20 Ultra-Strange Questions Asked In Job Interviews

We're fond of highlighting strange and difficult job interview questions here at Lifehacker. But we can't quite see the point of asking someone if they would be willing to wear a sombrero to pick up a colleague from the airport, or if they can name all seven dwarves in Snow White. Nonetheless, these things have happened.

Ice cream picture from Shutterstock

Job search site OneShift has released a list of 20 unusual questions that emerged when it was surveying site users about their interview experiences. If there's a common theme to the questions, it's that they seem designed to force candidates to improvise, rather than relying on prepared answers. The other common element is that explaining why you chose your answer is likely to be more important than what the answer is.

 
Bring an item with you to the interview that best suits your personality.
Imagine a pen that could do anything. How would you sell it to me?
On a day to day basis, what number do you think of the most?
If you could have a day on earth where you could do one thing as much as you wanted what would it be?
If you started dating another employee, would you inform the manager about your relationship?
What would you expect to see written on your gravestone?
Name the seven dwarves from Disney's Snow White.
How would you move three chairs from one end of the room to the other?
Here's a pen between us. How would you get the pen over to me?
Would you wear a sombrero at the airport so company guests can identify you during pick-up?
Are there wolves in Australia?
If you could be a type of animal, what would you be? Why?
You have several hundred kilos of cardboard boxes. With a group of ten people under your command, how would you delegate the tasks to move the boxes between two points one kilometre apart?
If you were a car, which one would you be?
If you inherited an island: What would you do with the island? Who would live with you on the island? What would be the top 3 rules of the island?
What would you prefer to get out of working with people: A friendship, a productive working relationship, or a new partner?
What fruit best describes you?
What ice-cream flavour would you be?
What TV personality best describes you?
What's your favourite colour and why?

How would you answer these? Tell us in the comments.


Comments

    First rule of Island Club, you do not talk about Island Club.

    99% of these are just stupid and if i was asked these in an interview, id probably just walk away.
    Granted these questions are taken out of context, im sure if you saw the job advert for these it might make more sense

    such as this question
    You have several hundred kilos of cardboard boxes. With a group of ten people under your command, how would you delegate the tasks to move the boxes between two points one kilometre apart?
    A perfectly valid and normal question and not strange at all for an individual in warehousing and logistics

      It's a problem solving question. The answer will indicate a number of things. Your ability to think on your feet. Your basic mathematics ability. Your ability to delegate. Your ability to identify colleagues strengths and weaknesses. Your ability to cope with a stressful situation (such as answering a complicated hypothetical question). Your willingness to co-operate with what is asked of you.

      The interviewer would not be looking for the "correct" answer, as such. There probably is no "correct" answer, or if there is there might well be more than one.

      It's just an opportunity to observe the applicant during the problem solving process.

      In my mind, it's quite a "soft" problem solving task so I wouldn't see the need to take offense.

        yes i do agree that some of these are control questions, i chose logistics as an example as it was the first thing that came to my head which applied very well.
        But can someone explain how "What fruit best describes you?" or "What would you expect to see written on your gravestone?" or most of the others would apply? (maybe if you were working in a juice bar or in a funeral home selling lol stones)

          I'm not too sure on the fruit one, but the idea of the questions is to assess a person's character and ability, it has absolutely nothing to do with the job. You could ask "What would you expect to see written on your gravestone?" in an interview for a Sales position, HR Position, or any other position, it's a question that will almost directly answer how you see yourself as a person.

          If you were to answer "I expect to see 'devoted father' written on my gravestone." then they know you see yourself as a devoted family man and will probably be acting in your best interests for your family. If you were to answer "I expect to see 'He was the life of the party' on my gravestone." then they can tell straight away you think you're a loveable kind of guy, or maybe just think you're a big shot. Either way, it provides a little insight into their character.

            Yes this is right - well largely.

