Odd, Unexpected or Confrontational Interview Questions: What's the Purpose?
By Lynn Ste. Marie
July 9, 2009
Every once ethical search engine optimization law firm seo law firm web in a while you might run into an interviewer who throws you a curveball in the middle of the interview with a question that completely leaves you stumped. Some of the questions can take a downright odd turn and others can turn a pleasant interview into a seemingly confrontational one.
In the odd and title insurance company title company miami title insurance costsunexpected category, you might have the interviewer ask you things like:
If you were a fruit, what fruit would you be? This question could be asked in a similar way about anything really. Maybe the question will be about what animal you’d like to be or perhaps that interviewer might even take a page from Barbara Walter’s famous question to Katherine Hepburn when she mused about being a tree and asked, “What kind of tree?”
I’ve had candidates asked, “If you were going to have a dinner party for 50 people, how would you plan it?”
What’s your favorite color?
What’s the last book you read?
Who, living or dead, would you like to have dinner with?
Some of these queries almost take on the characteristics of some of the rather odd questions you might hear asked of contestants upon occasion at the Miss America pageant.
So, what’s the right answer to these oddball questions that seem to have no bearing on the job at hand? I mean, is it really better to say you’d like to be an orange than to pick “apple”? I suppose you could make a case that how you answer and your reasoning count, and to some degree that’s true. However, the purpose of those kinds of questions in both venues is not to see what you answer so much as it is how you handle the pressure, the unexpected, and with how much self-assurance you conduct yourself.
The same is true with the stress interview approach wherein an interviewer might out of the blue get confrontational. A line of questioning about your salary history might suddenly turn into a question about why you haven’t gotten more regular raises or why you aren’t making more than you are at this stage in your career.
If you run into any of these approaches online advertising website seo services online advertising agency, there are a few things to keep in mind so that you don’t come off like a deer in headlights in the face of these questions.
First, don’t get offended or defensive. Your thin skinned response will not bode well when it comes to assessing your candidacy.
Don’t let your discomfort or confusion send you off on a tangent of explanations regarding your answer. You’ll end up looking easily flustered.
Don’t worry about the answer too much. Focus on a short descriptor of why that’s your answer. For instance, if the last book you read wasn’t something deeply philosophical or geared toward motivational techniques, that’s probably ok. A short explanation of why you choose that particular book is sufficient. What you enjoy in your off time is usually just fine (within reason, of course).
The most important thing to keep in mind is very simple but so important. Don’t blurt something out just to cover your discomfort. It is perfectly fine when a question like this (or any question for that matter) throws you, to ask for a moment to think about it. It’s fine to say, “That’s a really good question. I hadn’t really considered that before. Let me think about that for a minute before I give you my answer.” And that’s what you do. Just take a few seconds to formulate your answer and then respond.
Beyond those tips, the best thing you can do is to simply make every attempt to stay cool. Keep eye contact, be aware of your body language so that you don’t close yourself off from the interviewer, and smile. Your composure is what is truly being tested when you get a curveball question in an interview. Be prepared that it might come, and you will have a much better chance of staying on track and remaining focused on the bigger picture which is presenting yourself in the best possible light.