Illustration: Ashley Siebels
So you’re looking for some weird, odd, unusual job interview questions, are you? Well, just so you know, a while back we published a wildly popular roundup of 20 weird interview questions that have actually been asked in an interview (go check it out if you haven’t yet!). And now that you’re here, you’ve just arrived at Part 2!
That’s right and since that other post did so well, we went ahead and rounded up a fresh new batch of weird interview questions which you can find below.
With this set of weird interview questions, we also included a bit of context – and sometimes even a sample answer – alongside them so you can get a better picture of what the interviewee (or interviewer!) was thinking when the unusual question was asked.
Read on for the goods!
“Can you tell me 10 things you could do with a pencil other than write?”
The answers included some basic responses such as erasing, but I was really surprised by some of the other responses. One of the candidates we ended up hiring said A tool to pick the earwax out of your headphones after you’ve used them which I thought was so honest and funny (come on, most of us have done it!). It’s a nice break from traditional accounting questions and also shows how well candidates can think on their feet.
– Casie Grammer, Customer Success Manager at airCFO
“If I had an airplane full of jelly beans and I wanted you to get them all out, but in a very sanitary way so I could still eat them, what would you do? You have 24 hours to do this, but you have unlimited funds.”
My response was that I would hire 2 cranes and put one on each side of the plane. I’d buy big inflatable pools and put them under each exit on the plane. I’d then connect the left crane to the plane’s left wing, and tip it up, making the jelly beans fall into the pools. I’d repeat the same process with the right crane and wing. There would be some jelly beans left, so I’d then hire a crew, in full hazmat outfits (just to drive the sanitary point home), to clean up the rest of the jelly beans.
– Roxanne Williams, Marketing Director at Full Stack Talent
“Do you personally change the oil in your car?”
Years ago, after completing a business-related master’s degree, I interviewed for a supervisory position at a firm that specialized in data entry jobs for nearby auto-parts manufacturers who required quick turnarounds. I was questioned in rapid-fire fashion by a team of three people — and questions came so fast that I had little time to compose my answers. Suddenly — out of the blue — a panel-member asked this question.
Since all of the previous questions had asked about my job-related supervisory experience, my college business courses, my personal management style, or how I would handle a contrived employee problem, I was definitely caught off guard. Trying to gain a few seconds think about how to answer, I asked them a question: What does changing my own motor oil have to do with this management position?
They told me that since quick turnaround on their data entry jobs was critical to meeting their clients’ requirements, they couldn’t afford to have much down-time in their facility. So when there were problems with any of their data-entry equipment, supervisors were supposed to try to resolve the issue without calling the vendor for repairs (and waiting for a field technician who might not arrive for hours). For that reason, they only wanted to hire supervisors who weren’t afraid to get dirty fixing things. (Personally, I thought there were surely better ways to determine my mechanical aptitude!)
Anyway, I told them that I personally did most of the repairs necessary to keep my aging 1973 VW Beetle roadworthy, and I was offered the job. However, since I disliked my interview “treatment” and thought it might be indicative of their organization’s management culture (and had three other interviews lined up), I turned down their offer on the spot.
– Timothy G. Wiedman, D.B.A., Former Associate Prof. of Management & Human Resources of Doane University
“If you were a kitchen appliance, which kitchen appliance would you be and why?”
I was applying to work as an English teacher for a nonprofit in the education industry and was being interviewed by the Program Director. In the interview, he asked [this] question.
It really caught me off guard! I responded that I would be a refrigerator because I’m a chill person who’s usually stuffed with food. It was a goofy answer, but the interviewer laughed and mentioned that he liked my creativity. I ended up landing the position!
– Sarah Hancock, Content Marketing Manager at BestCompany.com
“What if someone asks you to join at “double” the pay we offer?”
Reason for Asking: By asking such burning questions and putting them in difficult situations, we wanted to judge the clarity of thoughts and honesty in their opinions. Spontaneity is another factor under consideration in this case as taking a longer duration to answer enhances the odds of giving “framed answers.”
– Ketan Kapoor, CEO and Co-founder of Mettl
“Given a chance, would you sabotage a colleague’s career to climb up the ladder?”
