Most interviews include one or more “conventional” questions, like “Tell us about yourself,” “How do you handle conflict?”, or “What is your greatest weakness?” However, interviewers are increasingly moving away from questions like those into new territory. Newer questions may be job-specific or may focus on drawing out aspects of a prospective employee’s behavior. They may also, at first glance, be “quirky” questions.
How should you respond when an interview question is decidedly non-conventional? Here are five “quirky” interview questions and tips on how to answer them:
- “What song best describes your work ethic?” Any question that asks you to compare some seemingly-unrelated item to your work ethic is trying to determine how much you value hard, sustained work. Remember that you’re in a job interview, and think of songs that describe your commitment and dedication to your work. For instance, Survivor’s “Eye of the Tiger” may be a better choice than Alice Cooper’s “School’s Out.”
- “How would people communicate in a perfect world?” This question tests not only your “soft skills” in communication, but also seeks to determine how you communicate best with others and how you combine inspiration and practicality to solve problems. Instead of describing a truly “perfect world,” think about communication challenges in this world and show how those can be addressed in the workplace you’re seeking to join.
- “How would you rate your memory?” Very few people will rate their own memory a perfect 10. Instead, talk about how you compensate for shortcomings in your memory by describing how you create and use processes to help you remember important events, details, and facts. Connect your use of this “memory support” to your work by showing how it helped you complete important work.
- “What do you think of garden gnomes?” Like the question about the song that describes your work ethic, this question isn’t really about gnomes. It’s about how you think on your feet, respond to offbeat ideas, and work with a team. Offer a lighthearted answer that ties back into your work or the organization: “I think they create an opportunity to discover the unexpected, which can really liven up a garden – just like, when we see a work problem in an unexpected way, we can sometimes generate surprising results.”
- “On a scale from 1 to 5, how weird are you?” When you hear “weird,” think “creative” or “innovative” – and talk about how your own unique perspective has helped you solve problems or succeed in your field. For example, you might describe a time when the rest of your team thought your focus on a particular issue was “weird,” but it turned out that your focus was in exactly the right place.