How to understand the real question behind each interview question.

10 Tricky Job Interview Questions That Drive Job Seekers Crazy
Photo credit: Jared

This is a guest post by Lynn Tulip.

Job interviewers' bizarre, random, out of the box questions may not be politically correct but there’s always some panel member who wants to ask them and they sure need an answer.

Being asked obscure questions along the lines of “You’re a carrot in a salad and a fork is coming towards you. You’re about to be eaten. What do you do?” can actually undermine you. I mean, would you scream? What image does that leave the interviewer with?

So the recruiter/interviewer wants to get to know you better and attempts a gut-feel of how you will fit in culturally and whether you are a likable person.

They think that by asking strange searching questions they will discover how you perform, behave and react in business situations. They are digging deep in the hope that they get a rational, honest and fresh response from you.

However, your answers could be counterproductive.

Did you practice answering job interview questions before your last interview?

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What do you say?

Are you candid, open and frank?

Do you inject humor and jokes into your answers?

Don’t sabotage your job opportunity. Be prepared.

Always keep in mind what the job interviewer is looking for. Yes, give personal instinctive answers – with the caveat that you understand some of the reasoning behind the question.

Always keep in mind what the job interviewer is looking forClick To Tweet

What does the interviewer want to hear?

Below are some questions that might be fielded, that could bowl you over alongside some ideas about what the rationale is for asking them:

1. If you won $1M today what would you do with it?

How altruistic are you?

What are your values?

Do you have a work ethic?

2. What am I doing wrong as an interviewer?

Can you give constructive valuable feedback?

Without criticizing say what you would you do differently?

3. Who is your role model? Why?

Talk about their personal characteristics and relate them to your own.


4. How does your boss rate as a manager?

Don’t diss your boss, or give a percentage rating.

Rather, discuss qualities like making decisions, empowering the team, providing leadership and influencing others, etc.

5. Why did you choose to wear your outfit today?

Again, this is looking at your values, confidence and respect, motivation.

Talk about corporate image and projection.

6. How do you stack a dishwasher?

How does anyone stack a dishwasher? Think about managing the task, structure and order.

Perhaps don’t mention that your partner always does it.

7. Who in the public eye would you like to punch?

Ok, so you say you are NOT going to punch anyone, but who and what rattles your cage?

Think carefully about how to respond.

Would it be a political advocate whose policies you disagree with? Or perhaps some punk who dresses and performs in an outrageous way?

Either way, you need to show tolerance, understanding and that you value individuals.

8. If you did not have to work, what would you do?

What’s your motivation?

Would you sit around or travel, do volunteer work or care for others?


9. What would your last meal be?

So now the question’s a bit personal – are you a gourmand or a gourmet?

A health conscious or a fast-food addict?

There’s no right or wrong answer, think about the culture of the organization you might be working with for synergy.

10. If you could be any car/animal, what would you be?

(In the comments below, James thought this sounds like a call center interview question. I thought that was funny)

“I’d be a red Ferrari as I’m fast, dynamic and can beat others.” Not necessarily the right answer unless you’ve applied for a quick fire competitive position. However, if you are a pussy cat and need to be lion, then you might need to reflect on their qualities to suit the role in question.

Here's a live example:

Read Carolyn Horlor‘s answer to What is the strangest question you have been asked in a job interview? on Quora


Interviewers are looking for hints about your motivation, your skill at dealing with people and your ability to respond when challenged – and of course, how it relates to the job you are applying for. They want to know you will be happy in the role and that others will be content to work with you.

READ NEXT: Job Interviews: How You Can Benefit By Asking Questions

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About the Author

Lynn TulipLynn Tulip is a career management and HR professional running her own HR consultancy. She’s worked with numerous job search candidates and has presented job search topics at different conferences. Find her online or follow her @LynnTulip and @A4P_HR.

This article was part of the Over $5000 in Prizes: The 5th Annual JobMob Guest Blogging Contest, which was made possible thanks in large part to our sponsors:

JOBlog Marcus Tandler’s JOBlog is Germany’s oldest blog about job search & careers.
Rabbi Issamar Ginzberg Rabbi Issamar Ginzberg is an internationally acclaimed advisor to successful business owners, known for his small business ideas.