Reason for Asking: This question can reveal multiple insights about a professional whether it’s their integrity, honesty, work ethics or the value system. How far a person go for the professional ladder speaks what culture can you expect in future. People answering in positive are most likely to promote negative competition, a toxic work culture while detesting collaboration and teamwork. Answering in negative, on the other hand, is the sign of an individual who believes in fairness and giving credit to the deserving people.
– Ketan Kapoor, CEO and Co-founder of Mettl
“What if you find out your boss is having an affair with a colleague?”
Reason for Asking: We asked this to check how efficiently can a person demarcate personal and professional boundaries. While one person might look to extract personal benefits in this case, the other person might work as usual with negligible impact on working relationships. It’s an excellent question, if you are to judge a candidate on “professional ethics” and the ability to retain “confidential” information in their head. However, it’s important to check the reasoning behind the answer to arrive at a conclusion.
Typical Responses: The question evoked wild responses. However, we preferred candidates who demonstrated a strong work ethics and chose to step out from overlapping personal and professional lives. The initial premise was to choose candidates who stay away from grapevine and fostering rumors at workplace, ultimately leading to a toxic work culture.
– Ketan Kapoor, CEO and Co-founder of Mettl
“If a plane was filled with Skittles and you had to empty it as fast as you can, how would you do it?”
My answer: It depends on the kind of plane. If it were one of the planes people go skydiving out of, it’d be easy to just fly the plane, and open the hatch to let the skittles fall out. If that didn’t get them all out, I’d use a broom, and just sweep the rest out.
Context: This was for a position as a Marketing Assistant at a Financial Institution and was asked by the VP of Marketing.*
– Lauren Crain, Digital Marketer at HealthLabs.com
“How do you make an omelet?”
My answer: You start by getting the tools: a pan, a stove, and a spatula. Then you take out the ingredients: 3 eggs, oil/butter, cheese, chopped bell peppers, chopped mushrooms, and chopped bacon (Of course these ingredients are optional and interchangeable). Place the pan on the stove, and the butter/oil in the pan. Turn on the stove to medium heat and allow the butter/oil to get hot. In a separate bowl, crack open the eggs, and whisk them together until they get fluffy. Pour the eggs into the pan, and add the ingredients. Allow the eggs to cook through and slide the omelet off of the pan onto a plate, folding it as it slides down.
Context: This was for a position as a Content Writer for a small business and was asked by the Founder and CEO.*
– Lauren Crain, Digital Marketer at HealthLabs.com
“How would you describe the color green to a blind and deaf person?”
I was interviewing for a job at GNC, the health nutrition store, as a simple associate to work the registers. The interviewer was the manager of this specific location in a small town. The interview was going fine, all of the normal questions asked, and then she asks that question.
WHAT. Is that even possible? I fumbled over my words for a couple minutes and then simply said – I’m so sorry, I really don’t know how to answer that question. She then moved away from the question, so I said – What’s the answer you were looking for? How would you answer that? and she responded with I don’t know. THEN WHY EVEN ASK THE QUESTION?
– Cassidy Barney, SEO Manager of Epic Marketing
“How many gas stations are there in the United States?”
When interviewing for a Marketing Director job at Earthwatch, an environmental non-profit in Boston, I was asked this question. They wanted to see how I thought through a problem logically.
– Brett Rudy, Sr. Director, Marketing at Constant Therapy
“What is the one thing that you believe to be true that very few others do?”
As our team have scaled I have conducted over 50 interviews in the last three months and I recently inserted [this] tricky question just to see what our job candidates would say. The question comes from the book Zero to One by Peter Thiel.
The question shows you if person answering the question has engage in any sort of deep thought and also about how they approach business and life in general. There really is no right answer to the question moreover it just really shows you what level of thinking the person answering it is operating at. This is highly valuable if determining the candidate is an A, B , or C player.
– Zach Hendrix, Co-founder of GreenPal
“What is your gun noise?”
