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Dealing with Abstract Interview Questions

Dealing with Abstract Interview Questions

October 4, 2013
By Michael Jungbluth-Career Assistant

In many interviews, interviewers will throw a question at you that is so far off the beaten path that you do not know what to do with it.  I have dealt with many of these questions throughout interviews, with some great examples listed here. 1 - If this company was a car, what part of the car would you be?  2 - Who is your favorite superhero and why?  3 - If you won the lottery right now, what is the first thing you would do?  This blog will take a look at the best strategies for dealing with these type of questions.

There are multitudes of interview questions out there designed to come out of left field and take you completely by surprise.  Microsoft interviewers were the first to pioneer this type of interviewing, and still maintain it today as they believe it has given them great results.  These questions are not designed to make you feel unintelligent or inadequate, but simply to take you out of your rehearsed interviewing state and make you think on the spot.  The adaptability and openness that you must show to answer the question are very valuable in the vast majority of job settings, and even though the question may have nothing to do with the field you are going into, it may have everything to do with the type of person the company wants to hire.

The keys to dealing with these questions lie within the person you are prior to the interview.  You can prepare continuously for questions about your strengths and weaknesses, as you should, but those oddball, off the wall question cannot and should not be prepared for.  If you attempt to prepare for these questions your answers may still sound rehearsed and much like your previous answers, which is exactly the opposite of the point of these questions.

The main reasoning behind these questions can be broken down into two parts; the skills required to attain a high level of success in the position, and your fit in the company culture.  Thinking on your feet and reacting to unforeseen challenges are parts of almost every job, and this is the biggest challenge these questions pose.  Often times as well the company has a free spirited, fun-loving culture and they are looking for more individuals that fit that mold as they do, so these questions are very pertinent.  Getting caught off guard by these questions is not uncommon, so do not stress if you fall into that category.  Just know that answering truthfully and having fun with these questions can set you above and beyond other candidates.