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Crazy Job Interview Questions: Why Employers Ask Them and How to Prepare

Man asking crazy job interview questions

If you have been though several job interviews already, you’ve probably heard the same—or very similar— interview questions many times over. You may even be at the stage where you can predict and prepare for the most common job interview questions they’ll throw your way:

What makes you qualified for this job?”

“What are your strengths and weaknesses?”

“Where do you see yourself in 5 years?”

Every once in a while, an interviewer will toss out a question seemingly from left-field:

If you could turn into an animal, what animal would you want to be?”

 That’s when you think: “Uh oh! I have no idea what they want me to say. Or, is this a trick question? Are they only hiring sharks?!”

 You’re not going to be able to predict and prepare a script for every question an interviewer might ask, but here are a few tips on how to navigate those crazy job interview questions.

1. Be cool

First, don’t freak out. Most often these curve-ball questions— and even some of the more standard questions for that matter— aren’t being asked to get a specific response. In that case, there truly are no “right” or “wrong” answers. What the interviewer is really asking is: How do you approach new challenges? They want to see if you get thrown off track, or if you seem to enjoy using your creativity and problem-solving skills to come up with interesting and novel solutions.

2. Buy time

Often the best response is to smile and then buy yourself a little time to think about the question: “That’s a really interesting/original/or unusual question!” This strategy praises the creativity of the author of the question, who is often the one interviewing you. Flattery usually goes a long way.

3. Go deep

Then you can begin to consider why they might be asking you the specific question. Does it have something to do with the culture of this specific company? Does the job require a particular type of outside-the-box problem solving? Is it a high-pressure environment and they want to see if you’re easily flustered? Maybe they just are interested in learning more about how you analyze and approach new problems.

4. Be yourself

Regardless of the interviewer’s specific question or intent, it is usually best to come up with a genuine, creative answer that reflects the kind of a person you are and the type of employee you will be. That way it won’t be too difficult to explain your reasoning when you are faced with the inevitable follow-up question(s) like: “Why is that?” or “How did you come up with that response?” Because these follow-ups often get to the point the behind the initial question, when you’ve answered honestly, you can be sure your explanation will be at least as creative and interesting as your answer to their crazy question in the first place.

5. Go in prepared

Unlikely as it may seem, you can actually prepare for the unpredictable. The best way to handle crazy questions, and become confident in your answers and explanations, is to practice. So, check out some of the following lists that include real curve-ball questions and see if you can come up with some equally creative and interesting answers and explanations. Then, as further exercise, come up with some of your own crazy questions to see how they are formulated.

The more practice you have, the easier it will be for you to quickly come up with some relevant, unique answers that genuinely help to explain who you are and why you’ll be great in the job.  Good luck, and try to have fun fielding those crazy, curve-ball interview questions!