Subscribe to JobMob via RSS or email and follow me on Twitter for more tips about right answers to tough job interview questions.

Jacob Share

Job Search Expert, Professional Blogger, Creative Thinker, Community Builder with a sense of humor. I like to help people.

This Post Has 61 Comments

  1. Elaine

    This is really useful stuff, it certainly makes you think around the qualities that you need to consider about yourself and others before an interview – of any kind. Thanks Lyn!

  2. Sarah Arrow

    Hi Lynn, good reasoning behind why you are being asked those questions. I do think thice about hiring someone who always disses their boss, they seem like a moaner and life is too short to employ them

  3. Jane Hatton

    I do think these are unfair questions for an interviewer to ask, but we know that some do, so it’s great that people can read this article and at least be prepared for them. Excellent article with some really good advice!

  4. Mitch Sullivan

    If candidates are getting asked questions like this then my advice would be to walk out of the interview.

  5. Yolanda

    Great stuff Lynn!

    Love the carrot salad part.

  6. sally

    Funnily enough, I have been asked some of these questions at interview and wasn’t fased by them as it does allow for some creativity and forces you to think quickly.

  7. Sarah G

    Okay, so what DO you answer for the carrot in the salad question? You’re obviously screwed, so you take it gracefully? 🙂

  8. Shaun GIsbourne

    Interesting post and what oddball questions. I speak as the closet dishwasher loading expert 🙂

    Do you think if they’re going to ask such questions that they’d be better in a psychometric test?

  9. Lynn Tulip

    Thanks for your comments. Interviewing is a hard call; and ok @Mitch, you’d tell your candidate to walk out, however it might be that your candidate is up for the role and wants the job. There’s nothing wrong in thinking out of the box and having tongue in cheek.

    @Shaun, so you like order, clarity and can prioritise? My recommendation would almost always be to use a psychometric test in conjunction with a recruitment process. CV/resumes and interviews do not always highlight behaviours and characteristics which can be flaws.

    @Sarah, a potential candidate that sounds off against former boss, colleagues and company can be very bad news. You are wise to give them a wide berth.

  10. Lynn Tulip

    @Jane – these are truly politically incorrect questions which should not be used. Generally NFP and Government posts would be well advised and not include anything like this in their process. However, some private sector companies still run the risk of claims against them in their recruitment strategies.

    @Yolanda – thanks!

    @Sally – you are right, creativity comes into to the responses. Thinking on your feet and being able to answer fluently without hesitation puts you ahead of the game.

  11. Linda Mattacks

    Crikey – Imagine boning up on the company and what skills, experience and aptitudes you bring to the role and then being faced with questions like these!

    I think to the carrot question I’d say I’d hide behind the biggest tomatoes I could find… and fire at ‘the enemy’ from there. Because I’d be figuring by then that ONE of us could probably do with a session or two on a psychiatrist’s couch, and I didn’t reckon it was me…

    By the way, Lynn: What’s your view on a job interviewer Googling an applicant prior to interview?

  12. Bernard

    Mitch is write.

    These are crass questions thought up by someone who thinks they are being clever. Where is the evidence that asking such nonsense improves the chances of getting a better candidate?

    They are also questions loaded with assumptions that for many will be false.

  13. James

    I think the principle of asking certain types of questions to get to know a candidate better is sound but the questions would need to be thought through and matched to the experience of the job offering.

    ‘What type of car / animal’ belongs in a Ricky Gervais script. Would they have to make the animal’s noise after they give their answer? Might work for call centre candidates, I suppose.

  14. Pingback: Who is interviewing who? |

  15. Rhiannon Hill

    All this is assuming the interviewers know what they are doing. The best response when asked a question you don’t understand at an interview is: I don’t understand this question. At least they’ll know you’re honest and your integrity is intact.
    Last time I went for a formal job interview – by SIX people vs. me which is, frankly, abusive, for a job doing PR for a alcohol unit at a large hospital, my final question was: When we are working with alcohol problems who is most important?
    I am not a social worker, and I was there for a public relations job. I have no experience of child protection except as a foster carer. The answer I realised afterwards is, of course, children, but at the time my head was around how to promote the alcohol service. I said, I’m sorry, I simply do not understand what you are getting at.
    I’m glad I didn’t have the answer, these people were idiots, the question was not relevant to me and I wouldn’t have liked working with them.

