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Preparing for the “weird” and wonderful at interview

To put your creativity to test and unveil your personality, employers may no longer just be interested in posing standard interview questions. According to a survey carried out by the recruitment consultancy Michael Page International, two out of five jobseekers were asked a “weird” question during an interview.
So you’ve prepared to answer promptly to questions such as “Where do you see yourself in five years’ time?” or “Why do you want this job?”, but employers might drop in a few seemingly odd questions to see whether, on-the-spot, you’re able to respond well to the most unexpected of enquiries. Take a deep breath and don’t worry: there are often no wrong answers and you should see it as your chance to show off your potential!
“What do you think about garden gnomes?” or “If you were a Microsoft programme, which one would you be?” are some of the weirdest questions reported by the UK newspaper The Guardian in an article addressing the topic.
The survey carried out by Michael Page International asked 1 000 job candidates what their biggest concern is ahead of an interview. According to some 39 % of respondents, “making a first good impression” is what they worry about. But 24 % also worry about “being asked a weird question” that may seem “entirely unrelated to their experience or the role in question”. Furthermore, 67 % of the respondents would be “baffled” by odd questions such as “How would you get an elephant into a fridge?” or “Why are manhole covers round instead of square”.
Creativity is key
Now comes your chance to shine. Embrace the opportunity and, faced with a “weird” interview question, take a moment to think thoroughly about the purpose behind the question – however bizarre it seems at first. Try to understand how it can be related to the role you are interviewing for, to your field of studies, or even the company and respond creatively – without putting logic to one side.
Michael Page International suggests you practice with a friend ahead of an interview: “Get a friend to test your lateral thinking by asking you weird, unexpected questions – even if they don’t have an obvious answer. The important thing is to demonstrate your creativity, logical thinking and ability to confidently make decisions on the spot without getting flustered”.
So take note: the weird and the wonderful could play a small role in your next interview. Use it as a chance to let potential employers know who you are and get beyond that all-too-often impersonal CV.
Read more:
Read the results of the survey
Read The Guardian article
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Text last edited on: 04/2013

"Focus on…" articles are intended to provide users of the EURES portal with information on current topics and trends and to stimulate discussion and debate. They do not necessarily reflect the view of the European Commission.