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12 of the most unusual interview questions

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A popular job vacancy is bound to receive an overwhelming amount of resumés. Although surely impressive, most CVs will look frustratingly similar. The solution to that problem? A bunch of really weird interview questions.

More businesses have started to introduce unusual questions as part of their candidate selection process. The job advice industry is so prolific that candidates can research and prepare for standard questions in advance, but creative questions can assess whether the candidate is thinking on their feet.

To give you a little inspiration for your next applicant’s interview, here are some unusual questions from famous companies.

1. Apple

“There are three boxes. One contains only apples, one contains only oranges, and one contains both apples and oranges. The boxes have been incorrectly labeled such that no label identifies the actual contents of the box it labels. Opening just one box, and without looking in the box, you take out one piece of fruit. By looking at the fruit, how can you immediately label all of the boxes correctly?”

2. Amazon

“Jeff Bezos walks into your office and says you can have a million dollars to launch your best entrepreneurial idea. What is it?”

3. Dell

“What song best describes your work ethic?”

4. Facebook

“Given the numbers one to 1,000, what is the minimum number of guesses needed to find a specific number if you are given the hint ‘higher’ or ‘lower’ for each guess you make?”

5. Forrester Research

“If you were to get rid of one state in the US, which would it be and why?”

6. Google

“How many cows are in Canada?”

7. HP

“If Germans were the tallest people in the world, how would you prove it?” 

8. IBM

“How do you weigh an elephant without using a weigh machine?”

9. Marriot

“How would you rate your memory?”

10. MasterCard

“Can you say ’Peter pepper picked a pickled pepper’ and cross-sell a washing machine at the same time?”

11. Urban Outfitters

“Pick two celebrities to be your parents.”

So, what happens when the interviewer doesn’t stick to those fundamental questions the applicant has rehearsed?

There’s no cookie-cut way to prepare in advance for any job interview, let alone exactly which whacky questions the interviewers have in mind. An applicant should memorise everything about their own background; this will help with the fundamentals, and also when an unusual questions pop up – what kind of dog are you, for example.

Some advice for the interviewee: you don’t need to provide rapid-fire responses – as long as you don’t leave the interviewer waiting with a massive pause after he/she asked the question. Take a deep breath and answer the question as honestly and as best to your ability as you can.

Keep in mind that there are, more often than not, no right or wrong answers. Just cross your fingers and hope your interview starts and ends with one sole unique question:

12. Acosta

“Just entertain me for five minutes, I’m not going to talk.” 

Related: Hiring T-rexes and not humans: are bizarre interview questions totally useless?

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