Illustration: Ashley Siebels
You network, hit the job boards, send out your cover letter, and finally get the callback. Now, comes the hard part: the in-person interview.
Knowing how to sell your story to managers means knowing how to handle any curveball they throw your way. At some of these well-known companies, that could mean getting a little out there.
Using employer-rater Glassdoor’s listings, Ladders compiled a list of the seven wildest, weirdest interview questions for you to consult now so you’ll know your answer for later.
How can you prepare?
Remember that how you get to your answer is as important as what you say. Stay calm. Ask follow-up interview questions if need be. Employers ask these seemingly random questions to push you out of your comfort zone and see how you think and act under pressure.
Cisco: What kind of tree would you be?
According to Glassdoor, Cisco Systems uses this question is for senior technical writer positions. As with all questions asking you to speak in metaphor, choose a tree that’s reflective of your spirit and representative of your career journey. Your answer should be a conversation-starter, not one that raises eyebrows.
When asked by journalist Barbara Walters what tree she would be in a 1991 interview, actress Katherine Hepburn had a pragmatic answer. She said she’d prefer to be an oak tree, so she could avoid Dutch elm disease.
Whole Foods Market: Would you rather fight one horse-sized duck, or 100 duck-sized horses?
This is a question meat-cutter candidates for Whole Foods have faced, Glassdoor states. There’s not necessarily a right or wrong answer here.
You’re being tested on your problem-solving skills, on whether you tackle smaller-sized problems or bigger-sized problems first.
Dell: Are you more of a hunter or a gatherer?
Best brush up on your prehistoric history of Homo sapiens to answer this!
Facebook: How much do you charge to wash every window in Seattle?
This was reportedly used at an interview for an online sales position at the tech giant. Amusing answers by online users musing over this question include “rain can wash the windows,” and “I don’t do windows!”
Clark Construction: A penguin walks over who is wearing a sombrero. What does he say and why is he here?
An interview candidate who said he was asked this question for an office engineer job at the company said he replied, “Where’s the sun screen?” It’s unclear if this candidate got the job.
This could also be a good time to show off your critical thinking skills by asking follow-up questions, such as “When?” and “How did penguins learn how to talk?”
SpaceX: When a hot dog expands, in which direction does it split and why?
This is the meaty question propulsion analysts for SpaceX face in interviews. The answer, according to physics, is lengthwise. And it may seem trivial, but once you know why and how a sausage splits, you’ll know how to apply the principles of hoop stress and longitudinal stress to bigger engineering structures like submarine hulls and aircraft fuselages.
A good engineer would know how to answer this. But as one user on Glassdoor posited, you can have fun with your answer. “It expands & cooks proficiently where resistance is greater, yet achieves desired results. Much like I will do as a member of your team,” this user wrote.
U.K. survey: If a hippo gets stuck in a hole, how would you get it out?
This is a question one worker said they got when they answered the U.K. Association of Accounting Technicians’ survey. A hiring manager asking this wants to know your creative approach to oddball questions. But if you can figure out the physical logistics to this question, please let us know.