How to Answer Unexpected Job Interview Questions

Posted by Nicole Williams on 12 August 2016

We’ve all been there. You’re in a job interview and you get one of those unexpected questions. Well don't fear, we can help. Here are 9 unexpected questions, what they really mean and how to answer them.

1) Cats or Dogs?

What it really means: what kind of character are you?

This question is designed to show an employer your personality traits and skills. For example, as a dog lover, you can explain that you’re loyal and will see a job through until the end. As a cat lover, you can explain your sharp sense of detail or the ability to work quickly. Another variation for this questions is ‘what type of animal would you be?’ which is all about the explanation rather than the animal you choose.

2) How many balloons will fit in this room?

What it really means: Can you solve problems?

The purpose of this question is to see how you approach a problem. Try to present a solution and if you’re not sure, make a guess rather than giving no answer. It is not about the answer, it’s about how you go and find the answer.

3) If you could be a superhero which one would you be?

What it really means: will you fit in the team?

The interviewer wants to find out more about your personality and also your ability to think on your feet. Any superhero is fine, but why you chose this character is what they want to know. This question tests your creativity and moves you away from the rehearsed answers.

4) When going on holiday, when do you pack your things?

What it really means: how organised are you?

If you like to pack last minute, why is that? Is it because you are generally quite organised or is it because you don’t like to pack what you’ll need before you go? Being able to justify your answer is crucial here.

5) How would you react if you turned into an animal?

What it really means: Can you think on your feet?

Would you want to turn back into a human right away or can you adapt to a new situation? Your answer will give the interviewer an idea of how you work best, so think quicky and come up with a response.

6) If you were an ice cream flavour, what would you be?

What it really means: What kind of personality do you have?

If you get stuck, ask for a moment to think about it. Think about the qualities you’ll need for the role, then think about what kind of flavour they apply to. Remember, you can mix up flavours if you can’t think of a single one that fits you well.

7) Name five uses for a stapler without staples.

What it really means: Can you think outside the box?

Whatever you choose to use the stapler as, this question is all about being innovative. You want to show you can think outside of the box and deal with change effectively. Use your imagination, your answer to this could be anything.

8) Describe making a cup of tea to an alien who has never heard of tea.

What it really means: How good are your communication skills?

Try to explain your answer in an interesting, but still simple way. Do you break it down into steps? Do you talk them through it? This question is designed to test your communication style. Be aware of how your answer reflects the job you are applying for.

9) If you could have a job on another planet, what would it be?

What it really means: What are your professional goals?

The interviewer wants you to be ambitious, so don’t be afraid to be passionate about your reply. Getting to know the people on the planet and figuring out what they need is a good long term solution, but you have to think of the short term too.

What’s the weirdest question you’ve ever been asked in an interview?