The big interview is going exactly the way you planned. You told them about school, your past work experience, your great credentials, and a little bit about yourself. You have everything under control. What they ask you next makes you go from thinking you’re walking away with the job to wondering if you’ll ever hear back from them again.
The interviewer has just given you a curveball question. These can be somewhat related to the job or they may have nothing to do with it and seem completely random. A tech company, for example, might ask you how you would figure out the fastest way to get from door to door if it was your job to deliver pizzas. The important thing for you to remember is that your response is what matters, not their question. It doesn’t make a difference what the question sounds like, whether they ask you to describe how cell phones work, if you ever been on a train, or how long you think a snake can crawl before it has to stop, the question is always asking one thing:
How well do you solve problems?
Interviewers don’t ask weird questions just to watch you squirm, they want to see how well you can handle and adapt to unexpected problems. What the interviewer wants from you is to give an answer that shows how well you can problem solve. It can take some improvising and some creative thought, but the answers you give will say more about you than you think
Here are some ways to handle a question you didn’t see coming.
1. Don’t panic. You are not just answering the question with your words. Think about your body language as well. If you have been calm throughout the whole interview, stay that way. Show that you take things in stride.
2. Look forward to the bizarre question they are going to ask. How you answer these brain teaser questions is a way for you to display your thinking power. This shouldn’t be a problem for you, so don’t sweat it. Use it as a chance to prove how creative you can be.
3. Don’t treat the question as a joke or give a hostile answer. You probably aren’t going to make an interviewer think you are serious about getting a job that way. Don’t come up with an answer that is going to damage your chances of being hired.
4. Think about the demands of the job and tailor your response so that it shows how your style of thinking can benefit the company. If the interview is for a tech job, think of ways you could use computers to answer the question.
5. Remember, the details aren’t important. If the question is asking you how you would tell someone how to construct a paper airplane, don’t worry if you don’t know how to make one yourself. Make that part of your solution to the problem.