What if the Interview Questions Have Nothing to Do With the Job?

Nancy Anderson
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A great resume might help you land a job interview, but employers need to know about the personal attributes you possess to determine if you're a good fit for the position and company. To gain this information, they might ask questions that have nothing to do with the job but help give them insight into your overall personality and character. Here are some examples of off-topic questions you might hear during a job interview.

1. How Are You Most or Least Like Your Parents?

Your answer to this job interview question lets hiring managers know which traits you consider to be your greatest strengths and gives insight into your personality. It's best to answer this question by naming positive traits. For example, you can say "My mom is the most dedicated, trustworthy and loyal person I know, and I'm lucky enough to possess these qualities." You can also put a positive spin on negative traits. For example, you can say "My parents often made promises they didn't keep, which frustrated me greatly. Because of this, I am a man of my word and never back out of a commitment." These answers communicate to employers that you possess qualities that would make you a great asset to any team.

2. How Would You Make Money With an Ice Cream Stand in Central Park?

Your answer to this off-topic job interview question helps hiring managers determine your levels of ingenuity and creativity. Hiring managers want to know if you have the ability to think on your feet and if you're capable of dealing with challenging situations. They also want to know if you have the ability to close a sale; after all, all companies need to make a profit. When providing a response to this question, describe what would you do to attract customers, how would you make the sale and how would you ensure a satisfying experience for buyers.

3. Who Is Your Favorite Superhero and Why?

Superheroes have very specific personal traits and skills. Your answer to this job interview question lets employers know which skills and traits you most admire. If you admire extreme passion, high intelligence and unwavering morals, you might choose Batman. If you admire a strong-willed woman who never backs down from a challenge, you might choose Wonder Woman. Whoever you choose, make sure you link your personal traits to the superhero's traits in some way in your response to this job interview question.

4. What Will Be Written on Your Tombstone?

This question might seem a little grim, but your answer lets employers know what you believe others think of you. Instead of providing a general answer, such as "wife, mother and friend," provide an answer that includes important career-related traits, such as "dedicated wife, devoted mother and loyal friend."

Job interview questions that might seem out of place definitely have an important purpose. Top-level job skills and great work experiences are impressive, but it's usually an interviewee's personal traits and overall personality that wins over employers.

Photo courtesy of David Castillo Dominici at FreeDigitalPhotos.net


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  • Nancy Anderson
    Nancy Anderson

    @Richard Turner thanks for your comment. Yes, probably true that it's pointless. Many of the interview questions are pointless but they are asked and the interviewer bases his judgment on the responses. Maybe not so much the verbal response as the physical one; to see how you would react when something out of the ordinary is thrown your way.

  • Richard Turner
    Richard Turner

    I can't think of a more pointless question to ask someone who's there to exchange information about their suitability for a job. What kind of tree you would be? These are the sort of questions that are a colossal waste of the candidate's interview time.

  • Nancy Anderson
    Nancy Anderson

    @Keonda Schenck thanks for your comment. They are kind of fun actually. Better than the standard Q&A that is usually asked. However, these questions could send some interviewees running. These candidates have prepped for the interview. They know the answers to the most common interview questions and are ready to go and then they get hit with "What will be written on your tombstome" and it throws them totally off. So these questions will not work with everyone but they are fun to think about. So, if you were a tree, what kind of tree would you be and why?

  • Keonda Schenck
    Keonda Schenck

    I actually like these questions better than the ones employers currently use. These questions allow the interviewee to open up and share some real experiences. The questions are fun and allow the interviewer to gauge how the candidate responds to different situations or how they view themselves. Speaks a lot to the character of individuals.

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