Just like the Big Game, the interview process can include unexpected plays, bad calls and other surprises (think power outage at the New Orleans Superdome) that may very well be designed to throw you off your game. More and more companies are choosing to ask unorthodox questions during their interviews as a way of eliminating candidates-or allowing candidates to eliminate themselves. Today’s job interview is almost like being on a game show; you have to be prepared for anything.
Rather than rehearsing answers to some of the most asked interview questions of yesteryear, relying on your personality, creativity and resourcefulness may help take you all the way to the end zone–touchdown! Of course, you should go into an interview confident, knowledgeable and ready to sell yourself, but don’t get so psychologically attached to textbook answers that you’re not able to respond to a trick play. An interview is equivalent to being on the 50-yard line: you are halfway to your intended destination. Don’t fumble and miss your opportunity to score.
Instead of being stuck in the box, come on outside for some fresh ideas. Here’s a list of six random interview questions and tips for finishing strong even when questions are coming at you faster than the Ravens’ defense (sorry 49ers):
- How would you describe yourself in three words? Funny, handsome and sensitive might work if you’re filling out an online dating profile, but hiring managers are looking for adjectives that relate to your ability to perform successfully in the role you’re applying for. Dependable, resourceful and committed more accurately reflect the qualities of a potential new hire, but try not to be too generic with your answers.
- What is your favorite song? A song that contains misogynistic, racial or other discriminatory lyrics might not be an ideal response. The type of music you listen to can serve as a reflection of your personal views or preferences. Think long and hard before answering with a potentially offensive song choice.
- What is your favorite drink? Unless you’re a bartender or interviewing for a bartender position, an alcoholic beverage might not be an ideal response. But if you are truly a fan of a specific spirit, you should be honest and follow up with a brief reason as to why you chose the drink. For example, “My favorite drink is pina colada. It reminds me of a trip I took with some friends last year.” Remember, behind every question you are asked is a reason. Perhaps, the employer wants to know if you will you cause their healthcare costs to increase with your “excessive” drinking habits. Timeless words of wisdom: think before you speak.
- What would I find in your refrigerator right now? Translation: are you organized? Does your refrigerator look like a scene from those Febreze commercials where people are blindfolded and asked to guess the mystery scent? Furthermore, does it smell like something that Febreze couldn’t even cover up? The point is companies prefer employees with great planning skills and good hygiene. For all practical purposes, referring to types of food (broccoli, carrots, etc.,) may work better. After all, you are health-conscious, right?
- If you could be a superhero, what would you want your superpowers to be? Feel free to get creative with this question, but don’t step out of bounds. Maybe your superpowers would allow you to create complex excel spreadsheets in a single glance. Hey, a little humor doesn’t hurt.
- What kind of people do you dislike? Never mention anyone specifically. Even if you despised a past supervisor or co-worker, providing such an “honest” answer will only appear distasteful. In this scenario, you may elect to describe personality traits or habits. Something like, “I am not particularly fond of tardiness” should suffice. When in doubt, choose safe so you won’t be sorry.