Navigating The “Weird” Interview Question

Picture this: you’re interviewing with a company that you really want to work for, and you’ve just nailed the question on your five-year plan. Suddenly, out of the blue, the interviewer asks, “How much would it cost to steam clean all the carpets in Boston?”

You’ve just experienced an out-of-the-box question. And companies really do want your answer. There’s a reason. It may be to see your poise in fielding the questions, your personality, or your critical thinking skills. So, just like you’d prepare for “traditional” interview questions, develop a strategy for answering curveball questions.

Some of our favorites:

• Tell me one thing about yourself you wouldn't want me to know.
• How do you feel about taking no for an answer?
• Do you think a leader should be feared or liked?

###Technical Military Questions###

Military veterans often encounter technical questions about systems or equipment that is not universal between military and civilian platforms. If you experience a communication barrier when describing military vs. civilian systems or equipment, ensure that you understand the question. It may take either back-briefing the question or politely asking the interview to rephrase it.

If you are asked about a system that is slightly different than one you encountered in the military, tackle it by outlining the processes that you would take to troubleshoot, maintain, or repair the similar system.

###The Puzzle Question###

“How many cups of coffee can you fit in this room?”

These problem-solving questions are common in the IT field, and there isn’t a “right” answer. What’s being tested is how quickly you can think on your feet, and how you’ll approach solving a problem. Explain your thought process as you answer.

###The Flat-Out Weird Question###

“How many slices of pizza do you think I can eat?”
“Describe yourself as a color/animal/food”

Recruiters want a glimpse of your personality in your answer, so have fun with it.

###That’s a No-No###

A 2017 TopResume survey revealed that 80 percent of job seekers were asked potentially sensitive questions during the hiring process. According to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), candidates can’t be asked about the following:

• Age
• Race, color, birthplace or ethnicity
• Religion
• Sex, gender identity, or sexual orientation
• Disability
• Citizenship
• Marital status, family, number of children, or pregnancy

###Military Service###

In general, questions about discharge or non-U.S. military service are not permitted. Employers may certainly ask about your training and experience that relates to the job. If the position requires a security clearance, certain questions about your discharge may be permitted.

###Get Ready###

No matter what you’re asked, preparation is the key to success. Staging a mock interview or video, complete with oddball questions, will help you feel confident and ready to tackle any type of question that’s thrown your way.