Do You Believe In UFOs? The Hiring Manager Wants To Know

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Do you believe in UFOs? Turns out that job seekers are not the only ones getting creative in the interview process. A new CareerBuilder survey of hiring managers revealed that they, too, are starting to veer from the traditional interview questions in order to get candidates to offer up even more unique glimpses into their personality.

According to the latest Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey (JOLTS) conducted by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the number of applicants competing for every job opening in the U.S. is double the historic norm at seven candidates per opening. But companies aren’t just trying to fill a cubicle, they’re looking to find the person who can help the business prosper and reach specific goals in a tough economic environment.

Check out the questions that human resource managers and hiring managers said surprised job candidates the most and our take on how you can be better prepared for these off-the-wall questions.

Q: Do you believe in UFOS?


This is one of those typical questions that focuses on shock value and your best bet is to not let them get you off on a tangent about how you believe in a Star Trek universe vs. a Star Wars universe. Keep it business related and whatever you may say should be tied in to your qualifications for the position.

Your answer could be, “While I may not believe in UFOs, I do believe that in business, you have to have an attitude that anything is possible. Whether it’s pursuing a lofty revenue goal or a potential client who has turned you down 10 times, you have to believe the extraordinary can happen.”

I would not sing the song “E.T.” by Katy Perry, nor would I ask the hiring manager to recreate the video.

Q: Have you ever been the dumbest guy in the room?

Let’s be honest – everyone has. And don’t try to pretend you’re not or lie. Go with it. Respond with, “Certainly. Everyone has strengths and talents to offer, and you are not always going to be the best or the smartest. Recognizing this is the best way to work effectively in a team, allowing each member to contribute in their area of expertise, for the best cumulative result possible.”

Q: Can you drive in bad weather?

We’ll just go ahead and clear this up for you – they’re really asking if you can perform under pressure and in the middle of a ‘storm.’ But you can make your answer be relevant to their question and reflective of your ability to multi-task and handle work turmoil as well.

“Driving in bad weather is sometimes a necessity. It simply means you have to focus a little harder, be a little more cautious and exercise patience. It’s difficult, but not impossible, and you can always make it safely to your destination with a little calculated effort.”

Q: Do you bake or buy?

Answers that do not work:

“Neither. I ‘Shake N Bake.’

“Both. I Slice N Bake.”

Instead, explain the advantages of buying and baking and why you’d chose to do on or the other in certain situations. If you bake, you might want to say you enjoy compiling ingredients to create something others will enjoy or benefit from. If you buy, you might want to say you are a good delegator and always seeking ways to be more efficient with your time and resources.

Q: If I gave you a brick, what would you do with it?

This is a question about vision and initiative. “If you gave me a brick, I’d go out in search of more bricks, of different sizes and colors, in order to build something spectacular.”

Do not end with, “And then I’d build a…Brick…HOUSE!”

Q: Are rules meant to be broken?

A good way to approach this is by saying, “Not necessarily.” I myself have said, “It depends.” Rules are there for a reason typically: they ensure accountability, checks and balances and keep things running smoothly. But, once you adhere to the boundaries that are in place, you shouldn’t be afraid to say that when the time comes for critical thinking and innovative solutions to persistent problems, sometimes the rules need to be flexible.

Q: Are you a pencil or a pen?

Do not ask for clarification as far as whether you’d be the traditional No.2 or a fancier mechanical pencil. Nor should you want to know if the pen is a ball-point or one of those gel pens that just write a million times better and anyone with common sense would choose one over a plain old Bic. (I’m sorry – you know where my brand loyalty lies.)

Instead, you could venture to say that as a pencil, the best work is always a process and you enjoy having the ability to draft and redraft, erase and rethink the task at hand until it’s perfect. As a pen you might say, you’re authoritative, bold and daring when appropriate.

Q: If you could have a superpower, what would it be?

I know you’re tempted to make the awkward joke of “Hire me for this job,” but just don’t. The only laughter in the room will be pity-based.

