How to answer difficult interview questions

Question

Remember that moment?  Face to face with an established professional who is carefully scrutinizing your dress, your language, your facial expressions, and all of a sudden, you’re asked one of “those” questions:  what would you do during a zombie apocalypse? Or, how about this:  how long are you willing to stick out a job before you quit?  You start to shake and sweat starts to bead on your forehead; you tap the depths of your brain for the right thing to say.. assuming, of course, you want that job…with that type of thinking.

horrible-job-interview-questions-0-CopyThis dialogue connects you with resources to answer these and other types of wacky, weird, strange, bizarre and other out-of-the-box questions otherwise designed to assess your “quick on the feet,” critical-thinking skills. To accomplish this goal, we’ve listed some questions and links to the answers given by notable (okay, we really have no idea) respondents.

Here are our favorite questions with a recommended response:

  • What do you think you will hate about this job?

Really?  How do you answer this type of question?  You can’t be a Pollyanna in front of your potential employer or else they may think you don’t have a realistic grip on the real-world.   So, what does work?  While we job-interview_blog-300x149can’t predict what you aren’t going to like about any job, use this question to respond based on what you know about yourself and what you know about the job.  For example, it can be assumed that if you are applying for a job at The Gap, and you plan to be in sales, you probably shouldn’t answer this question that you hate people.  Unless you really hate working with people, in which case you should not be applying for this job.  Another example: you are applying for a job that requires a lot of travel and you say that you hate to drive or fly.

A better way to answer this question is to be honest: state that you are sure there will be things that you like more than other (use positive emotional attractors).  Restate what you know about the position that attracted you to apply. This question gives you an opportunity to show that you’ve done your homework and understand the expectations of this position.

  • If you could be any type of animal, what would you be?

This is a potential employers attempt to not use the Myers-Briggs personality assessment when they really want to. So, what do you do? This is another opportunity to promote your strengths and to downplay your weaknesses (see additional questions below) in alignment with what you know about the job.  For example, if you are applying for an engineering job, saying that you are a peacock likely isn’t going to mesh as peacocks are noted for their showy, bright and self-centered personalities whereas engineers more interview 2closely resemble an intelligent owl: quiet, reserved, speaks up when necessary only.

  • What are your greatest weaknesses?

The big pitfall here is that a zillion sites will tell you to take a strength and sell it as a weakness.  This really doesn’t pass the sniff test as most interviewers are not fooled by this strategy.  Gut check: if you don’t believe the answer you are about to give to an interviewer, they won’t either.  To move this into a realistic direction, have a short answer that doesn’t lead to more details.  Be truthful, explain how you are trying to improve and be willing to answer questions about your greatest weaknesses.  Oh yeah – by the way, we all have more than one.  Do your research about the job and the company and wrap your response to this question about something relevant to the job or organization.  Don’t eliminate yourself from the candidate pool right off the bat by offering a weakness that doesn’t jive with the needs of the organization.  For example, if your greatest weakness is that you don’t have high attention to detail, you probably aren’t suited to apply for a quality inspector position.

confused young business woman posing with a clipboardNow you try:  here are some of our favorite questions that we really couldn’t answer:

  • What would you do in the event of a zombie apocalypse?
  • Why is a man-hole cover round?

There really is no single “right” or “best” answer as all of these types of questions are intended to evaluate your critical thinking skills, most often in direct correlation to the nature of the job you are trying to land.  For example, a question about the zombie apocalypse could equally evaluate your creativity as well as your ability to respond to chaos.  This may be important if, for example, you are applying for a job where chaos reigns or you are expected to dress mannequins for Hallowe’en.

For other weird and bizarre questions, here are some additional resources:

Weird and wacky interview questions

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