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Navigating the Outlandish Job Interview Question

Posted by Lauren Hunter on April 22, 2014

We’ve all been there; you are asked a question that completely stumps you in an interview. You are unsure how to answer it and you don’t completely understand how this question will help them make a hiring decision. So take a journey with me into the Twilight Zone of Hiring to give you a little insight into what companies want from those questions and how to avoid being a causality of that minefield.

tough interview

Let me give a little insight into why these outlandish questions are asked in an interview. Companies want to test your adaptability, your ability to think on your feet and then articulate your thoughts in a coherent manner even when under stress. These types of questions are a good baseline to see your ability to think fast and express your thoughts. So how do you survive these questions?

  1. First off, don’t panic! My first reaction when I first started interviewing out of college was to freak out. My response to panic was probably one of the worst things that I could do because it caused my nervous system to go into overdrive, producing stress hormones and making my face turn an unflattering shade of red. It also made it harder to concentrate and come up with an answer to their questions. I learned to counteract this panic response by taking a deep breath and realizing that they aren’t looking for a specific answer (they are just looking for an answer that makes a semblance of sense). When I would take those deep breaths it would make me relax and in turn it would make it easier to come up with an answer. And my relaxed demeanor would speak volumes to the interviewer and let them know that I can handle the curveballs of the company.
  2. Secondly, and I can’t stress this enough, you have to read and read and read. Read books, read articles, read magazines…just read. It is so important to be informed. It not only gives you something to draw upon when asked outlandish questions but it keeps your mind sharp and agile. My favorite websites for professional development are TLNT, The Daily Muse, and Careerealism. These sites keep me up-to-date on trends that affect my industry and help me to keep my professional edge. So find a site that speaks into your industry and read everything that you can get your hands on. Become a go to person for knowledge. I can’t tell you how much reading has helped progress my career and to help my ability to network and hold intelligent conversations with executives and supervisors. Reading has saved me from many an awkward silence.
  3. My third tip is to answer the question. If they ask you, “How many cows are in Canada?’ (Google asks this question to their data quality candidates) then tell them that you think 10 million cows are in Canada. You won’t know the answer unless you look it up, but at least you answered their question. Here is an article (Crazy Interview Questions) devoted to various questions that organizations ask during their interviews. It is always best to come to an interview as prepared as you can; so search what questions are asked at each company you interview at and look for industry specific interview questions.

I think the weirdest question that I’ve ever been asked was, “If I could change the color of the sky, what color would I change it to and why?”

I think the weirdest question that I’ve ever been asked was, “If I could change the color of the sky, what color would I change it to and why?” I told them that I would change the color to be like a mood ring. The sky would change colors with the moods of the population. You could then see how society as a whole was feeling by looking up at the sky. I still don’t know if they liked my answer, but I still think it would be cool to have a mood ring the size of the sky.

Until next time,

Anna