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5 Oddball Interview Questions And How You Can Tackle Them

Jacqui Barrett-Poindexter

Much ado is given to quirky and off-the-wall interview questions. This day in age, hiring managers are asking tougher questions to find the very best employee possible. So, what should you do if you're asked a question that seems like it came out of nowhere? Will you be ready or will the heat of the moment convert calm into chaos? The following are five challenging interview questions you could be asked in 2013, as published in Glassdoor's "Top 25 Oddball Interview Questions for 2013," (http://www.glassdoor.com/top-25-oddball-interview-questions.htm) and suggested approaches to answering them.

1. "Jeff Bezos walks into your office and says you can have a million dollars to launch your best entrepreneurial idea. What is it?"- Asked at Amazon.

Why question is being asked: Your ability to think logically, but also outside of the frame, and prove return on the million-dollar investment in a way that aligns with Amazon's market values, is key here.

How to tackle the answer: Consider 'what's in it for Jeff Bezos.' Why will your answer benefit him/Amazon? If you have conducted your due diligence on Amazon's CEO, you know that Mr. Bezos is less concerned about thick profit margins and more focused on testing and expanding appealing new services to customers. You also realize he believes the opportunity offered by the Internet and e-commerce is largely untapped. So, as you're preparing your answer, consider what customer needs currently are unfulfilled, and how you could fill that void, tapping the vast virtual market place.

2. "What songs best describe your work ethic?" - Asked at Dell.

Why question is being asked: While this question is not posed to test your musical prowess or knowledge of the latest hits, it does have a purpose. Your answer helps illustrate the value you place on hard, roll-up-your-sleeves work as well as the energy that inspires you to be the best employee you can be.

How to tackle the answer: Whether you listen to heavy metal, country, rock, hip-hop or adult contemporary, the trick here is not to just brain dump the first favorite song that pops into your head. Rather, be mindful of the fact that you're in a job interview. Think Rocky's theme song, "Gonna Fly Now," versus Johnny Paycheck's "Take This Job and Shove It."

3. "How would people communicate in a perfect world?" - Asked at Novell.

Why question is being asked: Butterflies and rainbows illuminate a perfect world. This question is not looking for perfect-world, realistically unattainable solutions, at least not initially. Instead, think about tangible solutions based on current communication realities.

How to tackle the answer: Think, "the power of one." While laptops, smart phones, and iPads have created a hyper connectivity that was unimaginable more than a decade ago, people feel more disconnected than ever before, lost amidst the sea of broadcast posts and groupthink. How can companies fix that? Consider wrapping your answer around this problem. Offer solutions that speak to your colleagues' needs to truly feel 'listened to' as individuals through one-on-one engagement. Think one-on-one "voice" conversations between manager and employee, colleague and colleague, owner and staff member.

4. "How would you rate your memory?" - Asked at Marriott.

Why question is being asked: Photographic memories are nice, but most people aren't gifted in that way. They rely on calendars, to-do lists, and organizational skills to ensure follow-through on important promises.

How to tackle the answer: Underscore your abilities to create and execute upon processes that ensure you remember and follow-through on important details, events, and client promises. Illustrate that you have a great memory that is based on knowing what to prioritize and how to ensure it gets done. Show, through vivid word stories, that you have used memory-spurring tools in the past to make your company look good - and that you'll do the same for your new potential employer.

5. "How do you make a tuna sandwich?" - Asked at Astron Consulting.

Why question is being asked: Consultants often are prized for their ability to break down and assess processes to ensure the most efficient, cost-effective, and profitable results are delivered. As such, this question is likely being asked to prove you have the capacity to do just that.

How to tackle the answer: Have you ever made a tuna sandwich? Good. Articulate that you have streamlined the process by pinning your favorite recipe to Pinterest. In fact, if tuna sandwiches are a favorite, articulate that you keep boiled eggs and chopped celery on hand for a quick whipping up of these protein-packed food gems.

Oddball interview questions come at you from seemingly nowhere. One minute you're expressing your unique ability to convert sales prospects into revenue, the next you're being asked to talk about sombrero-wearing penguins. The point is, while you cannot fully let your guard down in an interview, you also shouldn't take yourself so seriously that you cannot see, and respond to the humor in the process. Prepare yourself with the mindset for the unexpected, and be ready to go off-script to ensure the most successful interview result possible.

Jacqui Barrett-Poindexter is a Glassdoor career and workplace expert, chief career writer and partner with CareerTrend, and is one of only 28 Master Resume Writers (MRW) globally. Jacqui and her husband, "Sailor Rob," host a lively careers-focused blog at http://careertrend.net/blog. Jacqui is a power Twitter user (@ValueIntoWords), listed on several "Best People to Follow" lists for job seekers.

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