They’re Back… Odd Interview Questions

Maybe they never went away, but in recent months, I am hearing more about unusual interview questions. What is your favorite food and why? How many gas stations do you think there are in the U.S.? Batman or Spiderman? What is a good joke you have heard recently?

Many years ago, as a law student interviewing for jobs, I had that first odd question….if you could be any kind of tree, what would you be? Did I say a Mighty Oak or a Giant Redwood? No. Was I offered a call back interview? No.

My answer: A weeping willow tree. Yep. It is my favorite, and it just quickly rolled off my tongue. I provided no explanation except that I love weeping willows. Apparently, very few Biglaw partners want to work with a young lawyer who would aspire to spend her life weeping……go figure.

There may have been no recovery from the weeping willow, but in hindsight, I could have tried. Some humor might have helped.

What should you do when you get the odd question that rattles you a bit?

1) Pause. Repeat the question to yourself – perhaps even out loud. Maybe ask for additional information.

2) Think. What is the interviewer trying to learn? It depends on the interviewer, but generally, they are looking for a range of things: personality, work ethic, culture fit, how you might handle a work challenge, resilience, quick thinking, and/or a sense of humor.

3) Know. Know that the answer itself is typically irrelevant. It is primarily about your thought process and explanation – and maybe even just how well you handle being a bit rattled.

The moral of the story is that an odd interview question can be a curveball, but you can still hit it out of the park (or at least hit a foul and stay in the game :).

What are some odd interview questions you have heard?

Amy McCormack
Founder and Co-President