We asked this as we consider it important that our hires have a personality and a good sense of humour, so we felt that it would be a good way to test their ability to relax and have a laugh in a pressure situation, as well as to see how witty they are. We hoped people would see the fun of this question, and make big machine gun noises or the sound of a shotgun cocking. The person we asked just said “bang” after having paused for a considerable amount of time. It’s not a question we’ve used again since.”
– Steve Pritchard, HR Consultant, The London School of Make-Up
“I’ve asked [candidates] to bring a favorite mug to a follow-up interview. The reasons why I do it are pretty simple: 1) I want to find out if the person will actually remember to do this. 2) I want to see their personality.”
When the person comes to the follow-up interview I want to get to know them better. And the best way to find out more about the person is to let them talk about something that they like. This way they don’t think too much of what they are saying and you can get a better perspective of what the person is really like.
– Sarunas Budrikas, President of Angle180
“What are the qualities you like least and most in your parents?”
This questions allows us to see how the interviewee will tend to act in the coming months and years. If they don’t like that one of their parents were super unorganized, they most likely will tend to be more organized. People tend to adapt to the qualities that they like in their parents and shy away from qualities that they don’t like. Are these qualities that they are going to track towards going to be qualities that you are looking for in this candidate?
– Shawn Breyer, Owner of Breyer Home Buyers
“You are trapped on a life raft with a nun, an old man and a baby. There is only room for three of you, and you must decide who you throw off the raft. Who do you choose any why?”
He refused to give me any other info. I explained that the man could have navigation skills, the nun could be a world class angler. I finally said, Okay, the baby, because if we all die, so does the baby.
I got the job and found out later that in all his years of asking the question, no one had ever said the baby.
– Sean Spicer, Inbound Marketing Manager of AgileIT
“What’s your favorite cartoon and why?”
I had applied to work as a communication specialist at the international headquarters of American Leak Detection, an emergency service home provider. The director of marketing asked me. I responded that I’ve always loved Nickelodeon’s Hey Arnold! cartoon because it was hilarious and very true to life when I watched as a pre-teen.
The interviewer knew he was asking an odd question, because after I replied, he told me that a former boss had asked him the same question during an interview years ago and he’s found it relaxes people and gives you a chance to see their silly side.
– Stacy Nagai, Public Relations Manager at Chapman University
“What’s your spirit animal?”
I was definitely surprised by the question as it followed some fairly standard interview questions. I even asked for the interviewer to repeat the question just in case I heard him wrong. My answer was that my spirit animal is a husky because I’m always up for an adventure and will have a smile on my face the whole time.
After I got hired on, I asked my manager about the question and he told me it was to make sure I was a good culture fit. We have a great culture here at TSheets and do our best to protect that with each employee we bring on.
– Patrick Adcock, Marketing Analyst at TSheets by QuickBooks
“Why are manhole covers round?”
I stumbled and stammered a bit, and then tried to same something about circles giving the maximum area for people and equipment with the minimum amount of metal to make the cover. While this is kind of true, it was not the real answer. I also did not get the job. The real answer is:
So they don’t fall in.
A round manhole cover is slightly bigger than the diameter of the hole that it covers. A cover that is square, could be turned diagonal to the corners of a square hole, and dropped in. In fact any other shape can be manipulated in such as way as to allow the cover to fall into the hole. Only a round cover is completely idiot proof.
– Chris Morrissey, Head of Bioinformatics at Bioage Labs
“What’s your favorite candy?”
[That’s my] favorite question to ask during in an interview. While it may seem like an innocent unassuming question, it actually gives me a very vivid insight into the candidates personality and thought process. Responses can range from a dead end I don’t have one right through to a history lesson on the creation and inception of Skittles! It’s a great way to see how intuitive and passionate people can be. Since there is no right or wrong answer, it gives the candidate to talk freely without the worry of checking boxes to impress me.
Working in online marketing, this kind of passion is important because if the candidate can convey their passion for something fairly mundane, it shows me that they’ll easily be able to express their ideas and creativity in the job. We rarely like to recruit for specific positions because we’d rather have a well rounded employee and this is a great way to tell how well they’ll be able to slot into these different positions.
– Jon Hayes, Marketer for Authority Hacker