We all have a working knowledge of the tried-and-true interview questions, the ones we dread and the ones we can prepare for. But what happens when an interviewer throws you a curve ball that you couldn’t possibly prepare for?
If you’ve ever gone on a job interview, you probably know some of the most commonly asked, standard questions. There are multiple websites and books out there to help you prepare for these. And, frankly, you should have a working answer for them because they’re so frequently asked and cover a lot of ground for an employer:
- Why are you the best candidate for the job?
- What interests you the most about this position?
- What are your biggest strengths and weaknesses?
- What questions do you have for us?
You may get behavioral questions as well, based on how you dealt with situations in the past. These give an indication as to how you solve problems and handle adversity:
- Tell me about a time when you had to deal with a difficult situation. How did you deal with it and what did you learn from it?
- Describe a situation that you wish you had handled differently.
- Tell me about a creative solution you came up with to solve a problem.
- What are three words your boss/best friend would use to describe you? What would he/she say are your greatest strengths and weaknesses?
Then, there are the newer, more off-the-wall questions. Just when you’ve gotten comfortable responding to the old faithfuls listed above, having prepared and thought about possible answers, you may get one of these:
- If you could be a superhero, what superpowers would you like to have?
- If you won $20 million in the lottery, what would you do with the money?
- If you had six months with no obligations or financial constraints, what would you do with the time?
- If you were a salad, what kind of dressing would you be?
- How do I rate as an interviewer?
No, interviewers don’t ask these types of questions to see you squirm (hopefully). Of course, there is no right answer; they’re trying to assess something completely different. They want to see how well you compose yourself and respond, your creativity and even your humor, and your thought process itself – how do you think about such an unusual question? They want to catch a glimpse of an unrehearsed, honest answer. Interviewers know you’ve prepared — what happens when you have to think on your feet?