Interviews are up there with the most nerve-wracking things to put yourself through, you’re essentially putting yourself in front of people to be judged on your personality, as well as how good you are professionally.
But what’s worse than the standard interview is when potential employers throw out a weird question that seems like it’s just there to catch you out.
Glassdoor have analysed hundreds of thousands of reviews which have been left for some of the world’s biggest companies to find out what the trickiest ones were and enlisted an expert to give tips on how to answer them.
The main thing to remember is if you can’t think of anything straight away – keep calm and take your time. Interviewers often just like to see how you handle pressure. See the answers to the ones in bold below, as kindly revealed by Jo Cresswell, a careers expert at Glassdoor.
- Tell us two truths and a lie. Asked at a Holiday Sales Associate interview at AllSaints Retail
- If you could have a superpower, what would it be and why? Asked at Hospitality Team Member interview at Compass Group
- What one thing would you take to the moon? Asked at a Home & Leisure Colleague interview at ASDA
- Should you choose to jump from an aeroplane or climb a mountain? Explain why? Asked at a Warehouse interview at AO
- If you won £10 million, what would you do with it? Asked at a Finance Graduate Interview at Camelot
- If you had £50,000 to start up a new company where would you put the money and why? Asked at a Graduate interview at Admiral Group
- How many windows do you think there are in London? Asked at a Data & Analytics Assistant interview at Association of British Insurers
- How many taxis are there in Oxford? Derive your answer mathematically, not anecdotally. Asked at a Research & Publications interview at Aurora Energy Research
- Is a Jaffa Cake a cake or a biscuit? Asked at a Workshop Engineer interview at Barron McCann
- Estimate the annual revenue of an outdoor swimming pool. Asked at a Graduate Consultant interview at Bain & Company
“Hahahagivemethejobhaha.” Credit: Pexels
What one thing would you take to the moon?
Depending on the role you’re going for, you need to consider what you want to convey in your answer. Do you want to come across as practical, sentimental or something else? For practical answers, consider items such as moon boots, an oxygen mask/tank or first aid kit for survival. For sentimental answers, consider items such as your favourite book, photo of your loved ones or a diary to capture your experience. You’ll want to have an item in mind and a reason as to why you’d take it to the moon. Make it relevant to the role you’re interviewing for, but ensure you remain authentic to yourself.
If you won £10 million, what would you do with it?
This type of question is a great way to convey your passions and interests, both personal and philanthropic. If you’re a keen artist, perhaps you’d want to take a career break and travel the world painting landscape pictures. If you have a particular love of animals, maybe you’d donate a large sum of money to an animal charity or visit and volunteer at an animal sanctuary. Aim to get across your personal values which may not otherwise come up in traditional interviews; areas which highlight great character traits that would make you a good fit for the role. Be sure to make it relevant to the workplace though – how do those values and passions make you a better employee or manager? How do you live your values every day in your interactions with other people?
What you don’t want to say in response to this question is that you’d quit your job immediately and move to the other side of the world!
If you had £50,000 to start up a new company where would you put the money and why?
First up, prepare yourself with an idea of what new company you would want to start; what industry and what problem you’d be looking to solve or value you’d be looking to add. Demonstrate your business acumen by acknowledging the priority areas in which investment needs to be made when starting a business. You might want to consider overheads such as office space, equipment such as computers, costs of any product development or marketing requirements, etc.. This doesn’t need to be a complete scientific answer, but you will need to demonstrate an adequate level of business awareness and be prepared to respond to any follow-up questions.
Again, this could be a good way to demonstrate your values – for example, would your company’s mission be related to a social or environmental cause that you feel passionate about? Would your new enterprise be designed to help a certain segment of the population? How does it relate to your current career path?
Is a Jaffa Cake a cake or a biscuit?
An age old debate, be prepared to offer detailed reasoning behind your answer. For example, if arguing that a Jaffa Cake is a cake, you might want to mention its sponge base and the fact it goes hard when stale, as opposed to biscuits that go soft. If arguing that it’s a biscuit, you might want to mention that Jaffa Cakes are stocked alongside other biscuits in shops and the fact they’re packaged in packets.
In addition, while this type of answer will help demonstrate your logic, this question is a great opportunity to show off your general knowledge by explaining that a court in 1991 ruled Jaffa Cakes to be cakes and therefore be exempt from VAT.
Should you choose to jump from an aeroplane or climb a mountain?
The answer to this really depends on the role you’re applying to. If it’s a role requiring a lot of quick thinking and perhaps risk taking, you might say ‘jump from an aeroplane’. If it’s a role in which you’d be expected to spend a lot of time problem solving, analysing and persevering at tasks, then ‘climb a mountain’ may well be your best response. Make sure you explain your rationale in your answer