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Unusual Interview Questions

It’s totally normal for people to get nervous at interviews. As you might have guessed, the reason people get nervous is not because they know they can’t do the job or be successful on a course, but because they’re pretty frightened of the unknown – in this case, what they’ll get asked in the interview that could metaphorically trip them up, meaning they won’t get the job or make yourself look like an absolute plonker.

With this in mind, some bright spark thought, ‘Why not provide interview advice so people get less nervous?’ and ever since careers advice has started to appear in abundance. Of course, we’re going to blow our own trumpet and send you in the direction of our advice on interview nerves, interview questions and competency based interview questions, but what about the unusual interview questions that attempt to catch you off guard and are just sometimes utterly bizarre?

Off-The-Wall Questions

Sometimes employers love to throw you a curveball just to see how you react. Often, they’re not looking to be impressed by the initial response, but how you deal with something unsuspected. Additionally, you should also try really bloomin’ hard to give an answer that demonstrates your skills, commitment and knowledge

Example questions could include:

- If you were a biscuit, which one would you be?

- What was the last film you saw? Did you enjoy it? If so/not, why so/not?

- If you were an Olympic athlete, who would you be and why?

As you can see, it’s pretty hard to prepare for these questions and would also be time consuming and unwise to do so, as you’re not even 50% sure they’ll ask you an off-the-wall question.

However, our mate Steve Rook, who wrote The Graduate Career Guidebook, came up with an example question and answer to give you an idea of how you can approach these questions.

Question: If you were an animal, which one would you be? (For a job as a fire-fighter)

Answer: I would be a wolf because they’re brave, they like new challenges and work collaboratively.

For example, I recently had to help a man who got stuck in a quarry after a heart attack in my voluntary role for Cumbria Mountain Rescue.

I had to work closely with expert colleagues to figure out a way to get the man out of the deep culvert and then had to carry him back to base over rough terrain for twelve miles.

I was absolutely exhausted but so fulfilled that I had taken part in a team which had saved someone’s life.

As you can see, the example answer only concentrates on the actual question for a brief moment, before referring to their own experience for the majority of the answer that displayed they had the skills necessary for the job.

Quick Case Questions

These are questioned that will test your ability to think critically. The answer isn’t as important as the process, logic and calculations you make throughout explaining your answer.

Here are some examples:

- How many American flags are there in the United States of America?

- How many football pitches are there in the UK?

- How many red cars are there in Germany?

To take you through an example answer, let’s work with the question about red cars in Germany. Firstly, ask the interviewer if they mean just registered cars or whether they’re also including ones currently being manufactured and in scrap yards.

Secondly, establish reasonable parameters and work from there. For example:

- The population of Germany is about 75 million.

- Families have roughly 1.5 cars

- The average single person has 0.75 of a car

- 50 million live as families, 25 million are single

- Each family has 2.5 people

- 20% of cars are red.

Therefore, to work out the number of cars in families you should do 50 million over 2.5, giving you 20 million families. 20 million multiplied by 1.5 cars is 30 million. Number of single people with cars is 0.75 multiplied by 20 million, giving you 15 million. Total cars therefore is 30 million plus 15 million, giving 45 million. 20% of 45 million is 9 million, so there are roughly 9 million red cars in Germany.

Unusual interview questions are, well, unusual. However, you can have thoughts in the back of your mind and examples you can draw upon if asked.