Be clever when responding. Whether it’s the ability to fly, see into the future or leap over tall buildings in a single bound, you should always make a connection to your professional contributions. The superpower you choose need to relate back to an organization or how your skills would benefit others. For example, the ability to read someone’s mind can help you create better solutions for a client.

Q: What do you do when you see a spider in your house?

The employer is trying to get a feel for how you respond to situations. You can say you typically leave the spider alone because you don’t sweat the small stuff, or you can say that you ask someone else to take care of it because you delegate well while focusing on the bigger picture.


Now you dish: What’s the weirdest question you’ve been asked in an interview and how did you respond? 

  1. Pingback: New Question From Hiring Managers! |

  2. Here are a few suggestions:

    Q: Are you the Dumbest guy in the room?
    A: I like to have brainstorming sessions with my team where no question is dumb. This discussion encourages risk-taking, exploration of ideas and respect for each other’s contributions. So yes, we allow each person to be the dumbest guy in the room.
    Q: What would you do if I gave you a brick?
    A: In my service with non-profits, we investigated engraving bricks for fundraising. In a for-profit company, I would engrave the name of each member for our “It takes a team” wall of fame.
    Q: Are you a pencil or pen?
    A: I’m a pen, when I make a decision, I’m not tentative, I don’t erase mid-stream.
    Q: What would you do with a spider? (show some humor too)
    A: My father used to say, we need the spiders to eat the flies, but I don’t like bugs, software or otherwise.

  3. What puzzles me is that this sort of behavior is actually being condoned. If a person wants to know how another handles stress, try asking a former supervisor or let the person have the job with a probationary period. You will find out soon enough.

    One reason why the modern workplace is dysfunctional is that people who have clever answers to stupid questions like this–or who have, a la the SAT prep review, memorized the answers–actually get hired. People who could do the job often do not.

    I think that the uselessness of individuals who come up with such questions or who write articles like this which rationalize this kind of game-playing is becoming clear. I have noted that many companies are now posting temporary, part-time jobs as a way of screening applicants in a useful way which shows what they really can do.

    Fewer word games and less silly testing of social skills–and a bit more testing of actual skills–might benefit us all. Children’s games are for children.

    • Awww, f0b, did you get passed for promotion, have someone else awarded the corner cubicle with a view, or just not get the job? The whiz-kid who just passed you by is willing to stretch into the future by expressive creative thinking aloud. Those who wish to rest on their dubious merits are hoping their rusty resumes will strongly hint they were once able to accomplish something. Read the article again. Competition drives the employment market and quick thinkers, not bitter wannabes, succeed especially where employers don’t have money to burn on 90 day wonders–wonder if they have what our company needs. Your penchant for sarcasm, however articulate, suggests you are stuck in the past. Yesterday’s trophies don’t promise today’s results.

      And Rose Marie–what the #$**–you don’t fall for perceptions that skeptics trying to interpret-ate??? From what galaxy are you? And WHAT do you all smoke there?

      • I’ve never been asked questions like this during an interview so I don’t have any deep-seated bitterness towards then, it just seems like a manipulative and child-like way to run a business and I would wouldn’t be able to respect a company that wasted my time with crap like this. I prefer being honest and straightforward rather than bullshitting with cutesy questions. Let’s not pretend that the fact that I catch spiders and move them outside has anything to do with how I’ll perform my job outside of the times when I find a spider in my office. It sure as hell has nothing to do with how I respond when caught off-guard. From reading articles upon articles with questions like this, it seems like most people would be caught off-guard with a straight forward question asking about their work and education history…

    • I agree 100 percent with fOb. He is right on the money, I have seen situations like that happen and can verify that his opinion is correct, “game playing.” I cannot stress enough that people with perfect and/or creative answers might be complete idiots.

  4. If an employer asked me these questions, I’d say “thank you for chosing me for the interview. I feel I may not be the person you are looking for to fill this position.” Then I would stand up, ofer my hand, and say goodbye.

