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Don't Get Stumped By Strange Interview Questions

James Voytek
June 3, 2015

Many of us have been asked “trick” interview questions like, “what is your greatest weakness?” It’s well-known that you shouldn’t respond with “I have a terrible time staying on task.” But what about those questions that are just a bit…out there?

The in-person interview can be one of the most challenging pieces of your job search. You’ve got to make sure you’re looking great, feeling confident, and have all the answers for why you should be the next hire. However, sometimes it’s hard to think of answers to the questions you never anticipated.

Here are 4 strange interview questions our job seekers have been asked, and how to handle them with grace:

1. “Name three people that don’t like you and why.”

Don’t dig yourself into a hole here. Accept that this is a question meant to trip you up and fight the impulse to answer it in too many words. Turn it into a positive (or a joke!) with something like “my travel agent because I always want to get the best deal on flights and it can take time.” It’s not perfect, but it’s better than “my old co-worker because I always threw trash on the floor.

2. “What is your spirit animal?”

This is actually a great question. Just think about the possibilities! The way you want to come up with your answer is to think about 2-3 great attributes about yourself (personally and professionally) that could also translate to an animal. Maybe you’re a wolf: you can do great work on your own, but you also thrive in a pack. Or maybe you’re like grumpy cat…no probably don’t use that one.

3. “What’s the one thing your parents are most proud of you for?”

Here’s another chance to (hopefully) be truthful about your accomplishments. You want to make sure you don’t cross the line into hokey territory with an answer like, “having this job interview right now.” Bring up an accomplishment that relates to a big achievement in your life like graduating top in your class after overcoming an obstacle. That demonstrates determination and the ability to learn from your past.

4. “Which state in the US would you eliminate, and why?”

Be careful of getting too political and personal here, and take it as a creative challenge. You could ask, “eliminate in what way?” to gain clarification of what they are truly asking. Are we talking total annihilation or does California just disappear? Try and inject some humor as well, maybe give Hawaii the boot because you want it to gain independence and thrive all the way out there in the ocean with a big party.

Author: Stephanie Hughes