense of your compatibility with a team.
Since the rest of an interview can be fairly easy for to prepare for, organizations want to see how you think through problems and approach abstract situations. For example in question 7, “How do you fit a giraffe in a fridge?”, asking questions like “What kind of fridge”, or “What age is the giraffe”, would show the interviewer that you’re able to connect concepts and ideas, and think outside the box.
Is there a great deal of validity to this method? Probably not. However, this is a great opportunity for you show the hiring managers just how funny, cool, and creative you can be.
The worst thing you can do in a situation like this is to respond by saying “I don’t know” or by getting flustered. The next time you hear one of these questions, rather than freak out over the absurdity, take a beat, think logically, and remember that there is no right or wrong answer, only an opportunity to stand out from the crowd.