The sweat secreting thought of a looming interview. You prepare thoroughly; giving yourself a mental workout in anticipation for those questions and scenarios you expect. ‘Give an example of a time you demonstrated leadership’. ‘Where do you see yourself in three years?’ ‘What would you do in this situation?’ As you prepare for all potential questions you’re likely to hear, you may then become head-throbbingly startled when your prospective employer/s then unexpectedly asks you ‘If you were an animal, what animal would you be and why?’ I know you might be thinking ‘Any animal that’s not in this room’ but you need a better response. These types of tricky interview questions are becoming more frequently used and tend to reveal a lot to an interviewer. It’s good to be aware and somewhat prepared for these potential headscratchers and so here are some examples.
The ‘If you were an [x], what [x] would you be?’
Question; ‘If you were a superhero, which superhero would you be and why?’ Much like the animal one hinted above, the employer pretty much wants you thinking analytically about the thing you have been asked to choose. What are the strengths, weaknesses and defining qualities of the animal/superhero/vehicle/fruit/etc’. You need to think cleverly and choose those with ingenuously applicable traits to your desirable attributes which make you a highly employable candidate. However, try to be a little different rather than choosing the answer they’ve heard three times before from other interviewed candidates.
The Desirable Scenario
Question; ‘If you had £1M, what would do with it?’ With this question, employers want to know how you deal with power and/or positions of responsibility. ‘What would you change if you were the manager of this company?’ Do you have eclectic, innovative and unique ideas? Do you have natural leadership qualities? This is a chance to demonstrate these and describe your method/s of doing so in the process. Don’t say ‘nothing’ or provide a minimal response as this gives the impression you have nothing to bring to the business or organisation you’re wishing to be a part of.
The Negative Scenario
Question; ‘Give an example of when you failed at something’. These types of questions really are tricky. You go to an interview with the obvious intention to paint the picture that you are the most employable candidate and are successful in all your endeavours. It’s then difficult to answer ‘What are your three biggest weaknesses’ when all you want to do is list your ‘many, many’ strengths. You can skilfully pick weaknesses which could be perceived as strengths, a popular method of approaching such questions. You can also use it as an opportunity acknowledge any things the interviewer may be worried about, i.e. inexperience. Again, you can say ‘However, this allows me too…’ and spin it into a positive point.
The Downright Bizarre Scenario
Question; ‘Would you rather fight a horse-sized duck or 100 duck-sized horses?’ Believe me; I haven’t just made that up. That tricky interview question was asked at global resources company BHP Billiton and I’m sure by other also. These questions are purposely notoriously challenging and peculiar and require a logically and pragmatically devised solution. The vast majority of the time, there is no right or wrong answer. It’s often a case of thinking ‘outside of the box’ and/or in a creative way. So when you’re asked ‘How do you fit a giraffe in a fridge?’ (Again, another genuine question), rather than just say ‘You chop it up and squeeze it in’, you might say ‘You could walk a calf into an industrial fridge’. Both responses do indeed answer the question, but one is a little more intelligent than the other. However, this all depends on your brain’s speed on the day!
The fact is that all of these types of tricky interview questions test your ability to think on your feet. Furthermore, these brainteasers demonstrate your ability to provide professional solutions under pressure. You’re not telling the interviewers you’re good at these things, but demonstrating them. And that’s why they ask them. It’s good to be aware of these types of questions but when they do arise, take your time and think logically. And remember to smile; smiles are contagious!
Feel free to check these sites below to see some more difficult interview questions; all of which have been and/or do genuinely get used on unsuspecting interviewees.
The Telegraph; 25 tough interview questions
About.com; 35 toughest interview questions with answers