When Father Guido Sarducci (aka Don Novello) posed this question of former Beatle Paul McCartney in 1980, it was a moment of comedic genius. The Saturday Night Live regular had set up the question as if he were about to ask the one thing everyone wanted to know in the years leading up to John Lennon’s assassination: When are the Beatles going to get back together? Then he posed the animal question instead. Too funny.
McCartney’s answer (“Koala Bear”) came easily. After all, creativity is his business – and chances are he had been tipped off to the question beforehand. But for the average Joe (or Jane), such a question can really throw them for a loop, especially when it comes in the middle of a job interview. That’s exactly why savvy hiring managers are increasingly incorporating non-traditional, even oddball, questions into interviews – to catch candidates off-guard.
Here are a few examples of actual questions posed in job interviews:
- If Hollywood made a movie about your life, who would play you?
- If you could have dinner with anyone from history, who would you choose?
- What was your best MacGyver moment?
- If you were a salad, what kind of dressing would you have?
- If you were a superhero, what would your superpowers be?
Granted, not all non-traditional interview questions are so odd or comical, but they all have one thing in common – they are designed to elicit facets of your personality that would not otherwise be evident in a traditional interview. Because they are intended to catch you offguard, it is never possible to prepare for them. And that’s the idea. The interviewer wants to see how you think on your feet. However, you can prepare yourself mentally to give it your best shot.
The good thing about these types of questions is there’s no “right answer,” so technically you can’t be wrong. If you find yourself faced with an unusual question, don’t let it rattle you. Simply take a deep breath and take a few moments to prepare your response. You may even wish to tell the interviewer, “That’s an interesting question. Let me give it some thought.” That way, they won’t think you are just biding your time when you sit there silently.
If it helps, imagine how you would answer the same question if it had been posed by a friend. Such an approach may help relax you and let an answer come to you naturally. Just remember to leave the expletives for the TGIFriday’s, however.
Whatever you do, be sure to provide some kind of thoughtful answer and then back it up. If your superpowers would be the ability to mentally dismantle a lawnmower or your choice of dinner guest would be legendary serial killer Ted Bundy, be prepared to explain why. All the while, remain poised and confident. No matter how wacky your response, it’s to your advantage to demonstrate that you are a sincere, thoughtful person who takes their questions – no matter how off-the-wall – seriously.
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