            It is about their character, personality and ability - it doesn't matter if it's for a receptionist or Senior Accountant - although they do want to be impressed - and they will let the answers influence their decision - so in that regard the answers are to do with the job - but certainly the questions don't relate to any particular function of the position (as cesario seemed to think),

            Another good point that you make is that it provides a little insight. Little being the operative word. Maybe that's all that's needed. I don't need to know why I like someone, I just need to know that I do. And that's what this is about. In the few minutes that the applicant spoke did they impress us, charm us, be warm towards us, humour us. Or bore us. Or annoy us. Or turn us off.

            It's like playing a few conversation starter games on a first date.

            Personal and work life are two completely different realities. Unless one is the CEO of a bigshot company, their gravestone will have nothing to do with work; ergo, work has nothing to do by asking you such a stupid question.

          What fruit best describes you?

          A pineapple. Prickly on the outside, soft on the inside. Can be bitter but mostly sweet.

          An orange. Well rounded.

          A pair. Because you'll want more than one of me.

          It's just a silly, harmless, inoffensive prompt of a question. Maybe you can come up with a funny, insightful answer - maybe you can't.

          I would NEVER ask these questions, as they are ultimately fluff that I'm not interested in - but if I were the actual employer trying to build a warm relationship with the applicant that I hope to be an employee of the company for several years, I would.

          What would you expect to see on your gravestone?

          Father of three. Best mate. Always helped out when people were in trouble. Chronic gambler.

          Whatever. The question is just throwing you a canvas, and you can sneer at it, or play with it. They want you to play.

      I actually think that's one of the best questions there, and not limited to warehousing or logistics at all. Answering it well would show good general reasoning and task management skills, which would be applicable in a wide variety of jobs. Not every question in an interview has to be specifically about the job itself.

        I think some of these questions are designed to demonstrate how articulate the candidate is too.

    "Imagine a pen that could do anything. How would you sell it to me?"

    I would wave said pen at the dickhead interviewer and yell Potter-style faux-Latin.

    Emptare stylus!

      I would say...

      You see this pen? This pen has time travel abilities. I can go back 10 seconds in time simply by clicking this button. Click.

      You see this pen? This pen has time travel abilities. I can go back 10 seconds in time simply by clicking this button. Click.

      And then I would bow, shake hands and accept the position.

      Last edited 01/05/14 12:01 pm

      I'd do nothing. If the pen could do anything then it should bloody well get off it's arse and sell itself!

    Here’s a pen between us. How would you get the pen over to me?

    If you really wanted the pen, I would encourage you to get it yourself.

      Don't come to me with problems - come to me with solutions. You want the pen then you tell me how you intend to get the pen.

      Yup. There it is. If you want it, get it. Not my job to pass it to you.

    "What would you expect to see written on your gravestone?" - Here lies David, a man who D'OH!

    "On a day to day basis, what number do you think of the most?" - "Err, fifty-six.. ish?" "Fifty-six? Fifty-six?! Now that's all I can think about! I'm gonna kill you, you no good fifty-sixin'---!"

    these kind of questions sound like the ones that would be asked at a creative/artsy type role at a company that seems pretty open to stuff.

    you know something like graphic designer etc…

    If that’s the case then these questions seem pretty normal

      Had the pen question before. I told the CEO I wouldn't sell it and I'd go and do 'anything'.
      Thought maybe he liked the gutsy attitude. Guess I didn't get the job, because he was too afraid I would take over his role as CEO with my magic pen-wielding powers

      Yeah, these are all good to very good questions - although "What TV personality best describes you?" is worded incorrectly, Unless you've been described by more than one TV personality that is. Same with the fruit question.

      I had a quick think of my answers to these questions and I enjoyed the process - there's nothing at all offensive about these questions and they do allow for an opportunity to present honest, inventive answers that can provide an insight to the applicants personality, priorities and problem solving abilities.

      Best suited, of course, to open ended behavioral style interviews which are generally wishy-washy and best suited for those that have time to burn. But overall, very good.

    My response to everyone of them is:
    We can either move on to a relevant question that relates to the position I am applying for or I'm going to leave.

    Last edited 01/05/14 5:52 pm

    "What fruit best describes you?"
    "If I don't get this job - probably a paw paw..."

    Last edited 01/05/14 9:00 pm

    Bring an item with you to the interview that best suits your personality.

