Interview questions that throw candidates for a loop like, “Why are manholes round?” have become the stuff of job-hunting legend, with stories from super-competitive tech companies like Google bringing the brainteaser question into the mainstream. Today, a much wider variety of companies use oddball or offbeat questions to try to find out something about a candidate — but if you’re sitting across the desk from a hiring manager, it can be hard to figure out why they’re actually asking about manholes, golf balls or some other puzzling riddle.
CareerBuilder asked hiring managers to spill the craziest question they’ve ever asked in an interview, they asked them to explain what they’re really interested in finding out. Here’s your peek behind the crazy-interview-question curtain— insight that just might be enough to get you hired.
“Define ‘Jell-O’ without using any form of the word ‘gelatin.’” Rather than being about jiggly desserts, this question gives the interviewer a window into your creative problem-solving skills.
“How would you wrangle a herd of cats?” Obviously, cats aren’t cattle. What an interviewer wants to hear when they ask a question like this is what kind of strategic thinking you use to organize and lead.
“Do you believe in life on other planets?” This isn’t the time to talk about your vast knowledge of Star Trek trivia. In this case, an interview is curious to find out whether or not you have an open-minded, “anything is possible” attitude.
“If you didn’t have to work, what would you do?” Please don’t say “sleep in” here. This reveals to an interviewer what really motivates you and what you’re passionate about outside of your 9-5 existence.
“If you were CEO at your last company, what would you change?” This one can seem tricky, because you don’t want to come off sounding like you’re bad-mouthing an employer. The aim of this question is most likely to ascertain how well you can take a step back and look objectively at situations or challenges, and what tactics you would use to improve or solve them.
“If you were a share of stock, why should a company buy you?” This one isn’t really a trick question so much as another way to ask, “Why should we hire you?”
“What superpower would you like to have?” How you answer this one gives the hiring manager a peek into how you view your own strengths, and your weaknesses.
“If you could be a Disney character, which one would you be and why?” This is another one that tips your hand a bit and tells the interviewer how you see yourself. It’s also not a bad way to assess a job-seeker’s sense of humor.
“If you were stranded on an island, which two items would you like to have with you?” Your answer here tells the hiring manager how you prioritize resources and what strategies you use to cope with limited resources.
“If you were trapped in a blender, what would you do to get out?” This question is a multi-tasker. It shows the interviewer how you think on your feet, and demonstrates your creativity as well as your problem-solving skills.
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