April 11, 2016 5:12 pm
Updated: April 11, 2016 6:21 pm

Job interview questions: possible curve-balls to watch out for

What's the weirdest thing you've been asked in an interview?

AP Photo/Lynne Sladky
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Preparing for a job interview and wondering how to ace it? Be ready for the unexpected because some employers like to throw oddball interview questions.

“Employers are asking tough interview questions to test a job candidate’s critical thinking skills, see how they problem solve on the spot, and gauge how they approach difficult situations,” said Susan Underwood of Glassdoor.

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The jobs and recruiting marketplace has come out with the most difficult and bizarre questions job seekers could face when interviewing for any given position. The highlights of their findings below are based on hundreds of thousands of interviews shared by job candidates over the past year.

Google exec Yasmin Green told Business Insider last week there’s one question she likes to ask every job candidate: “How would you make money from an ice-cream stand in Central Park?”

“I’m curious to see how people deal with ambiguity and whether they can have fun while thinking on their feet,” she explained, adding that she wants to see prospective employees be able to power through any obstacle that comes their way.

To land a job at Google, she said, you also need to “be prepared to challenge the premise of the question.”

According to experts, the worst thing you can say when thrown one of these curve-balls is “I don’t know.” It’s okay to take a moment to think about it, said job search strategist Michelle Cook of Calgary Career Counselling.

WATCH: How to ace your next job interview

Top 10 oddball interview questions in Canada

  1.  “What was the last thing you Googled?” (asked by Tim Hortons)
  2.  “Which Game of Thrones character do you like most?” (Bench Accounting)
  3.  “If you could sit next to one person on a transcontinental flight, who would it be?” (Salesforce)
  4.  “How do you calculate the number of red cars in a city?” (Manulife)
  5.  “If you were a utensil, which one would you be and why?” (Jack Astor’s)
  6.  “If you had only 24 hours left on planet Earth, how would you spend it?” (Iridia Medical)
  7.  “Do you ever feel like a plastic bag?” (Canada’s Wonderland)
  8.  “We meet on an elevator, and you have until we reach the 10th floor to convince me that you’re right for the job. Go!” (Sunwing Airlines)
  9.  “If you were a Prime Minister for a day, what one law would you change and why?” (Davies Ward Phillips & Vineberg)
  10.  “How would you shuffle a deck of cards?” (StackAdapt)

Top 10 oddball interview questions in the U.S.

  1.  “When a hot dog expands, in which direction does it split and why?” (SpaceX Propulsion Structural Analyst)
  2.  “Would you rather fight 1 horse-sized duck, or 100 duck-sized horses?” (Whole Foods Market Meat Cutter)
  3.  “If you’re the CEO, what are the first three things you check about the business when you wake up?” (Dropbox Rotation Program)
  4.  “What would the name of your debut album be?” (Urban Outfitters Sales Associate)
  5.  “How would you sell hot coco in Florida?” (J.W. Business Acquisitions Human Resources Recruiter)
  6.  “If I gave you $40,000 to start a business, what would you start?” (Hubspot Account Manager)
  7.  “What would you do if you found a penguin in the freezer?” (Trader Joe’s job candidate)
  8.  “If you were a brand, what would be your motto?” (Boston Consulting Group Consultant)
  9.  “How many basketballs would fit in this room?” (Delta Airlines Revenue Management Co-op)
  10.  “If you had $2,000, how would you double it in 24 hours?” (Uniqlo Management Trainee)

Top 10 oddball interview questions in the U.K.

  1.  “Which magic power would you like to have?” (Topshop)
  2.  “If you were a fruit, what kind would you be and why?” (Topdeck Travel)
  3.  “If you could have dinner with three actors that are no longer living, who would you pick?” (BlackBerry)
  4.  “How many hours would it take to clean every single window in London?” (IBM)
  5.  “How do you get an elephant in a fridge?” (Gemalto)
  6.   “If the time is quarter past 3, what is the angle measurement on the clock?” (Standard Bank Group)
  7.   “If you had three minutes alone in a lift with the CEO, what would you say?” (Network Rail)
  8.   “How many people born in 2013 were named Gary?” (BT)
  9.  “What will you be famous for?” (EY)
  10.  “How many diapers are purchased per year in the UK?” (Aviva Investors)

Most common interview questions

  • What are your strengths?
  • What are your weaknesses? (Don’t use the old “I’m a perfectionist” or “too detail-oriented” answer, Cook said. That gets boring.)
  • Why are you interested in working for [insert company name here]?
  • Where do you see yourself in five years? Ten years?
  • Why do you want to leave your current company?
  • Why was there a gap in your employment between [insert date] and [insert date]?
  • What can you offer us that someone else can not?
  • What are three things your former manager would like you to improve on?
  • Tell me about an accomplishment you are most proud of.
  • Tell me about a time you made a mistake.
  • What is your dream job?
  • Who are our competitors?
  • What was your biggest failure?
  • What motivates you?
  • Who’s your mentor?

More job interview tips

Cook recommends people think of possible stories to tell in advance, and write out questions to possible questions before the interview. Then study and practice them.

And don’t ever lie.

READ MORE: The worst things an applicant can do during a job interview

However you answer the questions, Cook believes the most important thing to get across is confidence and enthusiasm.

Be yourself, don’t stress and just think of it as a conversation, she suggests.

Always dress for the job, offer a firm handshake, be mindful of your body language, and ask a lot of questions (the latter is what should make up the majority of a job interview, according to some experts).

Even if you bomb some of the answers, you still have two shots to wow the interviewer:

“What people often forget,” Cook said, “is the first and last impressions are the lasting impressions.”

SOUND OFF: What would your answers be to the oddball interview questions? Share your responses in the comments section below.

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