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Are Ridiculous Interview Questions Really Ridiculous? By John Bruce


Ages ago I saw an article on the strange interview questions and I wanted to share it because it seems to be a trending topic at the moment with many people venting their frustrations at what they perceive to be ridiculous lines of questioning when on interview. It doesn’t seem to matter if you’re interviewing for a job in law or banking or teaching, or whether it’s entry or director level, no one seems left out when it comes to being thrown a curve ball.

However, rather than just laugh at the silliness of some of the ones HR/recruiters come out with, I wanted to use it to highlight the potential value (believe it or not!) of questions like these!

The full article is here but my favourites are these;

Choose a city and estimate how many piano tuners operate a business there.

: How many Big Macs does McDonald’s sell each year in the U.S?

‘What kind of tree would you be?’

‘What do you think of lava lamps? And Dilbert?’

: ‘How many children are born every day?’

‘Tell me a story.’

St. Jude Medical:
‘Why are manholes round?’

‘If you had a choice between two superpowers – being invisible or flying –which would you choose?’

The article has done the rounds and usually elicits laughs, groans or angry cries of "ridiculous" and I quite agree with all of those sentiments. But for me what it also highlights is the one thing that people seem to forget about interview questions - most of them aren't really questions, rather they're a prompt to get you to talk and see what you're like, how you think and communicate. If this wasn’t important, they would just hire (or not) on the strength of your CV.

If you’re applying for a paralegal role at Facebook, I don't think they care if you know how many Big Macs are sold and I’m pretty sure choosing invisibility over flying wouldn’t discount you from a marketing role at Microsoft! But these companies clearly do care if you are able to think on your feet, handle yourself under pressure and communicate how your "out of the box" thinking arrived at the answer you gave. 

When an employer asks you a "trick" or “silly” question, you are going to score much higher by being able to address it in a confident, thoughtful and maybe even funny way than if you'd googled the "correct" answer the night before. They're more interested in the journey than the destination. And one sure way to fail is to show that you think their question is ridiculous.

Questions are there, not to stop you getting the job but to give you an opportunity to tell the employer why you're the best candidate. Your goal shouldn't be to "beat" the question, you should be trying to make it your friend, regardless of how ridiculous it is - we all have at least one ridiculous friend after all.....


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