Between researching the company, finding the perfect outfit that makes you look the part, and preparing questions of your own to ask, job interviews require a lot of preparation.
Yet there’s one thing that most job interviewees don’t prepare for:
Here are five tips that can help you field curveball questions and make it clear that you’re the ideal candidate for the job.
Why Do Interviewers Ask Curveball Questions?
Curveball questions are typically unrelated to your job experience, your background, or the job you’re interviewing for. A curveball question can be something like:
- If you were a tree/fruit/animal, what type would you be?
- If you were a superhero, what would your superpower be?
- Why are manhole covers round?
- How many pennies can fit in this room?
Interviewers ask these types of questions to see how you respond when you’re caught off guard. This tactic forces you to give an unrehearsed answer, so it’s also a way to see if you can problem solve in a challenging situation.
Tip 1: Keep Calm (and Answer the Question)
No matter how odd the question may be, don’t let it rattle you. Instead, keep calm.
Take a deep breath, think about an answer, and respond like you would to any other question. Remaining calm and collected during a curveball question demonstrates to the employer that you can perform well in stressful situations.
Tip 2: Take a Slight Pause if Need Be
If your initial reaction to the question is “that’s an interesting question, let me think about that for a moment”, say so. This is a logical and honest response, and it buys you a few moments of time to think of an answer.
This response also indicates that you’re thoughtful, which is a great quality to demonstrate if you’re interviewing for a job where you’ll need to interact with clients. Taking a pause to think of the right response is an indication that you would never give a client a rash response without thinking it through first.
Tip 3: Know That the Answer Doesn’t Matter
The specific answer you give to a curveball question doesn’t matter nearly as much as how you field the question. What they’re actually looking at is your demeanor, if you remain calm or get rattled, and if you deliver a response that you can back up with some solid logic and reasoning.
Tip 4: Reason Out Loud
No matter what type of answer you give to a curveball question, you’ll have to explain your reasoning for choosing that answer. For example, if you’re asked what kind of superpower you want to have and you say invisibility, don’t expect that to be the end of the conversation. The inevitable follow up question will be why?
One way to impress a potential employer with your answer to a curveball question is to reason through your answer not just in your head, but out loud. This is a way to demonstrate your thought processes and show that you have solid problem-solving skills.
Tip 5: Practice Before Your Interview
The best way to perfect the art of answering curveball questions is to practice. Ask a trusted friend or colleague to ask you some odd, ridiculous questions and practice answering them in a personable yet professional way that shows you’re equipped to do the job.
In addition to oddball questions unrelated to the job at hand, interviewers may also ask questions that are job-related but unexpected. Practice answering these types of questions as well.
For example, if they ask you if you can sign an employment contract today and start tomorrow, be prepared to say “no, I need to give notice at my current job” or “no, I need an attorney to review the contract before I can sign it.”
Contracts are legally binding agreements, and you should always hire a lawyer to perform a contract review before signing it. To learn more about the importance of contract review, checkout this article from Physicians Thrive.
Curveball questions are ones that you don’t expect, but if you prepare for them ahead of time, you won’t be caught off guard at all.
So think about what type of super power you want to have, what type of vegetable or animal you’d like to be, and Google why manhole covers are round (there is a rather simple reason as to why).
There’s no way to know what type of curveball question your interviewer might ask, but just knowing that one might be coming your way can help you ace the interview and land the job.