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How to Hit Curveball Interview Questions Out of the Park

If you were an animal, what kind of animal would you be?” Or how about, “What is your favorite song and can you perform it for me now?

Actual interview questions, you ask?

Yep.

They’ve been asked in real live interviews.

Once I got, “Sell this this brick to me,” as the interviewer shoved a heavy clinker in front of my face.

Now, I know you. You’ve spent a lot of time preparing for the “Top 25 Most Commonly Asked Interview Questions” (or 50, or perhaps 100—you over-achiever, you…) You may have even written out your answers and edited them. Then, to make sure you didn’t sound too scripted, you conducted a mock interview with a friend or your friendly career coach.

But nothing can really prepare you for those strange questions that come out of nowhere. Or so you think…

1) Ask yourself, “Why are they asking this bizarre question?”

Usually, it is to test your ability to:
– stay calm under pressure
– maintain your confidence
– handle unexpected problems
– respond to a challenge
– think creatively on your feet, or
– show your sense of humor.

Depending on the question, it could be a combination of several of these.

Other times, they may ask unusual questions to try to gain some insight into your personality and values and thus your potential fit in their culture or team. So, although they sound like a joke on the surface—trust me—this interviewer is serious.

2) How can I respond to these types of crazy questions without striking out?

First, you will remain calm and collected and try to act nonplussed. (Yeah, practice in your mirror if you need to…)

Then, why not have some fun with it? It’s usually not what you say but how you go about giving your answer. Leverage this chance to reveal a bit more about you and your personal brand in a fun, new way.

For example, if the interviewer asks “If you were a cake, what kind of cake would you be?” (or car, tree, superhero, etc.) It’s not about your answer—it’s about your rationale behind it. e.g. If you answer “a confetti cake”—explaining that you are “fun, spontaneous and creative”—that may be a good response for a start-up company or marketing job. Or “a chocolate cake” could be “serious, deep, and solid”—and more appropriate for position at a legal or accounting firm.

3) Remember Why You’re at Bat. 

You’ve planned for this meeting. You’re walking in with an agenda—some great talking points that when revealed will convince them that you will add tremendous value to their organization. Take this opportunity to match these unexpected questions with one of your talking points.

This is your face-to-face chance to shine and make a connection with the hiring manager. And now that you know they might try to throw you a curve ball or two, you’ll be prepared to hit a grand slam!