  16. Lynn Tulip

    Integrity and honesty in the interview is paramount. Well done, Rhiannon for standing up to the panel. That’s the other side of being PC, asking questions that are not necessarily relevant to the role that is being interviewed for. And being a 2-way process you made the right decision in not wanting to work for the hospital unit.

  17. Ashley Montgomery

    Great article Lynn! These are some out of the box questions that really make you think.

  18. Lynn Tulip

    Thanks Ashley, out of the box questions are the ones that you are often not prepared for. Good luck

  19. Mitch Sullivan


  20. Anita Hunt

    A very good post Lynn, I will be making sure that my friends read your excellent, informative and helpful blog. I have certainly been at the end of some strange questions in my time, sitting calmly and focussing on what they are actually asking, helps enormously.

  21. Kathleen Fedouloff

    I can only see one good reason for asking interviewees ‘wacky’ questions – to see how they respond to the unexpected. If they come back with a sensible challenge (like Rhiannon – what has this got to do with the job?) or something humorous (‘I’ve never seen a carrot put up any resistance to a fork – have you?’), it’s some indication that they are flexible and adaptable.

    I’m not at all sure that it tells a boss anything useful at all if you respond to a ‘vaules’ question like the one about a million pounds with – ‘I’d give it all to Save the Children’ or ‘I’d give up work and go on a round the world cruise’. So what? They’d hire one and not the other? Which?

    The only thing interviewees can do, perhaps, is be aware that some interviewers do ask this sort of thing, and be ready to answer off the cuff and from the heart, without worrying too much. Any interviewer who based their selection solely on the answer to such questions is probably to be avoided as an employer!

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  23. Mark Holland

    Great article Lynn. Really well thought out and put together. Mark

  24. Maureen Scholefield

    Great article Lynn, very useful refresher for all!

    Well done!
    Kind regards

  25. Jackie Barrie

    Being self-employed for more than 10 years, I’m glad I don’t have to be interviewed or do interviews any more if that’s what it’s now like!

    I do remember the best question I ever asked a candidate who was being vague about their current job role – ‘What did you do yesterday?’ followed by ‘And was that a typical day?’ and ‘Is there anything else you might do on a regular basis?’ Those questions told me everything I needed to know about their experience and whether or not it matched the role.

  26. Eileen Lloyd

    Thank goodness, I am retired and do not have to interview or be interviewed anymore. No the wonder that My niece Maria who always takes remarks and questions and jokes very literally cannot find a job.

  27. Paula Tomlinson

    I agree with many of the comments above. This excellent article reminds me of those interviews that didn’t quite as well as they should. Having Lynn to coach you in advance is invaluable in keeping those to a minimum!

  28. ros

    I am very glad I am retired!

  29. Lynn Tulip

    Thanks for your comments and endorsements. Even when you retire there’s the memories of the days when you were interviewed or had to interview someone.

    @Jackie, those are good questions to gain rapport too with a shy candidate

  30. Tracey Dooley

    Great article, Lynn. Thank Goodness I’m well past the interviewing stage of my career! That said, I do think this article would come in handy from the other perspective, too – ie, what to look for (or not) as an interviewer… ;0)

  31. Ian

    Good article Lynn, but I have to agree with Mitch: if anyone was daft enough to ask any of those questions direct as starters, I’d walk out!

    As an interviewer, personally as a man if I was interviewing a woman, No.5 would appear sexist verging directly on sexual discrimination; I’d be calling my lawyer to. I have used No.4, but only as a secondary when the interviewee says something along the lines of “I left that job because my boss was an idiot!”

    I laugh at the number of “1001 popular job interview questions” type books, as frankly there is enough information to pass a job interview in the job advert and the organisations website, plus a bit of news media reading. Plus once you get past 20, with all those nerves, who is going to remember them? Good interviewing shouldn’t need to stray into the superfluous, just test the required skills of that job in the required areas. No evidence, hence not employed: its that simple!

  32. Elisabeth Carlsson

    How do these questions come to you ? I am glad I
    don’t have to answer them.

  33. Lynn Tulip

    @ Kathleen – you are so right, no interviewer should base a selection decision solely on any interview – regardless of how good and relevant the questions were.

