When preparing for a job interview, most people equip themselves with answers for basic questions that will likely come up. Common examples include:
- “What are your strengths and weaknesses?”
- “Why do you want to work for this company?”
- “Where do you see yourself in five years?”
However, sometimes during a job interview the interviewer can throw out an unusual question that you’re not prepared for in the slightest, which can completely throw you off.
Compiled using resources from employment and recruitment companies like Monster, Glassdoor and Total Jobs, these are the best tips and tricks for answering the most unexpected questions in the best way possible.
‘If you were a tree, what kind of tree would you be?’
The key with this kind of hypothetical question is that there’s no wrong answer, so there’s no need to panic.
What employers are trying to gauge here is your ability to think on your feet and your creativity.
When thinking about your answer, you should take into consideration the job you’re applying for and the key parts of yourself that you want to get across to interviewers. You could say something along the lines of, “I would be an oak tree, because I am strong and dependable.”
‘Tell us a joke’
This question can trip people up because it’s not as easy to try and steer your answer in the direction of the role - but the good news is, you don’t have to.
Interviewers aren’t expecting you to have a joke tucked away that perfectly outlines how you’re perfect for the position you’re applying for. Instead, they’re testing your ability to think on your feet. They also want to get an idea of your sense of humour, since this could inform how well you fit into the team.
Thankfully, this question is easy to prepare for - pick a joke, any joke, and have it memorised and ready to go. You should probably stick with something short and sweet so that it’s easy to remember, and something inoffensive like a cheesy pun or a knock knock joke.
‘What would you spend the money on if you won the lottery?’
This kind of question will give employers a glimpse into your personality, but, again, there isn’t really a right or wrong answer.
Do consider the job and the type of industry you’re interviewing for, however, and try and incorporate those elements into your answer.
When it comes to answering these types of unusual questions, always take a minute to think about your question and the answer rather than rushing and risking an answer that doesn’t make sense.
The interviewers are likely expecting these questions to trip you up, so saying something like, “That’s a good question, I’ll need to think about that” to buy yourself some time is expected.
‘What’s your favourite flavour of ice cream?’
Your answer of “vanilla” or “chocolate” is not going to be what determines whether you get the job or not - but being able to justify your answer could.
Monster advises, “Your explanation is what’s of particular interest to hiring managers. Do you seize up at these questions, or can you relax a bit and engage with the interviewer with a short, entertaining story to justify your answer?”
‘What superpower would you like to have?’
This type of question lets you communicate what kind of work ethic you have to your interviewers in a fun way.
Being able to tie your answer into an example about your work ethic is always a plus. Example answers could be something along the lines of, “Super speed, so I could get to work faster and complete all my work in half the time.”
Although if tying your answer into a statement about your ability to do the job you’re interviewing for is too much of a stretch, then don’t get stressed about it - the key thing is having a fun answer.