Sometimes during a job interview, the interviewer will throw out a strange question that doesn't seem to have anything to do with the job. Whether he or she is just warming you up for the real questions, the best way to answer irrelevant questions is to make them more relevant — tie them to work activities.
Photo by AIGA Austin
Johanna Rothman writes on the Hiring Technical People blog how to "bring the interviewer back from la-la land to the here and now". For example:
What about if someone asks, "What is your passion?" Lord, save me. Do not say, "Sailing around the world." You need too much time off from work for that. It is irrelevant what your passion is. Interviewers claim they want to know if you are well-rounded. Nonsense. Here are two possible examples:
Here's how you answer this in a behaviour-description way in an agile environment, if it's true: I'm a T-shaped or a comb-shaped person. That is, I really like (development, testing, whatever) first. But I want to help the team ship product. Here's what I did in the last project to do so….
Here's how you answer this in a behaviour-description way in a non-agile environment, if it's true: I have a number of interests. I find as I get older that serendipity is a wonderful thing. I read a lot and I meet a lot of people. In fact, just last week I read something in (take your pick of a business mag or the Wall St. Journal) that could have helped us on our last project. See, here's how the last project went. We did this, and it went pretty well. On reflection, I could have used that pointer to improve it . . .
Unfortunately, the onus is on you to keep the discussion on your skills and experience, but that's what the job interview is all about anyway.
Hit up the link below for a few more examples of silly questions and possible answers.
How You Answer Irrelevant Questions in an Interview, Part 3 [Hiring Technical People]