    • haha! good one! i agree these interview questions are crap. And even if i HAD to take the job if anyone was to ask me THESE silly questions then i would walk out without a job too.

  5. Yet another iteration of the Interview 2.0 techniques that were proven to be absolute crap when they originated with Microsoft. “How many manhole covers are there are New York City.”

    How about these questions…. “Does your mother know you are a serial killer?”

  6. The suggested responses are apparently geared toward a traditional business environment. If I were interviewing a candidate for the work I do and they gave me those type of responses, I’d hire someone else.

    I do remember years ago someone I knew who was applying for a resident assistant position in a dorm got asked what he’d do with a coconut shell. He came up with a couple amusing ideas. He got the job.

  7. This is more evidence that an interviewer can and will discriminate and hire whoever they want. Interview response and qualifications are a false and moving shell-game joke. Besides job fit and overqualification, another trick is two pages of job requirements that no one can meet, and qualify for, therefore allowing interviewers to hire friends or beginners. How about requiring graduation dates on applications to date you and discriminate? Where is government?

  8. Continuation of “A Rowboat” comments:

    I have had applications (on-line) that actually asked for my date of birth xx/xx/xxxx.

    In addition, a number of on-line application sites ask for my SSN. I understand that they may want to run a background check but is it just me or isn’t that something that would be started when the selection of candidates has been reduced to the company’s level of best canidates.

    With the economy as it is, I do not beleive a company would spend the money on a background check for hundreds (thousands?) of initial applicants. Why would they not hold off on this issue until reducing the pool down to a managable level?

  9. No, I don’t believe in UFOs. The Bible says, “Go ye into all THE world, and preach the gospel to EVERY creature” (Mark 16:15).

    In other words, “EVERY” creature is in “THE” world: EARTH. Jesus created it. He did NOT create other creatures on other worlds.

    Case closed.

    P.S.: “UFOs” are actually NOT nuts-and-bolts spaceships. They are demonic entities trying to pass themselves off as “aliens,” and trying to preach the religion of “Evolutionism.”

  10. Oh, my gosh, David LaFleche is just plain weird. Of course there are other worlds, probably with other creatures on them. Nowhere in the Bible does it say, “And, Jesus did NOT create other worlds.”

  11. And, PS, UFO’s are definitely NOT alines trying to preach the religion of “Evolutionism.” What is the matter with you, David? Perhaps you should see someone about your delusions. I’m worried about you.

  12. “David Lafleche” is apparently a very rigid thinker, hemmed in by several of his religious beliefs. He apparently doesn’t believe in Mercury, Venus, Mars, Jupiter, Uranus, Neptune, Pluto, Sedna (fairly recently discovered), and the rest of the outer planets in the solar system. I don’t “believe” in UFOs, but have an open mind.

  13. I think these questions could be a useful tool for the interviewer. If I was interviewing someone, I certainly would love to know the candidates answers! I’ve never had questions like this in an interview, but if I did, I would answer them HONESTLY and explain my answers (and also use it as a chance to show my great sense of humor and open mindedness)…not give some canned “how-everything-relates-to-this-job” answer (snore…BORING).

  14. The questions are a novel way to judge character and critical thinking. Yeah, it’s a game, but winners know how to adapt and participate in it.

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  18. as the interviewer; I have made it a practice on the 1st go around to spend the 1st & last 5 minutes with a candidate before they see the next 3 people within my staff (minimum).

    I tell them what each one of the staff is going to be looking for, focused on and interest in their background. In some cases, I tell them some of the questions (’cause their is a script) that will be asked. Some actually think I am giving them a line to see what their reaction is.

    At the end of one session, one candiate indicated same and thanked me for giving her this heads-up and decided she was not really qualified for the position. Unlike Human Resources my job is to screen people in – not simply screen them out.

  19. Maybe I’m too literal, but if you ask me a question like that, I’m going to try to answer the question not give you some canned crap about business.

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  24. Jesus did not create the earth.  God created the universe.  People were only told that Jesus was the son of God by other people.  His comment clearly shows he doen’t know what he is talking about.

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