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How to handle unusual interview questions

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If you have attended a few interviews throughout your career, you’ll know that most interview questions are fairly straightforward. The interviewer designs his or her questions according to the job requirements, so you will commonly get questions about your technical skills, your experience in previous jobs and your knowledge about your prospective role. Unfortunately, there can be the odd occasion when a question is thrown in that seems quirky, irrelevant or completely off the wall. For whatever reason, the interviewer has decided to knock you out of your comfort zone and put you to the test by asking an unpredictable question. Examples can range from, “If you wore a t-shirt to describe yourself, what would it say?” to “If you were a box of cereal what would you be and why?” Take a look at these tips before you think about running out of the door.

Keep calm

If you encounter one of these questions, it is important not to panic. The worst possible reaction to any question is to say nothing or start babbling. Interviewers are human beings too, so it is possible they may have asked the question due to boredom or to lighten the mood. If necessary take time to work it through in your head before answering.

Ask for more information

If you are really struggling with an answer, try asking the interviewer to clarify it. This can help you stall for time while you try to formulate your answer. The interviewer may be able to rephrase the question or explain it in more detail, giving you more ideas to create an effective answer.

Turn the question to your advantage

Take a few seconds to think about the rationale behind the question and then create an answer that shows you are thoughtful and creative. There may be a good reason for asking the question if the interviewer wants to learn about your personality or aptitude for the role, so try to identify what it is and tailor your answer towards the job you are applying for.

Be quirky

Be creative and quirky with your answers. Sometimes there is no right or wrong answer to a question, so perhaps the interviewer just wants to see how you perform under pressure. If you can offer a clever answer, you are more likely to impress the interviewer with your creativity.

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