by Lisa Thompson

Ever been asked an interview question that didn't seem to have anything to do with the job or maybe even with reality as we know it? Well, those unusual—and sometimes just plain goofy—questions reveal more about you than you know.


Why Employers Ask Them

If you could be any animal (tree, plant, bird, etc), which would you be? — If you were a superhero, what type of power would you want? — If you could have supper with five famous people, whom would you choose?


Although questions like these may seem irrelevant (stupid even), don't blow them off. Employers ask these types of questions to find out if job applicants:


  • Have a sense of humor
  • Show spontaneous creativity
  • Can think on their feet
  • Can handle stress when faced with the unexpected


"Wild-card" questions also serve another purpose: the answers reveal knowledge in other areas as well as interests outside of work. Your responses reveal your personality, likes, and dislikes (tread carefully with this last one). It allows the interviewer to get a glimpse of the real you.


Regardless of the question, always be prepared to provide a little explanation as to why you answered the way you did. In many ways, this can be more important and telling than the initial answer itself.


Answering Oddball Questions

Many people never encounter these types of interview questions. If you fall into that category, congrats! But if you have, like me, you know it's not always easy to prepare for them—or sometimes even to answer them. The key is to learn to expect the unexpected so that you aren't rattled if the interviewer DOES ask you one. During the interview:


  • Relax. Take a breath. Smile and be yourself.
  • Take a moment to collect your thoughts. Don't blurt out the first thing that pops in your head. Really think about the question, but don't over think it. If possible, try to connect your response back to the job.
  • Be honest. While you want to give an answer the interviewer likes, be true to yourself and sincere. Don't make something up just to get the question over with. Keep in mind that the only wrong answer is the one that casts you in a negative light.


If even the thought of "wild-card" questions flusters you, it might be helpful to review some of the most common ones asked. You can find examples at the sites listed below, but remember that your responses should be tailored to you, not an out-of-the-box generic response. Avoid clichés at all costs.