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Whether you are a college graduate or a seasoned executive, when you find yourself in the job market, you will likely turn to friends and colleagues for interview advice. While these conversations can be advantageous, they are unable to prepare you for those questions that come out of left field. Given the current climate of the job market, employers are looking for innovative ways to identify outstanding talent. One method that recruiters are using is unusual interview questions. Job seekers who understand the reasoning behind odd interview questions can set themselves apart from the competition and improve their odds at securing employment.

Employers use unusual interview questions for several reasons. Business and workplace writer Diane Stafford recently emphasized the lack of consensus amongst job seekers and employers. According to Stafford, a seemingly trivial question may actually provide useful insight: “Some interviewers ask, ‘If you were a tree/cookie/animal, what would you be?’ They say the answer gives insight into candidates’ creativity and ability to think on their feet.” Employers rely on odd interview questions to develop a greater understanding of job candidates. There is a growing emphasis on workplace culture and these unusual inquiries can provide useful insight into an individual’s cultural fit. Employers may also ask specific questions tailored to a candidate’s level of experience. For example, a college graduate’s ability to do their work would be of more concern than that of a mid level to executive level professional.

Job seekers at every level can use this information to their advantage. Candidates must first acknowledge that their experience or lack thereof does not necessarily impact their ability to respond to an unusual interview question. You should also expect the unexpected and be prepared to answer questions honestly. Rather than organize a script to follow, they must reflect on their personal values and outline their career goals. You can see advice from our recruiters on how to prepare for your interview here. Remember that employers are asking candidates unusual questions for a reason, and it probably has a lot to do with seeing your authentic self by pushing you to let your guard down. Show them that you know how to maintain professional decorum with whatever quirks make you who you are and you will be on your way to a job offer before you know it.

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