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Weird interview questions and how to answer them

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Published: 9 December 2021

Student in a class

When you graduate from the University of Sunderland in London and start applying for jobs, it’s natural to prepare for upcoming interviews.  

Some of them are simple like ‘tell us about yourself’, others need a bit more thought such as ‘why do you want to work for us?’. But there may be one or two which are just...well, odd.   

It doesn’t matter what industry you go into, healthcare or events, interviewers are often tempted to test your reactions to the unexpected with less common questions.  

That could be anything from ‘what is your favourite colour?’ to ‘how would you get to China with no money?’ and anything in between.  

Why do they do this?   

Reactions to odd questions range from confusion to annoyance.   

It’s not always obvious why an interviewer cares what you would do if you won the lottery or where you’re going for your next holiday.   

But that’s sort of the point. They want to see how you react to the unexpected.   

A lot of interview questions can be guessed and prepared for. You’ve likely looked into the most common ones and thought of your own answers already.  

With weird questions, the interviewer gets to see your reactions and a more honest idea of how you think.  

How do you respond?  

Although you can’t prepare for all the possible odd things you might get asked in an interview, you can think about how to approach a response.  

Be calm  

These questions are designed to stop you in your tracks. The trick is to not react to them. Take a deep breath, sit up straight and focus on looking confident.  

Pause   

It’s ok to not have an answer straight away. Buy yourself a little time by saying things like ‘that’s an interesting question’ or ‘let me consider that for a second’.  

Think out loud  

Generally speaking, the interviewer is not looking for the actual answer, more the way you approach things. Explain your reasoning as part of your response to show off your thought process and if you get stuck ask them to clarify.  

Remember you’re in an interview  

This might sound obvious, but weird questions are aimed at throwing you off your balance. It’s easy to lose track of what you’re talking about when you get asked them, so focus on bringing your answer back around to the role and why you’re the right candidate for it. For example, if they ask you for your favourite colour, say something like ‘blue, because it’s calming, and I always stay relaxed under pressure’.  

What not to say  

Make sure you avoid dodging the question. You might see it as a bit silly considering the seriousness of an interview, but they still want an answer.  

And finally, don’t take it too seriously. Be professional, of course, but these are meant to be fun questions.   

It’s OK to laugh if they ask you what kind of biscuit you are!  

Whatever you decide to do with your future, the University of Sunderland in London Careers and Employability Service is here to help.  

To have a one-to-one chat with them, book a meeting through Compass or email careers-london@sunderland.ac.uk. Find out more by following #WeAreSunLon on FacebookTwitter and Instagram.

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