Which superhero would you be? Dealing with unexpected questions

Most questions at an interview are fairly straight forward, “Describe a time when you worked as a part of a team”, “give me an example of…”, “what motivates you?” etc… However it’s highly likely that you’ll get at least one question that you haven’t quite prepared for and it can throw you off guard. Unusual interview questions are designed to show an employer how you would react in a certain situation or how you would fit in within the company, testing your abilities and logic. It’s difficult to prepare for these types of questions but the key is to be honest. The purpose is for an employer to see how you think on your feet.

 

Question: Tell me about a time when you have been spontaneous

What they are asking you:

This type of question is to see how you react in situations that you
may have not planned and how you make certain decisions. Try to think of the best example that you can give which shows how quickly you act in situations. This will demonstrate to an employer if you are a problem solver, flexible and adaptive. Sometimes spontaneity in the work place is unavoidable whether that is staying after work or being sent to work away last minute. The question might be posed to test if you are committed, especially if it is a demanding role.

 

Question: If you were a kitchen appliance, what would you be?

What they are asking you:
This type of question is more likely to come up in creative roles. Your answer can say a lot about how you think and can tell an employer metaphorically a lot about what type of person you are. There isn’t a right or wrong answer but make sure that you back up your answer with clear reasoning.

 

Question: Tell me in one sentence what you think we do? 

What they are asking you:
If you haven’t done your research then it will be difficult for you to answer this question with confidence. This type of question requires preparation. Look back at the job description, the company website and their social media presence, what do they proud themselves on? What are their core values? What are they looking for and what do they expect from you?

Research will show your logical thinking, ensuring that you know exactly what the role is that you have applied for and why you are passionate about the role, the company and the sector. If you know the company inside out, you shouldn’t have a problem with summarising what they do in a sentence. Just make sure that you don’t recite what is already stated on their website and that you don’t state the obvious “you are an engineering company”. This won’t tell an employer what the company does or give them an overview of how you interpret the company.


Think outside the box.

It is important to think outside the box but also give evidence for your answers; this is easier said than done with unexpected questions. For example if being asked to describe a time in which you were spontaneous you could answer with along the lines of ; “Well I had intended to go straight to uni after my A’levels, then I found out about a volunteer teaching programme in South Africa, from a friend who had just returned  and decided almost overnight to take a year out to do the same.  Since my place at Uni had already been confirmed, I had a lot of things that I needed to do including contacting them to get agreement to defer my entry for a year, cancelling all my accommodation arrangements and preparing for my trip to South Africa.  I made a very long list of actions, prioritising them and making sure I did things in the right order.   It was all very manic and I had to drop out of attending my sister’s wedding to get everything done, but it was worth it because of the skills and life lessons learnt and gained”.

Don’t be afraid to use examples outside of work and university, life choices are just as important and demonstrate how you handle such situations. If in the job description it asks for you to possess certain skills, provide examples and the outcomes.

Be natural but don’t waffle; practice with similar questions and be honest. The best advice for unexpected questions are embrace the situation and just be you.

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