Three recruiters reveal the most bizarre questions trainees have been asked at interviews, and how to answer them.
As any jobseeker can tell you, achieving the perfect job interview is no easy feat, but that feat becomes even harder if an interviewer throws in some ‘curveball’ questions that, on the surface at least, seem to make no sense.
We ask three leading recruitment experts to share the funniest questions they have heard in interview situations – and what exactly the interviewer is looking for in a candidate’s response.
Question: What animal are you most like – and why?
This question is an indirect way of asking you to describe what sort of person you are. Think about the organisation you are interviewing for – would they be looking for something versatile or would loyalty and working hard be their main priorities?
Question: How many hospitals are there in the UK?
With this sort of question the answer is not important. The interviewer wants you to demonstrate that you can think complex problems through logically.
You should talk about the process you would go through to find the right answer. Start with what facts you have and then work the problem through – for example, ‘I know the population of London is roughly eight million and if I searched online for “hospitals in London” and look at the number of hits as a proportion of the population in London, I could then access the UK population from census data and apply the same proportion to arrive at a final answer.’
Question: How would you get an elephant into a fridge?
The interviewer is looking for creativity in your answer here or a sense of humour. How you deal with the questions is usually the aim and can help to build rapport with the interviewer.
Try to relax and answer as if you were discussing the answer with a friend. Questions like these can throw you so take your time when answering; interviewers know you won’t have a rehearsed answer so won’t mind if you take a minute and think logically. Your mere acceptance to answer the question and desire to come up with a sound response might encourage the interviewer to think you are willing to tackle new problems.
Question: How would you go about finding a purple monkey?
This question is testing the candidate’s ability to ask effective questions and reason logically – ie how tall does the monkey have to be? Can it be a toy? Does it have to be real? Can you dye it? Does it have to be dead or alive?
Question: It is the end of the second week and people are gathering around the water cooler. What would the gossip be about you?
This question is testing self-awareness – how do you want to be perceived by the company and how would you deal with confrontation?
Question: You are throwing a dinner party and are inviting five guests, who can be from the past or present. Who would you invite and why?
This question is testing your analytical process, finding out about the real you and your interests. Be aware that you are showcasing your depth – ie if you mention you would bring the entire Big Brother cast, unless you are interviewing for a PR or reality journalist, you may get a few raised eyebrows. Have a broad range to show your interests in current affairs and history, but remain true to yourself.
Consider these real-life responses from hiring managers who were asked to name the strangest things they had ever heard of happening in a job interview:
While it is unlikely you will make mistakes like these, it helps to prepare before interviewing with a prospective employer. There are several tips to help you make a good first impression: