Recently, Glassdoor compiled a list of weird job interview questions in an effort to demonstrate hiring practices at huge companies like Google.
The questions shocked a lot of readers, with some examples including, “How many quarters would you need to reach the height of the Empire State Building?” and “What’s your favorite song? Perform it for us now.”
Why would some of the world’s biggest businesses ask such random questions? Here are a few thoughts.
1. Sometimes, these questions measure tact. “If you had turned your cell phone to silent, and it rang loudly despite being on silent, what would you tell me?” Cell phones going off at inappropriate times can be some people’s biggest pet peeves. It’s a growing trend that’s more and more common within society (especially if you’ve been to a movie theater lately). A response to this question might show to the prospective employer how concerned you are by offending other people and whether you would show respect for fellow colleagues.
2. They show how you problem-solve. Sometimes it’s good that you don’t have an answer, as these questions challenge you to figure out how to arrive at a conclusion. For example, “Estimate how many windows are in New York.” This question is about as easy as, “How many grains of sand are there in the world?” You can sketch out for the interviewer the info you would need to know. What section of NY? How many buildings are in this area? In this case, every detail counts, which demonstrates how far you’d go when it comes to tackling an issue.
3. These questions value honesty. “Have you ever stolen a pen from work?” Seems like an insanely petty question, but the response could determine whether you “man up” to mistakes or not.
4. Some questions extract potential you didn’t even know possible. “How would people communicate in a perfect world?” Questions like this are probably something you’ve never thought about. However, when it comes to being interviewed and under pressure to respond, you may come up with ideas that you never thought possible.
5. Some questions just demonstrate character. “What do you think about when you are alone in your car?” Creative writers will tell you that the best way to develop a protagonist is to write about what your character would be doing when they are alone. This is a similar question that shows a little bit about yourself to the interviewer.
The good news with these kinds of questions is that there is no wrong way to answer them. Sure, you want to be respectful and courteous (“Are you out of your flipping mind?” is probably the wrong response), but you also just want to be honest and put serious thought into them. The questions may sound ludicrous, but offering a thoughtful response shows you can roll with the punches—something every employer is looking for.