Imagine that you have finally landed an interview with a company you admire. You, being the good applicant, carefully prepare answers to potential questions. You go into the interview feeling good and then out of the blue, you get hit with “If you were a box of cereal, what would you be and why?” These types of oddball questions unfortunately, are becoming more common as jobs become more and more competitive. Below are three possible reasons why employers are asking these types of questions.

1. Assess the fit- One of the most difficult areas for interviewers to determine is cultural fit. Will an applicant be able to assimilate into the organization’s unique personality? Questions such as “If you were a piece of furniture, what would you be and why?” gives interviewers some indication of your personality. They are not specifically looking for a “right” answer but a response that demonstrates how you would interact with others. For example, you might answer this question by saying, “I would be a coffee table because people gather around a coffee table to visit. I enjoy talking with others and understanding their points of view.” You are giving the interviewer clues to as to how you would interact in the workplace.

2. See how you think on your feet- Another difficult task for interviews is to determine if the applicant has the ability to problem solve on the fly. They may ask a question such as "How many square feet of pizza is eaten in the US each year?" Again, there is no “right” answer. Interviewers are listening to hear your process for solving difficult problems. In answering this type of question, take the interviewers along in your thought process. Tell them what assumptions you have set up to solve the problem (such as the average American eats 1/3 of a pizza and eats it 3 times a month). Explain the calculations you are using (such as a pizza is roughly 1 square foot which would be 12 square feet a year times 300 M Americans equaling 3.6 billion square feet). Don’t concern yourself with a perfect answer. Your overall goal would be to show the interviewers that you have the ability to logically think through a problem to solve it.

3. See if you think outside of the box- Many companies are desperate to find employees who are innovative and aren’t afraid to go beyond what is currently possible. This is a difficult ability to assess so interviewers may ask questions designed to see if you are creative. The question might be “If you could throw a parade of any caliber through the office what type of parade would it be?” In these types of questions, don’t be afraid to use your imagination. Have a little fun and see how creative you can be.

Although weird questions are hard to prepare for, you can do some research to make them a little easier. Find out what the company values. Is the company an innovator in their field? Do they thrive on creativity? Talk to people familiar with the organization. Find out what makes the company unique. Think through the characteristics of what would best fit into their culture. Above all, don’t let oddball questions throw you, think of them as ways you can allow your creativity to shrine through.

Author's Bio: 

Stacy Harshman, founder of Your Fulfilling Life, brings her experience as a recruiter for a Fortune 500 corporation to her work as a career coach. In addition to helping people discover their passions, she also provides clients with insight into the mind of a recruiter, unlocking the secrets of what employers look for in potential employees. Stacy offers individual and group coaching in person and by phone to those seeking positive change in their professional lives.
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