Best Answers to Tricky Interview Questions
Strange and Tricky Interview Questions
"If you were an animal, what kind of animal would you be?" You may be thinking that is a strange interview question. Strange? Yes. Uncommon? No.
At your next job interview, you will probably discover that some strange and tricky interview questions have become very popular with many interviewers.
Oh, they still ask about your strengths and your weaknesses. And I guarantee they will ask that overworked question: "Tell me about yourself."
But these days, interviewers also ask a number of tricky questions. Why? Because these off-the-wall questions are designed to make you think quickly and creatively.
The interviewer wants to learn more about your personality by judging how rapidly your mind works. And can you think out-of-the-box?
“Every day I get up and look through the Forbes list of the richest people in America. If I'm not there, I go to work." -- Robert Orben
Do you want to be able to give the best proven answers to these strange tricky questions? Of course you do. Here are ten tricky questions you may be asked.
This is your opportunity to be clever and creative when you respond . . .
. . . Or, simply memorize the following best answers:
Wait a minute!
There were two questions on this list that I am not including below. Why?
Because I have learned, although the two are still tricky, most folks already know that the answer to the "If you were an animal ..." question is a strong, intelligent animal like a tiger, lion, elephant, or Cape buffalo.
And you might want to respond: “I would be as aggressive as a tiger in following up on sales leads.”
Or “I have the memory of an elephant when it comes to remembering what the client prefers."
Or "I have the strength and endurance of a Cape buffalo when it comes to negotiating terms."
Do not answer: panda or koala. Too cute, too lovable. Do not answer: laughing hyena or platypus. Too weird, too strange.
The second popular question is "If you were a tree, what tree would you be?" Select a sequoia (redwood) or oak - a tree that is strong and sturdy.
Best Answers to 10 Tricky Questions
1 – Why are manhole covers round?
The interviewer is testing your imagination and creativity. Microsoft was the first to make this question famous by asking it as a standard job interview question.
You can answer as follows:
“a – A round manhole cover cannot fall through its circular opening.
b – A heavy, round manhole cover can be more easily moved by being rolled.
c – If a car rolls over a dislodged manhole that is square or triangular, the sharp corners could puncture a tire, but a round manhole doesn't have corners.”
Best Answers to Tough Questions
2 – If Martians landed in front of you and offered you any position on their planet, what is the first thing you would do?
The most creative answer I ever heard was: “The first thing I would do is go change my pants because the Martians scared the crap out of me. Then I would ask to travel with them so I could scare the crap out of others.”
Creative? Yes. Appropriate? No.
Offering to be the Travel Director would be creative and imaginative. But the rest of the answer is crappy. (forgive me)
3 – If you wrote an autobiography, what do you think the title should be?
Your answer will be interpreted as a clue to your personality, creativity, accomplishments and degree of humility.
Something like: “How I Use Stephen Covey’s ‘The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People’” would be appropriate for any supervisory or managerial position. But read the book first, please.
An excellent title might be: “Yes, I Can.” Sammy Davis, the entertainer, used that one for his autobiography back in the day. The title may be seen to represent your self-confidence and positive self-esteem.
“During job interviews, when the interviewer asks: ‘What is your biggest weakness?’ I always say: ‘Flatulence’.
That way I get my own office.” – Dan Thompson
4 – What would your mother (or father) say is your greatest weakness?
Be aware that it isn’t your parent responding; it’s you. This is a negative question to trick you. Repeat a strength that appears to be a weakness but really isn’t.
“To improve my public speaking skills, I joined Toastmasters International.”
It’s also fairly safe to use something your mother might have told you as a child: “Stop drinking milk out of the carton. Use a glass!"
Working with Difficult People
5 – What kind of people do you find it difficult to work with?
Do not name the members of any political party, race, religion, ethnic group, minority or fraternal affiliation.
Say something like: “There are no particular people I find it difficult to work with, but I do find some behaviors annoying – such as not completing work assignments on time, gossiping, laziness, avoiding responsibility, procrastination …”
“By working faithfully 8 hours a day you may eventually get to be boss and work 12 hours a day.” – Robert Frost
6 – If you were an Historical or Film character, which one would it be?
Select a character that appears to be a strong and intelligent leader and a risk-taker. Say: Abraham Lincoln or George Washington. Do not name recent Democrats or Republicans. They may not be as appealing to the interviewer.
If you are a film devotee, “Captain Kirk … Spock … Obi-Wan Kenobi.” These characters denote strength, wisdom and leadership.
Yoda and Jabba the Hut? Not so much.
If you are a genuine risk-taker, travel further back in history and say "Genghis Khan." But be prepared to justify your selection.
"As Genghis Khan, I would annihilate our competition.”
7 – What makes you most angry?
This is an example of a leading question. Do not admit to having any episodes of anger. Ever.
Say: “I try to handle issues or conflicts as soon as they arise so that they don't build up to the anger point.”
Try to avoid using the word, problems. It reeks of negativity.
A bum asked me “Give me $10 till payday.” I asked, "When's payday?" He said, "I don't know, you're the one who is working!" – Henny Youngman
8 – On a scale of 1 to 10 how happy are you?
A little humor will work for this one: “Usually I am an 8 or 9, but will quickly become a 10 when I get this job.”
Notice I suggest using the word, ‘when’ not ‘if’. It is another indicator of self-confidence.
9 – You only have time to save three things from a fire in your home. Your family is safe. What are the three things?
Your answer reflects your values and priorities. Most people respond: “pets ... important documents ... photographs ... scrapbooks ... laptop ... iPad ...cellphone ... mother-in-law (just kidding).
Be prepared to explain why you would save these items.
Thought for the Day: Life is like a doughnut. You're either in the dough or in the hole.
10 – What motto guides your life?
“Always wear clean underwear in case you get in an accident.”
Use this adage only if you have discovered the interviewer has a sense of humor, and it would not be inappropriate. If in doubt, leave it out.
“Never put off until tomorrow what you can do today” may be trite but it works. Trust me!
When you go to your interview, remember to smile sincerely, shake hands firmly, display your knowledge of the company, and write your thank-you letter or email later that day.
© Copyright BJ Rakow, Ph.D. 2012. All rights reserved. Author, "Much of What You Know about Job Search Just Ain't So."
Readers of my job search book say it provided them with the information they needed to write a dynamic resume and cover letter, network effectively, interview, and negotiate salary successfully. There is also a chapter especially for older workers.