9 Unique Interview Questions Corporate America Can Ask

Original Date: September 17, 2018

We all have stories from our past interviewing experiences in which companies have asked unique, weird, ridiculous and challenging interview questions.  In my career, I have had the opportunity to interview with great companies and have been asked some of these unique, weird, ridiculous and challenging questions.  In fact, there were times I could not answer certain questions.  Preparing for every interview question is impossible.  However, the more we prepare and know, the more confident we will become.  This is also true for the interviewer.

Below are the 9 unique interview questions:

  1. How many tennis balls can you fit into a limousine? (Monitor Group): This is a logic question and one that will throw many of us during an interview.  Think about cubic space in the limo and work backwards.  Guessing an answer will more than likely generate a response from the interviewer, how did you come up with that number?  Be prepared to answer with logic.  Sit in silence and think through a response.
  1. How much should you charge to wash all the windows in Montana? (Google): Designed to see how applicants think on their feet and react to under pressure during the interview. Work through the answer out loud and show the interviewer you can think on your feet.  There isn’t enough information and time to come up with the correct answer.  Be creative and confident in your reasoning and response.
  1. Explain the internet to an 8-year old in 3 sentences? (Microsoft): “What? Use your first sentence to establish a basic premise: “The Internet is a series of tubes.  How? Your second sentence can describe the first: “The tubes connect information that is stored on computers throughout the world.  Why? Finally, close by summing up the purpose of the Internet: “It helps people to access global information quickly and easily.”[i]
  1. How would you solve problems if you from Mars (Amazon): Another question requiring us to think outside the box. Be creative and answer questions like this with confidence and logic.  If you use this question, know there is not a right or wrong answer.
  1. How would you find the words that became obsolete in English language between 16th and 17th century? (Uber): Using a dictionary probably wouldn’t work well as an answer to this question. What about a search engine?  Utilize resources.   
  1. What do you think of garden gnomes? (Trader Joe’s): This question is more than likely meant to confuse the applicant from the generic interview questions, geared to see how you respond to one of those weird questions. Take a breath and answer the question with something that makes sense.  This is not a question I would use during an interview.
  1. If you were a pizza delivery man, how would you benefit from scissors? (Apple): Another question requiring a creative response. This is designed to stress an applicant out and see if you can think on your feet or in your chair.
  1. How would you test an elevator? (Microsoft): This is an analysis and creativity question, think through your answer before you respond. Always be prepared to sit in silence before answer the question.  Silence can be golden and a problem during an interview.
  1. How does the devaluation of the dollar impact our trade? (Rolls Royce): I have to admit, this question was asked to me during an internship interview in graduate school in 2010. As an HR grad student, I was confidently rolling through my overprepared answers to the standard questions and the interviewer asked this.  It caught me totally off-guard and I could not respond with a business savvy answer.  In fact, I asked to come back to this question later in the interview, we never came back to this question during the interview.  Think about tariffs, suppliers and logistics.  Those answers will work for a question such as this.  Don’t be like me!
  1. Bonus question: Tell me about a time you failed? (My favorite question): This is the question I ask to every applicant. I’m not looking for a time you failed, I’m looking for the failure, and the lesson learned, what you did differently, how you improved and what you might have done differently prior to failing.  Situation, Action and Results.  Answer the entire question in detail, we’ve all failed.  “I’ve never failed.”  This answer is the worst one you can possibly give.

– Matthew Burr, HR Consultant

[i] https://www.themuse.com/advice/4-insanely-tough-interview-questions-and-how-to-nail-them

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