How many marbles can fit in this jar?
If you were an animal, what would you be?
At 3:15, what is the degree between the hour hand and minute hand?
When I used to prepare for interviews, I was always worried about the oddball questions. I wanted to anticipate these questions and answer them perfectly. I would look up questions online and try to answer them myself, without using a calculator, pen, or pencil.
What are oddball questions?
Aside from the standard interview questions, sometimes you’ll be asked oddball questions so the interviewer can see how you think. Although the effectiveness of these questions is often debated, it is nice to be prepared for them just in case. These questions will come across as off-the-wall and have nothing to do with the position. They’ll hit you with something you don’t expect.
What is the interviewer looking for?
The interviewer is looking for several things. First, she is looking to see how you think. Can you think logically and deductively? Can you understand the problem at hand and think of a way to solve it?
Second, she wants to see how well you communicate. All your previous answers may have been rehearsed since you may have answered the same questions many times before. How well do you communicate a completely new idea or topic? How well do you communicate a more technical topic to a non-technical person?
Third, how well do you handle pressure? Do you break down and start stuttering or do you maintain your poise? Being able to maintain your poise under difficult circumstances is one of the most important abilities to have. Whether you are getting work done under pressure or handling a tough client, being able to handle difficult situations will get you very far in life.
Finally, and depending on the question, how creative are you? Can you think outside the box?
How to approach an oddball question?
The key thing to remember is that it is okay to not know the answer. Just because you don’t know the answer, doesn’t mean you’ll get dinged. As long as you can talk through your thinking process, you’ll be fine.
Think about the problem at hand. Is it a mathematical problem? If so, talk through your approach first before attempting to solve it. When you solve it, it is okay to round and estimate. The interviewer doesn’t expect you to make complex calculations in your head. Use pen and paper if available to frame your response, draw appropriate diagrams, and make approximate calculations.
If it is more of a creative problem, like “what kind of animal are you,” then just take your time and have fun with it. Are you an eagle with strong integrity and an ability to see the big picture? Or are you a German shepherd with a strong sense of loyalty?
How to prepare?
You probably won’t know what oddball questions will be thrown at you. The best you can do is to come prepared and try your best. In addition to following the advice above, I recommend that you look up some oddball questions online and try to answer them yourself. Even if you don’t get asked any of those questions, you’ll get your mind thinking.
Make sure you are well prepared for the more “normal” parts of the interview as well. Your response to those questions are much more important than your response to an oddball question. Perhaps even more important, work on improving your body language since the majority of your communication is nonverbal.
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