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The Secret Behind Those Weird Interview Questions

So, you’re in an interview and things seem to be going smoothly. You’ve talked about how qualified you are, where you see yourself in X years, and even nimbly got around the “why did you leave your last job” question without talking about how you might set your manager on fire if you have to work there another day (just kidding!) – but then you’re hit with the weird interview questions.

This weird, irrational, or random out of left field interview question is something that you’ve never thought about in your life. Things like: “If you were an animal, what would you be?” or “Why is there fuzz on a tennis ball” or, my personal favorite, “Tell me a joke.”

What is going on here? Don’t worry, your interviewer hasn’t lost their mind. There are actually a few underlying reasons for these questions, and it’s not just to watch you squirm. Here are a few things your interviewer might be looking out for:

Evaluating Your Communication Skills with Interview Questions

Especially for jobs that require great communication and people skills being able to respond to unexpected changes is key in a great candidate. You never know when a client, team member, or employee is going to hit you with something unexpected.

Interview Questions to Probe How You Cope with Stress

It’s one thing to say that you’re flexible but it’s a whole other ballgame to see this in action. Sometimes things change on a dime in business, and as an interviewer, I want to see if you’re going to be game to take on a new challenge that is completely outside of your comfort zone. Therefore, I’m going to ask interview questions that you could not possibly have prepared for.

Determining How you Process information and Apply Logic

Picture this: I just asked you how long an elephant’s trunk is. Something you’ve likely never thought about before. Why? Well, I’m paying close attention to what you do next. Do you laugh at me and ask “What?!” in disbelief, do you ask me to repeat the question and bid yourself some time, do you repeat it to yourself? How do you solve the answer – do you confidently say “7 feet”, do you attempt to do some rough math, do you ask more clarifying questions?

These interview questions give insight into how I can expect you to approach information, apply logic, and problem-solve. That’s important to know when you’re thinking about how someone will fit in on the team. Bonus points to the candidates that ask after they answer if they got the question correct.

Challenging Your Grit with Interview Questions

These interview questions are meant to make you stumble. It’s up to your character on how you face the challenge. If you give up in an interview when something is challenging (albeit silly) how can we expect you to face challenges in the workplace? Keep in mind, your answer doesn’t have to be right. Frankly, it hardly has to be coherent in order to move on. But you MUST give it a go.

Read: 6 Things to Look for In a Company Culture…and when to run

Impact on Team Dynamic and Culture

Companies with great cultures want people who are only going to enhance that culture. Often that might mean that candidates need to be able to play along with some ridiculousness. While interviewing for my last job, I honest-to-god got asked speed round questions from my future team like “Hot Cheetos or Takis”, “Team Jacob or Team Edward”, “Do you consider leggings to be pants?”, “If you had to listen to one band for the rest of your life, who would it be?”

It was important to them (and to me) to have the ability to be fun, yes, but also they were looking for a candidate to be decisive and not afraid to explain the “why” behind their decisions. I’d come to find out that was something they were sincerely lacking in leadership at that point and it was a boon to morale that I naturally explained my decisions to them when introducing something new.

Next time you get a weird question (“What do you think is the world’s most popular cheese and why?) try not to sweat it. Smile, laugh a little bit and give it some serious effort. Your answer doesn’t matter a whole lot…it’s all about how you get there 😉

Want some more info on this topic? Check out our podcast Home Run Interviews!

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