    No item required, I perfectly suit my personality

    Imagine a pen that could do anything. How would you sell it to me?

    I'd spend 10 minutes telling you about things it can do and then say you can get it cheaper for cash

    On a day to day basis, what number do you think of the most?

    4

    If you could have a day on earth where you could do one thing as much as you wanted what would it be?

    Fly planes

    If you started dating another employee, would you inform the manager about your relationship?

    Perhaps

    What would you expect to see written on your gravestone?

    My name

    Name the seven dwarves from Disney’s Snow White.

    No idea

    How would you move three chairs from one end of the room to the other?

    Carry them, if there was a potential to need to move more shortly after i'd get a trolley

    Here’s a pen between us. How would you get the pen over to me?

    Throw it and say think quick

    Would you wear a sombrero at the airport so company guests can identify you during pick-up?

    The question there is have I?

    Are there wolves in Australia?

    What's with all the questions

    If you could be a type of animal, what would you be? Why?

    A loyal dog.

    You have several hundred kilos of cardboard boxes. With a group of ten people under your command, how would you delegate the tasks to move the boxes between two points one kilometre apart?

    I'd tell 1 person to get a truck and the rest to load them, walk to the other end and unload them

    If you were a car, which one would you be?

    A plane

    If you inherited an island: What would you do with the island? Who would live with you on the island? What would be the top 3 rules of the island?

    Live on it. Friends. No smoking, what happens on the island stays on the island, no unnecessary work

    What would you prefer to get out of working with people: A friendship, a productive working relationship, or a new partner?

    F***ed if I know

    What fruit best describes you?

    Mango. I'm awesome while I'm around but I'm not around long enough that you get sick of me.

    What ice-cream flavour would you be?

    Cookies & cream or bubblegum

    What TV personality best describes you?

    James May

    What’s your favourite colour and why?

    0480BA I'm not web safe but I look awesome in certain situations

    "Bring an item with you to the interview that best suits your personality."

    A wet blanket.

    Imagine a pen that could do anything. How would you sell it to m

    I'd sell it with sex appeal. And strip off to a bikini. And perform fellatio with it.

    "On a day to day basis, what number do you think of the most?"

    8008135

    "If you could have a day on earth where you could do one thing as much as you wanted what would it be?"

    The answer to the previous question ought to give you a clue.

    "If you started dating another employee, would you inform the manager about your relationship?"

    I only date managers. But I don't necessarily inform them.

    "What would you expect to see written on your gravestone?"

    A K-mart price tag.

    Name the seven dwarves from Disney’s Snow White.

    John, Barry, Cecil, Harmony, Bruno, Rodriguez, Zelda

    Well you said I could name them, right

    How would you move three chairs from one end of the room to the other?

    Purchase 12 mini jet packs on my company card and strap one to each leg.

    "Here’s a pen between us. How would you get the pen over to me?"

    Nerf gun.

    Would you wear a sombrero at the airport so company guests can identify you during pick-up?

    No. But I did wear a Nazi uniform to the Royal Wedding.

    Are there wolves in Australia?

    Yeah, what do you think holds up the ceiling.

    "You have several hundred kilos of cardboard boxes. With a group of ten people under your command, how would you delegate the tasks to move the boxes between two points one kilometre apart?"

    I'd shout at them.

    "If you could be a type of animal, what would you be? Why?"

    I think an Octopus would be the best typist. That have 8 hands.

    "If you were a car, which one would you be?"

    Bigfoot. Because you know what they say about cars with big feet. Wink wink.

    "If you inherited an island: What would you do with the island? Who would live with you on the island? What would be the top 3 rules of the island?"

    I would set up a small group of computer hackers. We would hack into your business account and syphon off my wages whether or not I pass this interview.

    "What would you prefer to get out of working with people: A friendship, a productive working relationship, or a new partner?"

    Their lunch money.

    "What fruit best describes you?"

    Julian Clary.

    "What ice-cream flavour would you be?"

    Beef Stroganoff.

    "What TV personality best describes you?"

    colonel gaddafi

    What’s your favourite colour and why?

    A rainbow. Because I'm special.

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