We’ve all been there. You’re in an interview and you’re quietly confident that the hour you have spent being grilled about why you should get ‘the job’ has been a roaring success. You thank yourself for spending the past three evenings fully embracing JOMO (joy of missing out), interview prepping while your friends are out wining and dining in your favourite restaurant. That is until the unconventional hammer is thrown down and you are asked about how many loaves of bread are eaten in Thailand a day, if 22% of the current population are gluten free. You try to make logical sense of what’s being asked of you, attempting to smile and begin your answer without sounding like you have no idea what you’re talking about.
Sh*t. What’s the answer? Oh my god. I’ve never been to Thailand how the hell am I supposed to know this?!
Some of the most outrageous questions favoured by CEOs range from “What if you find out your boss is having an affair with a colleague?” to “What’s your spirit animal?” and even “You are trapped on a life raft with a nun, an old man and a baby. There is only room for three of you, and you must decide who you throw off the raft. Who do you choose any why?”. What do crazy interview questions prove? Why are they part of the interview process and should we panic when thrown a curveball that potentially derails our confidence when speaking to a potential employer?
Olivia Coughtrie Co-Founder of PA & Administrative Recruitment company Oriel Partners, says that she loves these types of questions and assures her candidates that there really is no right or wrong way to answer. She explains that interviewers do this to see how people react and to see how they respond under pressure, particularly when a candidate is at second stage of the interview process.
But what do these questions truly achieve and what is the motive behind the change in conversational direction?
Olivia says that the typical questions may have already been asked during the first round, so the questioning may be focused around getting to know the candidate’s personality, or delving deeper in to their analytical and creative skills. It can be hard to differentiate one candidate from another sometimes and so ‘out of the box’ questioning can be a valuable tool.
When asked about a common question that many Assistants report to have been asked – ‘why are manhole covers round?’ Olivia again stresses that there is no right or wrong answer and that the purpose of the conversation is to understand how articulate you are in your answer and the thought process behind it.
‘With regards the man hole, I have had this before and there are several answers I can think of which would act as a suitable response; they are heavy and so circular shapes can be rolled and most importantly, no matter how you angle a circle, it won’t fall through the hole unlike a square shape! However, ultimately the aim is to show you are not flustered and can think on the spot, as this is not a question you would have prepared for.’