How to understand what the interviewer is really asking so you can respond really well.

This is a guest post by Lynn Tulip. If you’d also like to guest post here on JobMob, follow these guest post guidelines.

Bizarre and random interview 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 hirer/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.

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 interviewer is looking for. Yes, give personal instinctive answers – with the caveat that you understand some of the reasoning behind the question.

What is the interviewer wanting 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. 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 voluntary 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?

“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.

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.

Question of the article

What questions have you ever been asked that totally caught you off-guard? Tell us in the comments

About the Author

lynn tulip portraitLynn 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 is 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:

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If you liked this article, you’ll also enjoy Job Interviews: How You Can Benefit By Asking Questions.

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--Jacob Share