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Tired of canned and predictable answers like “I am a hard worker” and “I am thrilled by the new opportunity to learn” at job interviews? You should consider asking oddball questions.
While they may seem pointless, they can actually be more telling than the straightforward interview questions most employers use – as long as they are used correctly.
Glassdoor’s annual report of the top 10 toughest interview questions for 2016 uncovered the following:
1. “Which magic power would you like to have?” – Topshop sales assistant job candidate.
2. “If you were a fruit, what kind would you be and why?” – Topdeck Travel trip leader job candidate.
3. “If you could have dinner with three actors that are no longer living, who would you pick?” – Blackberry commercial director job candidate.
4. “How many hours would it take to clean every single window in London?” – IBM IT role job candidate.
5. “How do you get an elephant in a fridge?” – Gemalto software engineer job candidate.
6. “If the time is quarter past three, what is the angle measurement on the clock?” – Standard Bank Group product control lead job candidate.
7. “If you had three minutes alone in a lift with the CEO, what would you say?” – Network Rail management accountant job candidate.
8. “How many people born in 2013 were named Gary?” – BT senior proposition manager job candidate
9. “What will you be famous for?” – EY director job candidate.
10. “How many nappies are purchased per year in the UK?” – AVIVA graduate programme job candidate.
According to Glassdoor , more challenging interviews upfront are associated with higher employee satisfaction later on. So it is not a bad idea trying to put you candidate in a little sticky situation.
Tiffany Wong, associate director, HR and transactional services divisions, Robert Walters Hong Kong has had candidates inform her of cases where they were asked questions unrelated to the job at all.
“Candidates told me they were asked personal questions by the interviewer, such as ‘How do you handle a bad relationship?’ and ‘Have you experienced a bad break-up?’,” she said.
Wong explained that asking out of context questions is a way for employers to differentiate candidates who are able to think on their feet and have a open mind, two traits sought after in today’s job market. “Interviewers are not looking for a perfect answer, rather they want to see how candidates react.”
She added that asking oddball questions is not a common among local (Hong Kong) employers and she does not see a growing trend of it.
Mark Jaffe, president of executive search firm Wyatt & Jaffe pointed out that if interviewers throw out strange questions just for the sake of doing it, this will be pointless.
According to Jaffe, if the employer uses bizarre questions just to throw candidates off their game or trick them, then it won’t be useful in trying to get them to share something beyond their prepared answers.
“The idea is to get people to relax their defences and dredge up something that may not be in their immediate repertoire for an interview,” he said.