We’ve all been there. I’ve been there several times, actually. Sweating bullets in my Sunday’s best while being stared at mercilessly after a barrage of strange questions in an interview. One good thing is, due to the frequency of these odd professional mishaps, I’ve gotten better about fixing my facial expressions, but my voice could use some work. While most of the time interviews are as typical as vanilla ice cream, here’s help for those desperate times you find yourself in the atypical interview.
Prepare for the worst. You already know to research the company, look at the website and know who’ll be interviewing you. Those are for normal situations. But when an odd interview is about to go down, knowing all that is pretty pointless. Be ready to answer the big, lazy “Tell us about yourself,” as well as the head-scratching “What kind of work experience do you have?” I still grimace when hiring managers show they didn’t read over my resume before entering the interview.
Shrug off cheap shots. I once went on an interview with a high-paying company in which I was asked what kind of car I drove. It was irrelevant to the job, so I hoped a better question followed. I wasn’t so lucky. After talking positively about my past work experiences related to the job, one hiring manager gave me a look of polite disgust. “You seem to be your favorite subject.” Ouch. Even though I found a great way to answer the question, there was no coming back from that one in his eyes. The rest of the interview was a courteous waste of time.
No ambition allowed. Once, my husband didn’t get a job he was qualified for and had excellent references within the company. The culprit turned out to be that he was too ambitious. In the interview, one of the hiring managers had asked, “How would you feel if you were still doing this same job in five years?” He eagerly responded that he would put in the work needed to grow with the company. That’s better than any Miss America answer, but they frowned at him. His desire to grow within the company was seen as a liability rather than a virtue. So, find out if you’re actually applying to a dead end job in sheep’s clothing and whether you would need to be happily complacent in five years.
It seems odd interview questions are a part of the beast that is getting hired now. So, if you turn out to be the victim of an interview with Captain Hook from Never-Never-Land, check the ticking watch on your wrist. He’ll get the hint.