Say what, now?
In the second part of his ‘Strangest job interview questions and how to handle them’ series, Excel Recruitment MD Barry Whelan breaks down how to handle six more challenging humdingers
15 January 2018 | 0
New Year, new career, is right on topic for January as thoughts of a fresh start abound. As you get out there interviewing, we continue our series of the strangest job interview questions and how to handle them. This month we ratchet them up a notch with more of the most bizarre interview questions we have ever come across.
If these come your way this year, at least you will be prepared!
Explain what a database is to an eight year old.
These days, it may seem like the youngest generation knows more about computers than their parents. However this question is more to do with understanding your own knowledge of technology. If you are an expert, there is no reason why you would have any trouble, for instance, breaking a database down into simple, clear terms that even a child would understand.
How to handle: You shouldn’t be condescending to your imaginary child but at the same time, you have to presume a child knows nothing about a database. Just break down an explanation to simple, understandable terms and don’t go into too much depth, keeping in mind most children’s short attention span.
What is your passion?
Interviewers do want to get to know you. They want to know what your interests, hobbies and indeed passions are. This question is given for a number of reasons, of which getting to know you isn’t actually one of them.
The interviewer wants to hear how well you explain yourself, how you think about the question and process the answer; they want to see how you deal with the ambiguity of it.
How to handle: Don’t be worried about divulging your love for home brewing or raising Labradors. This question isn’t about catching you out with your love for fantasy football. Be honest, divulge your passion and articulate how you got into in, what you love about it and how you pursue it. You don’t need to be passionate about ‘working hard’!
Have you ever stolen a pen from work?
Nobody likes a thief, but whether you have mistakenly put a work pen in your pocket or indeed stocked up on office supplies for the kid’s homework, neither is grand theft auto.
This question is only designed to disarm you. Give you something out of leftfield that doesn’t really have a right or wrong answer.
How to handle: Everyone has taken a pen home from work, whether deliberately or by mistake. You should take the question seriously. Confess to the crime, but explain how you may have done so by mistake and that there is usually a cycle of pens coming home in your pocket and coming back into the office the next day.
Where does your boss think you are today?
Making time for an interview is tough. There are only so many holidays you can take and if the time is in the middle of the day as opposed to outside office hours, it can be really tough to get away. This is a really tough question that you need to handle on your feet, especially when your new potential boss is looking to see how you treat your current boss to get a read on how you will treat them.
How to handle: Be honest but tactful. You most probably have not told your current employer that you are attending an interview, but at the same time you should not pull a sick day. Make it clear that you are taking the time off that you are entitled to take and that you finished whatever work was required of you before leaving work.
Would you rather fight one horse-sized duck or 100 duck-sized horses?
This is a question reportedly asked of candidates for an interview in Wholefoods Market. It is not a right or wrong answer question, instead just a way for the interviewer to observe how you will react under pressure and deal with something completely out of left-field.
How to handle: Think through the pros and cons of taking on either of these foes. Demonstrate logical lateral thinking and come back with conviction with your answer. Lastly, don’t quack up under pressure!