Interviewing: Preparing for the unexpected

Most of us have been asked an unusual interview question or know someone who has. Oftentimes, the most unusual questions that are asked during an interview also have the tendency to be the most important. The purpose behind asking these questions is to help the interviewer gauge a job candidate’s ability to think on their feet, reason critically or creatively, solve problems, stay calm under pressure and manage stress.

Sample interview questions

The following are five unusual interview questions asked by well recognized companies:

  • Google: “How much do you charge to wash every window in Seattle?”
  • Boeing: “What do you think of lava lamps? And Dilbert?”
  • Dell: “What songs best describe your work ethic?”
  • Apple: “If I was talking to your best friend, what is one thing they would say you need to work on?”
  • Medtronic: “What do you think you will hate about this job?”

There are a multitude of questions like this that could be asked and some companies are notorious for asking them. Though verbal and psychological curve balls like these can be challenging, it is important to remain calm and think on your feet. Typically the interviewer is not seeking a specific answer, but is more so testing your ability to develop a logical response. One way to buy yourself a few seconds of time is by repeating the question to the interviewer in an effort to make sure you understand it.

Tips to prepare for your interview

The following are helpful hints to prepare for unusual questions during your interview:

  • Research the company by visiting their website and reviewing their history and mission statement. Search for recent press releases and trade or business publications for additional insight. You can also leverage websites like which actually post interview questions other candidates have encountered.
  • Evaluate your qualifications and the job requirements
  • Anticipate the questions you may be asked and ask yourself how you would answer typical and atypical interview questions
  • Practice your responses to interview questions with a friend or out loud by yourself
  • Stay calm and avoid feeling flustered or overwhelmed

Be yourself

Many companies hire personalities and people – not paper qualifications and experience. Your answer is usually not as important as how you react to the question and your ability to think on your feet. Keep in mind, if you’ve made it to the interview then the company liked you enough to meet you in person. Be yourself and let your personality shine.  

For more information on this topic, or to learn how Baker Tilly search and staffing specialists can help, contact our team.

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