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Asked by Ed on November 18, 2014

I had an interview yesterday that didn't go so well. There just didn't seem to be a connection and the interviewer was very disinterested from the start. She did ask me a very odd question though - if animals took over the world, what would they do first? Do you ever ask weird questions during an interview? If so, what kind of questions? Also, why do you ask questions like this?

Answered by John, Hiring Expert at DuPont, on November 18, 2014

Interesting experience you had.

Most employers use behavior based interviews, which rely mainly on questions that allow you to share specific experiences demonstrating competencies that fit the position.  There are times when interviewers ask different types of questions for various reasons.   One set of questions is forward focused, the "where do you see yourself in five years" is an example. While not behavioral, this question and those like it help determine a potential fit with the employer.  Are your career aspirations in line with what the employer can reasonably provide?

Occasionally, employers ask more "out of the box" questions like the one you experienced.  Possible reasons for asking questions like this are (1) to learn how you go about dissecting a problem/issue in order to resolve it, (2) to assess your creativity, or (3) to see how you adapt to an awkward or unique situation.   

I hope this provides a possible explanation for your recent interview experience. 

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Answered by Dana, Hiring Expert at ManpowerGroup, on November 20, 2014

That is certainly an unorthodox interview question, and I would love to know what you said! How fascinating.

I’ve heard of recruiters and hiring managers using verbiage like this during interviews, but it isn’t something I’ve done, or something I’ve been asked to do in my own career. I know there are lists of such questions available online (Google this topic, if you’re curious), so the practice does exist in both large and small organizations nationwide.

Several well-known companies have actually been cited as using offbeat icebreakers, as well as “trick” questions, logic problems, puzzles, games, and even role-playing activities during the candidate screening process!

I agree with the other respondent who stated these sorts of interview questions are likely intended to push a candidate out of their comfort zone, by getting them to think on the spot and be imaginative under pressure. I suppose they may also be used to gauge a candidate’s reaction to an unusual request, and see how they handle unexpected stress.

But on the whole, I would guess this sort of experience in interviewing is still relatively rare, and many companies stick to tried and true behavior-based interview questions (BBIs). 

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Answered by Steve, Hiring Expert at Caterpillar Inc., on November 21, 2014

This situation seems to be the exception versus the rule.  I am guessing that that interviewer already had a top candidate at that point and did not handle your interview in a professional manner.  Odd questions like this are typically not asked, but if they are, it is usually a gauge of either your creativity or your ability to think quickly on your feet.  Most interview questions are behavioral based - using your past actions to predict your fuure behavior.

This does bring up a key point about the interview process - building a rapport with the interviewer.  This is important, but difficult, because your time to do so is usually limited.  That is why from the moment the interviewer intorduces themself, you should focus on trying to quickly establish a connection with them.  Often times this is accomplished by identifying a common connection - school, fraternity/sorority, military service, etc.  A good tip is to find out the name of your interviewer(s) ahead of time and research them on LinkedIn to find out a little bit about their background.  

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