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    9 Unexpected Questions You Might Be Asked At A Job Interview

    Looking for a new job this year? Bored of preparing for the same interview questions? Why not take a look at some of the more unusual things that you might not have expected to be asked in a job interview.

    Shini Baskar is a Jobcentre Plus work coach based in Sutton and she supports people into work every day. From CV tips to best places to find a job, Shini is using her experience to share her top tips on how to answer the more unusual interview questions - with Google being just one of the companies to prefer open ended questions, it might just be worth taking a look!

    1. Do you prefer cats or dogs ?


    What they mean to say is: What is kind of character are you?

    Shini says: Some people believe that there are certain personality attached to people who prefer dog’s verses those who prefer cats. Your answer should be based on the traits that apply to the job you are applying for.

    This a really good question to show an employer that you’re aware of your own personality traits and skills.

    For example, are you going into a long term project? If so, it might be good to explore how loyal you are, how you see long term tasks through and reassure your employer that you’re unlikely to leave half way through a job.

    You might be applying for a high energy sales job, if so, what can you bring? Your sharp sense of detail or ability to work quickly and with a great deal of energy. Which animal do you think might best reflect this?

    If you don’t think there is one, could you create something new by combining two different animals?

    There a few variations of this question - you might get asked more generally, if you were any animal, what would you chose to be? A good question to prepare for.

    2. How many balloons would fit in this room?

    unknown / Via Flickr: scalino

    What they mean to say is: How good are you at solving problems?

    Shini says: There’s no way of knowing how many balloons would fit in the room, but what the employer is interested in is how you approach this question. Do you start off by declaring that it is impossible? Or do you prefer to ask further questions – e.g. how big is the room?

    The purpose of the question is to find out how you approach large problems. It’s important to always be able to present a solution of some sort, and if you’re not sure, an educated guess will go further than no answer. Whether you break the question into small chunks, identity assumptions or use your general knowledge, sharing how you’d go about solving the problem is important here.

    3. If you could be any superhero, which one would you be?

    Via Flickr: thenickster

    What they mean to say is: Will you fit in with the team?

    Shini says: This question is designed to be humorous, so think of a witty answer and try to relate it to the role you’re going for.

    The interviewer wants to find out a bit more about your personality as well as your ability to think on your feet, both quickly and creatively. Batman, Superman, Wonder Woman are all fine answers but remember, the interviewer wants to hear why you’ve chosen these characters.

    If you don’t have a favourite superhero or don’t know of any – make your own up! As long as you’re able to justify why, this question is really testing your creativity and moving away from rehearsed answers that people give to standard questions.

    You have the opportunity to inject some humour into the interview here – feel free to do it.

    Similar questions might include - if you were a superhero, what power would you want to have?

    4. Before going on holiday, when do you look to pack your case?


    What they mean to say is: How organised are you?

    Shini says: Are you someone that likes to plan ahead or do you prefer to leave it to the very last minute? Be honest and justify your approach.

    If you like to do your packing last minute, why is that? Is it because you organise your belongings meaning that packing doesn’t need to happen until the day before?

    Or do you like to make sure that you don’t pack things that you’ll need on a day to day basis? Being able to justify your response is crucial here, as is practicality.

    5. How would you react if you were transformed into a fish?

    Via Flickr: rogersmj

    What they mean to say is: Can you think on your feet?

    Shini says: This question is designed to show how you deal with unexpected questions and situations. It’ll test how quickly and calmly you react.

    Would you want to turn back into a human as soon as possible? Or would you try to adapt your new situation? Would you seek to make friends or would you prefer to find your own way round?

    Your answer will give the interviewer an idea of how you like to work best, whether it’s within a team or alone, you need to be able to think quickly and come up with a response.

    Think about how you normally respond to unexpected situations.

    6. If you were an ice cream, what flavour would you be?


    What they mean to say is: What kind of personality do you have?

    Shini says: These types of ‘what kind of flavour/tree/book would you be’ questions can be difficult to answer and again, the answer is designed to give the interviewer a bit more of an insight into your personality.

    The question can often throw people but there’s no harm in asking for a moment, just to think.

    Think about three key qualities that you’d need to have for the role that you’re going for and apply those to the flavour. For example, you might be vanilla, as it’s a firm and traditional favourite, it suggests loyalty, which is something needed for a long term project. You might be chocolate chip, as it provides a twist on a traditional flavour, so whilst you work with the basics, you’re innovative and don’t accept things as they are.

    Remember – if no one flavour represents you, you can always mix them up and create your own.

    7. Name five uses for a stapler without staples


    What they mean to say is: How creative are you and can you think outside of the box?

    Shini says: Try to think of an answer that the interviewer may not have heard before, it’ll help you stand out from the other candidates.

    Whether you chose to use the stapler as a hammer, a paper weight, or even some office-based castanets, this question is all about how innovative you can be. You want to show how you can think out of the box and deal with change effectively.

    When things don’t work out, what do you look to do instead?

    This question can really give you the opportunity to use your imagination and your answer can be absolutely anything. Bonus points for practicality but don’t let this stop you!

    Similar questions may include - name as many uses for a brick in a minute.

    8. How would you describe making an omelette to someone who has never made one before?

    Flickr: eschipul

    What they really mean to say is: How good are your communication skills?

    Shini says: Employers want to know how well you can communicate and summarise simple tasks, especially to someone who may be unfamiliar with the subject.

    Try to explain your answer in an interesting, simple and useful way.

    Do you break it down into easy numbered steps, do you just talk them through it, or do you start cracking some eggs open and showing them what to do. Whatever you choose, it’ll show how you prefer to communicate with people.

    Be aware of how this reflects on the job that you’re applying for. If you’re looking to undertake a role which involves a lot of face to face contact with clients or customers, you not only need to be clear in explaining the task but you need to show that you’re also able to do so comfortably with people.

    9. If aliens landed and said you could have any job on their planet, what would you choose?

    Via Flickr: hjmediastudios

    What they really mean to say is: What are your professional goals?

    Shini says: When answering focus on the job you could imagine yourself performing, it doesn’t have to be what you’re doing now. Be ambitious.

    An interviewer wants to see someone with drive and ambition. Don’t be afraid to be passionate.

    While, it might not seem too achievable to want to manage the planet within the first few hours of landing, there’s nothing to stop you from achieving this in the long term.

    But how do you plan to do this? By getting to know the existing aliens and building up an existing skill base – an answer like this shows that you’re thinking about the long term and whilst also being aware of what is needed in the short term to achieve your goals.

    Shini says: Whilst there's no one rule to answering all the questions above. The key thing to remember is that there are no right or wrong answers and creativity is king. Tap into your imagination to think about answers that an employer might not have heard before. Prepare a few unusual example answers so that you're ready to tackle the unexpected.

    Want more information?

    For more help and advice on job interview preparation (and questions that can be expected), Jobcentre Plus coaches are on hand to provide one to one help.

    Find out about the support you can get moving from benefits to work:

    You can also speak to a work coach at your local Jobcentre for advice:

    If you're keen to avoid the interview process and thinking of starting your own business, you may be eligible for help from New Enterprise Allowance if you're receiving certain benefits:

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