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Unusual Interview Questions and How to Answer Them

The Betts Team
April 21, 2016

As company culture has evolved, so too has the interview process. Hiring managers are looking for new ways to filter through the countless resumes they receive and the sea of candidates they bring in for interviews. Startups and tech companies value individualism as well as experience and education. To identify the right fits for their company, hiring managers have begun asking more than the usual questions during their interviews. These questions have deviated from the logic-focused interview questions Google and Bloomberg championed and are more geared towards eliciting completely individual responses.
Here are a few examples of interesting questions and the answers employers are looking for.
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“Are you a Kobe or a LeBron?”

Even if you’re not a sports fan, everyone knows these two famous athletes. What often goes unnoticed, though, is their distinct personality differences. If you’re a LeBron, you enjoy being center stage, are constantly looking for the next big thing, embrace large changes, and are focused on self-branding. If you’re a Kobe, you’re loyal to your one company, you’re a team player (remember Shaq?), and your brand is linked directly to your team. Depending on the position, companies could be looking for strong, independent players, or impactful, inspiring leaders. When going into a job interview, understand your optimum position in the company, and answer their questions accordingly.

“If you were laid off 90 days after being hired, what would you say?”

This question deals with how you accept “failure.” Do you answer that you disagree with the decision, and therefore are a fighter that cares about the company? Do you try to understand why, and therefore are focused on problem solving and compromising? Do you just accept the fact that you’re fired, and say nothing or burn some bridges? Answering with too much confidence can come off as rude or offensive to a hiring manager, but answering too demurely can portray the opposite. The best answer would be a combination of the three. Aim for a negotiation to stay longer, which includes accepting the lay-off, understanding why, and arguing that you should still remain part of the company.

“What kind of ice cream are you?”

A lot of candidates get tripped up on easy questions like this one. As long as you’re not vanilla, you’re golden. If you can’t pick an ice cream, or can’t come up with a reason as to why you chose it, then you’re not an employee that can think on their feet. Hiring managers just want answers to a lot of their unusual questions, and aren’t looking for a specific flavor.

 “If you could work at any company besides ours, which would it be?”

This question highlights how up-to-date you are in the tech or startup world, as well as what you’re interested in. Read up on companies that are rapidly growing or have really unusual products before going in to any interview. Understanding the company you’re applying for also means understanding the industry they are operating in. Hiring managers are looking for smart and savvy candidates that can offer new ideas in their company, instead of just regurgitating what has already been done.
Most unusual interview questions are focused on learning more about how you think, what type of employee you will be, and how well you respond to pressure. Answering strongly, and feeling confident in your reasoning, is the best method to use when faced with an unusual interview question. There are no wrong answers, just answer in line with your personality.