    @ Tracey, @ Paula @ Mark @ Maureen and @ Elisabeth, thanks for your comments and support

    @ Ian – the whole point of the article has been to raise awareness that on occasions interviewers will throw a fly in the ointment.

    Personally I would never advocate asking any questions that were not relevant to the role or company. And as you say, if there’s no evidence – then there’s no job.

  34. Alison Wimbush

    A thought provoking article Lynn and I have certainly experienced being asked some pretty weird and wonderful questions during interviews years ago. I hope I never have to go through one again I must say, it makes me feel nervous just reading the questions!

  35. Judy

    As the Scouts motto is “be prepared” so too the poor interview candidate should take heed.I wonder how Baden Powell would have answered these questions.

  36. Jacqui Smith

    Great post Lynn – love the bit about the dishwasher loading! D & I load in completely different ways 😉

  37. Claire Duc

    Well you’ve certainly stirred people up Lynn set off an interesting chain of responses. A thought provoking article.

  38. Lynn Tulip

    @Alison, @Judy, @Jacqui and @Claire
    Thanks for commenting. It’s a great exercise and if I’ve been provocative then all the better!

  39. jane stach

    A brilliant article. Very thought provoking. I realy enjoyed reading it and learnt a lot.

  40. Richard Shelley

    Really worth a read by anyone up for interview. Encourages some lateral thinking in what can be a dull old fashioned process. Great Stuff Lynn !!

  41. Sandra Huggett

    Great idea Lynn,could come in useful when I’m next in that position

  42. Lynn Tulip

    Thinking creatively and being prepared are just a couple of tools needed for interviewing. Thanks for commenting.

  43. Mervyn Huggett

    “What questions have you ever been asked that totally caught you off-guard?”

    There have been quite a few over the years but I tend to bluff my way through them!

  44. Simon Raybould

    I hate to say this, but Mitch is right. There’s no point in passing an interview like this as the job would be hell.

    Let’s face it, interviewing is hard. Very hard – which is why so few people do it well. To interpret the answers to questions like this you’d need to be an expert psychiatrist… and there’s a reason expert psychiatrists don’t (in my experience) ask questions like this.

    To be honest, if you need to bend what you’re saying to fit silly questions like this, you and the job aren’t a good enough fit and you’re better of going elsewhere.

  45. Jennie HK

    Great article Lynn.

    I think with whatever interview, or deciding what to do in life, if you can firstly get clear on your core values then any answer should flow from you. If the interviewer doesn’t like your answer and it isn’t a fit with what they are looking for then in the long run it is probably best anyway if it doesn’t work out – any work that isn’t aligned with your values is going to lead to dissatisfaction from both parties in the long run anyway!

  46. Lynn Tulip

    @Jennie well said! You summarised nicely what @Simon was saying too.

  47. Vladimir Faifr

    Lynn, I think this is an excellent article. It is always valuable to help people to see through interviewers tricks.

  48. Lynn Tulip

    Thanks Vladimir for commenting. It’s good to know that the article has been read.

  49. Tina

    I think it’s definitely about the candidate seeing through the initial bizarreness of the question and seeing how it relates to the job. Either that or the interviewer just generally has a wicked sense of humour!

  50. alt0182

    Let the wackiness of the question come back to them in your answer.

    “Probably the same thing you would do if you were the last chunk of chicken in a bowl of soup.”


    “The kind of car/animal that (list your attributes).”

  51. Pingback: The craziest question you have ever been asked at an interview is? « Birds on the Blog

  52. Jacob Share

    Just did a massive update to Lynn’s great article 💪

  53. ngwillis1

    My first response would be “Do people really still ask these sorts of questions. But then again , there is more than just a grain of usefulness to the answer.
    For me the worst sort is What am I doing wrong as an interviewer? You have to understand so much more than the car question and you risk showing your ignorance about the interview process and maybe insulting the interviewer without meaning.
    A great list though and better than asking why man hole covers are round etc.

    1. Jacob Share

      You can only get so much out of talking. Putting people on the spot can sometimes be very revealing in how people think, but all too often, interviewers put too much weight on the replies. The same person may reply differently based on mood, setting or even how well they slept. But that’s also true about reacting in the workplace 😉

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