As someone who doesn’t know a Klingon from a Jedi, I’ve watched in bewilderment as friends have debated which franchise is superior: “Star Wars” or “Star Trek.” Normally, I feign interest for a few minutes and then tune out when someone begins to imitate Yoda. The next time I’m in this situation, I might start taking notes instead.
Interviewers, tired of asking the same old questions again and again, are posing unique questions to job seekers. Some that seemingly have no right answer, and job seekers have reported being asked which they prefer, “Star Wars” or “Star Trek.” We’re not talking about the usual head scratchers or about jobs where this information is relevant, such as a comics store or special effects studio. No, organizations of all sizes and in a variety of industries are posing unusual questions to their interviewees.
Zappos.com, the online shoe seller known for its relaxed culture and quirky employees, has one of the more interesting applications you’re likely to see. According to Christa Foley, a recruiting manager for the company, you might be asked any of the following:
- If you were a superhero, who would you be and why?
- If every time you entered a room your theme song played, what would it be and why?
- On a scale of 1-10, how weird are you? Why did you choose that number?
- What was your best MacGyver moment?
- If you saw someone steal a quarter, would you report it? If not, what dollar amount would you report?
Unusual, right? Aside from the last question, which conceivably factors into your trustworthiness, the others are fun and allow you to be creative. These brain teasers are usually used so that employers can see how your mind works, but they also make you wonder if the employer is taking you seriously or just messing with you.
What to say
Now, we’ve dispensed a lot of advice here on The Work Buzz when it comes to handling interview questions and asking them. Find a few examples here, here, here and here. But sometimes even we can’t give you the right answers for truly unorthodox questions. As with brain teasers, these weird questions don’t always have a right or wrong answer.
As a rule, you should approach unusual interview questions with the following mindset:
- Is it illegal or unethical? If so, feel free to stand up and walk out. (You don’t want to work for that kind of boss, do you?)
- Is there a right or wrong answer?
- What is my answer? Why?
- Why didn’t I choose the other options or answer differently?
What matters is that you answer the question and articulate your reasoning. You can’t predict how the interviewer will react, so the best you can do it answer confidently. If the interviewer cringes when you say “Star Wars” instead of “Star Trek” and shows you out of the interviewer room, you’re not to blame.
Recently, we asked job seekers if they had experienced any unusual or flat-out weird interview questions. Judging by the responses you wrote on Facebook and Twitter, these questions might be odd but they’re not rare. In fact, they seem to be commonplace in interview, but they’re no less surprising when you’re put on the spot.
Unfortunately, we don’t have space to put every unusual question you submitted, but we do have space for some of the most unique. Here are some true-life questions job seekers have been asked while interviewing.
“I was once asked what I would bring if the department had a potluck.” - Amanda L.
“If you were a sea creature, what would you be and why?” - Jay D.
“What color is your brain?” - Connie B.
“If you were a professional wrestler, what would your stage name be?” - Alyssa Giustino, KEH Communications
“How many airplanes are in the skies over the US right now?” - Timothy R. Yee, Green Retirement Plans, Inc.
“How would you open the locked and sealed window in this hotel room?” - Yee
“I was asked, if I went to the moon and can only bring three things, what would I bring? Oxygen and food were already provided. I said my bed — had a great mattress then– my friends and a dog.” - Cindy Holtzman, Medical Refund Service, Inc.
“I was asked if I knew how to make explosives, [right] after 9/11, in an interview for an administrative assistant position.” - @danileo1
“What kind of car do you drive?” - Susan C.
“Will you file my fingernails?” (For a position at a church.) - Autrey K.
“I interviewed for a [job] waiting tables and the manager wanted to know how I would eat an ice cream cone.” - Peggy M.
“I was asked what my grade point average was in college. I have a BS, MS, Ph.D. and spent two and a half years as a postdoctoral scholar in a government research lab.” - Charles T.
“If you had been on the Titanic would you have been in a row boat, on the ship, or freezing in the water? If you were a Spice Girl, what would you call yourself? How would you feel about doing small personal errands like dog-sitting or buying gifts for my ‘lady friends?’” (All from the same interview.) - Trina Rimmer, TrinaRimmer.com
“I was asked what I did the day prior from the moment I got up until the moment I went to bed.” - Moisés I.
“Who won the Super Bowl last year?” - Kevin D.
The illegal, unethical or potentially both
“So, are you married or whatever?” - @KYProgressive
“Kids you don’t have one of those, do you?” - Lois C.
“Have you ever used state assistance?” - Katie L.
“Do you have migraines? Do you have small children? Do you like long vacations?” – Krishna S.
“Do you attend church? What is your denomination?” - Katie B.
“Do you spank your child?” - Karen
“The strangest question I received was in regards to astrology. He was a real estate agent you wanted to know my date, time and where I was born. He wanted to see if we were a match. Needless to say I didn’t get the job.” - Teresa Turner, Examer.com
“Are you gonna stay or just practicing for the next job?” - @soyflz
“Where do you see yourself globally?” - Andrew B.
“What is a secret about you that no one knows?” - Daniel S.
“If we were in a party, which guy would I be, the shy guy sitting alone or rocking on the dance floor?” - Elio T.
“If we asked you to wear a bumble bee costume, walk around and hand out candy to employees, would you do it?” - Lisa M.
I was asked “If you opened your sock drawer, what would it look like?” - Nancy Dahl. SheTaxi
“So if I were to go out and get a few drinks with your friends, what would they tell me about you?” - Kristin Rose
“What is your favorite movie?” - @DMRyan711
“What’s the funniest Youtube video you have seen lately?” - @byuboston
“What wine do you drink? What is your favorite bouquet?” - @Durudarshan
“Which Winnie the Pooh character do you relate with the most and why?” - Celie H.
“If you were a Disney character, what character would you be and why?” - Jayne S.
“If a movie was made about your life, who would play you and why?” - @tofuti2001
“If you were a tree, what kind of tree would you be?” - Jerry h.
“I was once asked if my closet was organized” - Crissy Landreth
What have we learned? First, employers shouldn’t be asking about an employee’s family planning, so that needs to stop. But we also learned that you can’t only prepare for the standard interview questions anymore. When you’re practicing your handshake and ironing your clothes the night before the interview, think about how you would react to these unexpected questions.
Or have you already been on the receiving these questions? “Star Wars” or “Star Trek?” Let us know what odd questions you’ve been asked and how you answered them.