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20 Ridiculous and Insane Interview Questions You Could Actually Be Asked

January 18th, 2010

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If you’re looking for a job or internship in this economic climate, you’re probably tearing your hair out just to get an interview. But once you get in the door, you’re still in no position to relax. Employers and recruiters can ask you all kinds of questions to make you uncomfortable and think on your feet, and they often do. But if you’re prepared, you’ll be able to handle any type of ridiculous interview question, whether you’re a rookie college grad or a veteran job searcher. Here’s our list of 20 ridiculous and insane questions you may be asked during your next interview.

  1. What kind of Star Trek or Star Wars character would you be?: If you’re not a trekkie or into Star Wars at all, this could be an especially terrifying question for you. But as long as you don’t pick a well-known villain or psychopath and instead try to relate yourself to a likable science-fiction leader, you should be okay.
  2. If aliens landed in front of you and, in exchange for anything you desire, offered you any position on their planet, what would you want?: If you’d like them to indulge any kind of sex, drugs or rock ‘n’ roll fantasy, you’ll be crossed off the list. Instead, try to think of something constructive and creative that makes you stand out for being clever.
  3. Can I look in your purse?: On the Ask a Manager blog, a reader answered a call for weird interview questions from the blogger’s post on the U.S. News & World Report website. The reader explained that her interviewer asked if he could look inside her purse to evaluate how organized she was. Many interviewees might feel that this question crosses the line of personal space and privacy, and there may not be a right or wrong answer. Just make sure your bag is clean before showing up.
  4. If you were given a free full-page ad in the newspaper and had to sell yourself in six words or less, how would the ad read?: Interview coach Lewis Lin highlights on his blog this question featured in the book High-Impact Interview Questions. It’s actually a straightforward question, just asked in a roundabout way. Just think of the words that best describe you on your resume, and try to add a couple of creative adjectives to set you apart from everyone else.
  5. How do you feel about affirmative action?: The woman who was asked this question in an interview felt that it was inappropriate and interpreted it as her interviewer trying to feel out her personal beliefs, and whether or not she would "fit in" with the rest of the employees there.
  6. Why are manhole covers round?: This weird question has actually been asked in more than one interview. The trick to answering is to think outside the box and come up with a creative answer, even if it’s a little ridiculous. After all, it’s a weird question.
  7. Are you a cat person?: An article on that collected real-life weird interview questions included this submission from "Lea." Some people believe that there are certain personality traits that go along with dog people vs. cat people, and the interviewer appears to have been partial to those conclusions.
  8. If you were a salad, what kind of dressing would you have?: This question is asked to evaluate a job candidate’s personality. If you’re just plain oil and vinegar, for example, you might come across as boring.
  9. How do I rate as an interviewer?: There isn’t really a choice in how to answer this question, but you don’t want to gush either, especially if you haven’t been very forthcoming in the interview thus far. Try to point to specific questions that you liked, demonstrating your attentiveness and sincerity.
  10. If you were a bicycle, what part would you be?: This question is another example of interviewers trying to identify your personality and creativity. If you pick the seat, you’re probably a stable, supportive person, and if you pick the handlebars, you’re probably a leader.
  11. How many gas stations would you say there are in the United States?: There’s no way of knowing off hand how many gas stations there are in the United States, but if you verbalize your plan for figuring out the question, you’ll show how you’re able to solve large problems. Just shooting off some random huge number will make you look lazy and unable to organize big projects.
  12. What is your favorite flavor of ice cream?: This is another question submitted to by a reader named Sarah. She was unable to select one specific flavor but answered "the ice cream would have to have little pieces or swirls of something mixed in because I appreciate variety." Her interviewers appreciated her creativity and independence, and she was offered the job.
  13. If you won the lottery, what would you do with the money?: This is actually a popular interview question used to evaluate character, planning and creativity. Like the alien question, it’s best not to answer according to your physical or secret slacker desires, but to demonstrate your ability to organize and make the most of your opportunities.
  14. What did you want to be when you were 10 years old?: If you wanted to be an astronaut when you were 10 and are interviewing for a bank job now, you don’t have to be embarrassed or feel like a failure. Try to relate your childhood dreams to the aspirations and goals you have now, pointing to the personality traits you’ve grown into.
  15. If you were on a merry-go-round, what song would you be singing?: This question is all about creativity and showing off your true personality. Go with your gut instinct, and pick the song that makes you happy and chills you out the most.
  16. What would I find in your refrigerator?: Interviewers may ask you this question to learn more about your personality and your character. If your refrigerator is completely empty except for stale milk, you may come across as a poor planner.
  17. Can you tell a joke?: In an ideal situation, you would be able to answer this question with a clever joke, but it’s also okay to laugh at yourself if you can’t tell a joke. Instead, try to find a way to present your own sense of humor — in a tasteful way, of course.
  18. Who do you like best, your mom or dad?: No one wants you to say that you hate your mom or dad, so just explain how they’re different, always stressing the positive traits. Discussing how they’ve influenced you is also a good idea.
  19. What makes you angry?: Patty Inglish considers this a tricky question and suggests that you be very careful about admitting to getting angry. Instead, focus on how you constructively deal with situations that frustrate or bug you.
  20. What is your perception of the painting in the lobby?: At first, this question may seem completely random and useless; however, it’s a good indication of how detailed you are and how much you’re tuned into the world around you. When you show up to the interview, take a moment to let the office atmosphere affect you so that you’re prepared for these types of questions.

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