Job interviews are pretty stressful experiences. You’re locked up in a room with a complete stranger while they size you up, trying to determine whether or not they want you based on what’s on a sheet of paper. Some people are really comfortable with them and others are nervous wrecks. Regardless of how you feel about them they’re necessary stepping-stones in everyone’s lives. But what happens when an interviewer asks something out of left field?
Some people prepare vigorously before an interview, others not so much and some just go in head first. But no amount of preparation could’ve prepared applicants for some of the questions on this list. It’s weird to think companies would judge potential employees based on these head scratchers, but they did. They range from completely irrelevant to needlessly complicated and are bound to baffle even the most confident job applicant.
These are the 15 weirdest questions ever asked in real job interviews.
15. “If you woke up and had 2,000 unread emails and could only answer 300 of them, how would you choose which ones to answer?”
That’s a lot of spam. The question asked by Dropbox was meant to test potential candidates on what they’d prioritize in certain situations. The popular file hosting service company created a rather stressful scenario that isn’t too different from what the average person has to deal with every day. Though the number of emails might be enough to drive someone to rip out their hair, employers were looking for people who had the brains to siphon through the mess, based on the emails’ subject lines.
14. “Who’s your favorite Disney Princess?”
This question was asked during an interview for a position at a Cold Stone Creamery ice cream shop. While the question itself seems like random small talk, there’s a reason behind it and it’s not creepy at all. It’s meant to show the candidate’s personality. By finding out about who candidates could relate to – in this case Disney Princesses – employers felt they’d get a solid idea for what kind of a worker they’d get. So a hardworking, determined character like Cinderella would fare better than a naïve ditz like Snow White.
13. “What would you do if you were the one survivor in a plane crash?”
Or “What would you have done if you were on Lost?” The question was asked by travel website Airbnb regarding their safety inspector position. Surviving a horrible plane crash is pretty impressive in its own right, but you know what’s even more remarkable? Planning ahead! Yup, the reason candidates were put into this terrifying scenario was to test their ability to handle emergencies and find helpful resources. Ignore this terrifying life-altering event, you’ve got a job to do!
12. “How many traffic lights are there in Canada?”
This is kind of similar to asking someone to guess how many jellybeans there are in a jar. The people at Bell Canada thought this would be a solid stepping-stone for anyone applying to their Leadership Development Program. It seems like an ill thought-out guessing game and might very well have been just that to the poor confused souls applying for the position. So what was Bell looking for? Apparently they were looking for people who could come up with formulas to figure this out. That’s right; math. Nobody likes math.
11. “If you were asked to unload a 747 full of jellybeans, what would you do?”
Speaking of ridiculous jellybean-related questions, here’s an original spin on a classic scenario. The good people at Bose coined this head-scratcher to seemingly confuse and frustrate anyone applying for their IT support manager position. This is another example of companies wanting to test out potential employees’ problem solving skills. In this case it’s in relation to their skills as a project manager. Why they opted for a 747 filled with sugary goodness instead of an actual work-related scenario is anyone’s guess.
10. “How will you keep HootSuite weird?”
Yes, how will you keep HootSuite weird? It’s the question that keeps eating people up at night. But first ask yourself, just what the hell is HootSuite? Well, it’s described as a “social relationship platform,” which means that they manage a lot of different businesses’ social media accounts. As for the issue of keeping it weird, it seems like they’re trying a little too hard to be the laid-back, cool boss everyone wants to work for.
9. “What’s your favorite ’90s jam?”
Some of these questions seem more likely to have been asked at the beginning of a budding friendship than a serious job interview. Who knows, maybe these interviews weren’t all too serious to begin with. Squarespace, a website builder and hosting service asked the question to find candidates’ positive qualities. Naturally it doesn’t require a long answer, but the fact that a company thinks they can assess a person’s character based on what kind of music they like seems pretty harsh. Unless they answered “Mmmbop,” then they’re automatically dismissed.
8. “What did you have for breakfast?”
Again, this seems like silly small talk between friends. The question – asked in a Banana Republic interview – is meant to see whether or not the applicant is friendly and upbeat. The candidates were interviewing for a sales associate job, so it’s perfectly rational for the company to want sociable people selling their products. But how excited can someone get over their breakfast? Some people skip it altogether. And what’s a natural way to segue from that to something else in an interview?
7. “If you were an inanimate object, what would you be?”
This one was asked during a Starbucks interview. Not only does this come across as completely ridiculous but it also has nothing to do with making coffee. Imagine going to an interview and having this one come at you out of left field. Maybe it was asked to intentionally throw applicants off, maybe the interviewer was really stoned, but who cares about some guy’s childhood dream of turning into a dirt bike? Can he make you a cup of coffee?
6. “If you had a machine that produced $100 dollars a day for life, what would you be willing to pay for it today?”
This would’ve been everyone’s dream come true if it was free, but that would’ve been too easy. The people at Aksia came up with this one to test out potential research analyst’s analytic skills. It’s another problem solving question that seems irrelevant out of context. Coming up with a reasonable price to pay for the machine as well as factoring in the risks of owning such a miraculous piece of machinery – such as unwanted attention from scary men in ski masks – would’ve gotten applicants brownie points.
5. “How can we move Mount Fuji?”
A whole lot of napalm, that’s how. But in all seriousness – if you can take this question seriously – what would it take to move a mountain? Canadian phone Service Company TELUS asked interviewees that very question, and probably confused the hell out of them. It just can’t be done. Of course this is all theoretical, probably trying to see how good the candidate works in a team and all that garbage. Some of the questions on this list are pretty out there; it’d be interesting to hear people’s responses to them. There’s a good chance more than a few of them started out with “what?”
4. “What would you name a book about your life at this point?”
“How Did I End Up Here?” sounds like a good one if you were sitting in this interview. The question was asked by PRISM Resources, a company designed to help Business and Economic Wilfrid Laurier University Students with their technological needs. Now, there might be a perfectly good reason as to why a company is asking potential employees such ridiculous noise. Could be that this type of question gives employers a look into someone’s character. Could be they were bored. Though if it’s the former, it does sort of make sense seeing as one of the key points of a job interview is to see what kind of a person you are.
3. “How many people flew out of Chicago last year?”
Okay, so this doesn’t seem too strange once it gets put into context. The question was asked by Redbox concerning a software engineer vacancy. An important part of being one of those is having the ability to solve problems on the go. Now, employers weren’t expecting candidates to get the right answer, given they had virtually no other information to go on. But showing that they could take into account different factors affecting airline travel showed they had at least some of the skills necessary to qualify for the job.
2. “Who would win in a fight between Spider-Man and Batman?”
Stanford University has instantly become a fun place to work at. There are probably hundreds of forums online debating this very crossover. But this question wasn’t asked so hardcore fanboys would get into flame wars or slap fights or whatever it is they do when they disagree on these things. Actually it was designed so that the applicant would ask for more information, prompting them to make an educated guess based on what they’d been given. FYI, Batman has outsmarted Superman on more than one occasion. So if this were to happen, things wouldn’t be looking too great for Spidey.
1. “Describe the color yellow to somebody who’s blind”
This one – asked by Spirit Airlines – is aimed towards people’s sensitivity when getting information. Flight attendants are responsible for the well-being of passengers as well as making sure they enjoy their flight. So it’s wise to filter out the insensitive douchebags early on in the selection process. In regards to the question, the applicant could’ve responded by asking whether the person was partially or fully blind as well as finding out how long they’ve been blind for. Again, this should be handled with some tact as you’re dealing with a sensitive issue.