If you were a box of cereal, what would you be and why?
Before you get lost fantasizing about your swashbuckling adventures as Cap’n Crunch, you should know that there’s a lot riding on the answer – or there could be if you were applying for a job at Bed, Bath & Beyond. That Barbara Walters caliber question about breakfast foods was actually lobbed at an applicant as part of an interview for a sales associate position at the home goods retailer, according to careers website Glassdoor.
The site on Friday released its annual list of the top 25 oddball interview questions, and this year’s roundup includes some real doozies: Do you believe in Bigfoot? Why is a tennis ball fuzzy? If you were a pizza deliveryman how would you benefit from scissors?
The most common questions, according to Glassdoor, are still the basic ones that any interviewee should know to expect: What are your strengths? What are your weaknesses? Why do you want to work for this company? But the quirkier or more bizarre questions keep popping up as hiring managers look to get a read on candidates’ thought processes or analytical skills.
It isn’t just tech companies or Wall Street firms asking, either. Applebee’s, Norwegian Cruise Line and Urban Outfitters made Glassdoor’s list alongside Apple, Goldman Sachs and Yahoo. That’s even after Google’s senior vice president of people operations, Laszlo Bock, told The New York Times last year that such brainteasers “are a complete waste of time” and “serve primarily to make the interviewer feel smart.” (What works better, Bock and others say, are behavioral questions – “Tell me about a time when…” – that require candidates to speak about their actual experiences rather than dealing in hypotheticals.)
That brings us back to Glassdoor’s list of peculiar questions and another screwball that might seem of limited use but actually got asked: What is your least favorite thing about humanity? As much as it might feel like the obvious answer at the moment, “stupid brainteaser questions” won’t help you land the job. Instead, you should collect yourself before you reel off an answer. “With each question, get your bearings and ask yourself: How might this question relate to the job at hand?” Glassdoor’s Jacqui Barrett-Poindexter advises.
Ask for clarification if you need it and then walk the interviewer through your thought process in coming up with a response. “Remember, there is no right answer,” Barrett-Poindexter notes. “Interviewers are looking for how you think through a problem or showcase a skill you offer.”
Here are Glassdoor’s Top 25 Oddball Questions of the year:
1. "If you could throw a parade of any caliber through the Zappos office what type of parade would it be?" – The Zappos Family
2. "How lucky are you and why?" – Airbnb
3. "If you were a pizza deliveryman how would you benefit from scissors?" – Apple
4. "If you could sing one song on American Idol, what would it be?" – Red Frog Events
5. "Are you more of a hunter or a gatherer?" – Dell
6. "If you were on an island and could only bring 3 things, what would you bring?" – Yahoo
7. "If you were a box of cereal, what would you be and why?" – Bed Bath & Beyond
8. "Do you believe in Big Foot?" – Norwegian Cruise Line
9. "Why is a tennis ball fuzzy?" – Xerox
10. "What is your least favorite thing about humanity?" – ZocDoc
11. "How would you use Yelp to find the number of businesses in the US?" – Factual
12. "How honest are you?" – Allied Telesis
13. "How many square feet of pizza is eaten in the US each year?" – Goldman Sachs
14. "Can you instruct someone how to make an origami 'cootie catcher' with just words?" – LivingSocial
15. "If you were 80 years old, what would you tell your children?" – McKinsey & Company
16. "You're a new addition to the crayon box, what color would you be and why?"– Urban Outfitters
17. "How does the internet work?" – Akamai
18. "If there was a movie produced about your life, who would play you, and why?"– SinglePlatform
19. "What's the color of money???...." – American Heart Association
20. "What was the last gift you gave someone?" – Gallup
21. "What is the funniest thing that has happened to you recently?" – Applebee's
22. "How many snow shovels sold in the US last year?" – TASER
23. "It’s Thursday, we’re staffing you on a telecommunications project in Calgary, Canada on Monday. Your flight and hotel are booked; your visa is ready. What are the top five things you do before you leave?" – ThoughtWorks
24. "Most unexpected question: Describe to me the process and benefits of wearing a seatbelt." – Active Network
25. "Have you ever been on a boat?” – Applied Systems
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