Everyone acknowledges that imagination is important. Without it, innovation doesn’t exist. Ditto truly effective problem-solving. But having to demonstrate your abilities to make believe during an interview is stressful at best. That’s part of the plan, of course — hiring managers ask these interview questions in the hopes that they’ll force you to demonstrate that you’re able to be creative under pressure.
These weird curveball questions come and go in terms of popularity, but if you want to be truly prepared for your next interview, it’s a good idea to be ready to demonstrate that you can think on your feet.
Imagine Yourself as Something Weird
A few variations on this theme include:
“Not me, but my uncle [was asked], ‘If you were a tree, what kind of tree would you be?’ His answer, after a brief pause: ‘A money tree.’ – AnInjuriousGraffito on Reddit
“If you were a crayon, what color would you be and why?” – Shysimone on Reddit
“If you were a Muppet, which character would you be?”?- a Donor Family Advocate, LifeNet Health, as quoted on CNBC
Imagine Yourself at Google
Notorious for years for its tough interview process, Google has since ended its tradition of asking the weirdest of the weird questions at an interview. Here are some notable examples:
“You are shrunk to the height of a nickel and your mass is proportionally reduced so as to maintain your original density. You are then thrown into an empty glass blender. The blades will start moving in 60 seconds. What do you do?” – As noted in Business Insider
At a recent conference, an attendee asked Alphabet chairman Eric Schmidt one of the formerly standard curveball questions from a Google interview: “You’re the captain of a pirate ship and you find a chest of gold. Your crew gets to vote on how the gold is divided up. If fewer than half the pirates agree with you, you die. How do you recommend apportioning the gold in such a way that you get a good share of the booty but will survive?”
Job seekers, take heart: Quartz reports that he “struggled to answer” it.
Interview question: 'If you were a tree, what kind of tree would you be?' Answer: 'A money tree.'
Imagine An Even Weirder Question
Reddit user nowaygreg related: “I was given LEGOs (yeah, LEGOs) and asked to create my dream job. Then they said things like, ‘I see you put yourself off-center. What does that represent?’ and ‘Is there any significance to the structure being taller than you?'”
“I don’t work for them,” he added. When asked what kind of firm it was, he followed up: “It was a manufacturing company that made pipes, fittings, valves, and other things for the oil fields. They apparently do this for every applicant from engineer to warehouse people.”
A Reddit user with a numerical name 11181514 related a weird question that turned into a job offer. They asked:
“What is your favorite cheese, and how is it better than say, provolone?”
“I went on this rant about cheese for a solid five minutes,” 11181514 said. “Talking about how the process for making each is different and that in provolone a lot of the natural flavors are lost, highlighting the health benefits of a naturally aged cheddar, etc. At the end he said something along the lines of, ‘Wow you really know a lot about cheese,’ to which I said, ‘I have no idea what I was talking about, I just made all that up.'”
End result: “Got the job!”
When asked what kind of job it was, they said it wasn’t sales, as someone guessed. “See that would’ve made sense … it was a software support position,” they said. “The hiring managers had just gone to some interview workshop thing and this was one of the questions they were supposed to ask. Ability to sell had nothing to do with the job.”
“It was customer-facing and required problem solving, so maybe that was the thought process. I don’t know, it was a weird place.”
Imagine Yourself Leaving the Interview Quickly
Finally, it’s worth noting that not every offbeat question is harmless. Sometimes the questions are too weird, inappropriate, or downright illegal. Make sure you know the difference.
Tell Us What You Think
Have you been asked some humdingers in an interview? We want to hear! Comment below or join the discussion on Twitter!