Rochester NY Stake Employment Center

April 25, 2011

Star Wars or Star Trek? Questions you just might hear in the interview

Filed under: Interviewing — Larry @ 6:51 pm

As someone who doesn’t know a Klingon from a Jedi, I’ve watched in bewilderment as friends have debated which franchise is superior: “Star Wars” or “Star Trek.” Normally, I feign interest for a few minutes and then tune out when someone begins to imitate Yoda. The next time I’m in this situation, I might start taking notes instead.

Interviewers, tired of asking the same old questions again and again, are posing unique questions to job seekers. Some that seemingly have no right answer, and job seekers have reported being asked which they prefer, “Star Wars” or “Star Trek.” We’re not talking about the usual head scratchers or about jobs where this information is relevant, such as a comics store or special effects studio. No, organizations of all sizes and in a variety of industries are posing unusual questions to their interviewees.

Zappos.com, the online shoe seller known for its relaxed culture and quirky employees, has one of the more interesting applications you’re likely to see. According to Christa Foley, a recruiting manager for the company, you might be asked any of the following: If you were a superhero, who would you be and why? If every time you entered a room your theme song played, what would it be and why? On a scale of 1-10, how weird are you? Why did you choose that number? What was your best MacGyver moment? If you saw someone steal a quarter, would you report it? If not, what dollar amount would you report?

Unusual, right? Aside from the last question, which conceivably factors into your trustworthiness, the others are fun and allow you to be creative. These brain teasers are usually used so that employers can see how your mind works, but they also make you wonder if the employer is taking you seriously or just messing with you.

What to say
As a rule, you should approach unusual interview questions with the following mindset: Is it illegal or unethical? If so, feel free to stand up and walk out. (You don’t want to work for that kind of boss, do you?) Is there a right or wrong answer? What is my answer? Why? Why didn’t I choose the other options or answer differently?

What matters is that you answer the question and articulate your reasoning. You can’t predict how the interviewer will react, so the best you can do is answer confidently. If the interviewer cringes when you say “Star Wars” instead of “Star Trek” and shows you out of the interviewer room, you’re not to blame. Recently, we asked job seekers if they had experienced any unusual or flat-out weird interview questions. Here are some true-life questions job seekers have been asked while interviewing.

The creative
“I was once asked what I would bring if the department had a potluck.”
“If you were a professional wrestler, what would your stage name be?”

The bewildering
“I interviewed for a [job] waiting tables and the manager wanted to know how I would eat an ice cream cone.”
“If you had been on the Titanic would you have been in a row boat, on the ship, or freezing in the water? “

The illegal, unethical or potentially both
“So, are you married or whatever?”
“Kids you don’t have one of those, do you?”
“Have you ever used state assistance?”
“Do you attend church? What is your denomination?”

The tricky
“Are you gonna stay or just practicing for the next job?”
“What is a secret about you that no one knows?” – Daniel S.
“If we were in a party, which guy would I be, the shy guy sitting alone or rocking on the dance floor?”
“So if I were to go out and get a few drinks with your friends, what would they tell me about you?”

The amusing
“What is your favorite movie?”
“What’s the funniest Youtube video you have seen lately?”
“What wine do you drink? What is your favorite bouquet?”
“If you were a Disney character, what character would you be and why?”
“If a movie was made about your life, who would play you and why?”

What have we learned? First, employers shouldn’t be asking about an employee’s family planning, so that needs to stop. But we also learned that you can’t only prepare for the standard interview questions anymore. When you’re practicing your handshake and ironing your clothes the night before the interview, think about how you would react to these unexpected questions.

From MONROE COUNTY DHS Weekly Employment Bulletin – 28Feb2011

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