5 Totally Unexpected Questions in a Job Interview and How to Ace Them

By the SMU Social Media Team

There are a few traits that interviewers always look out for—diligence, willingness to learn and adaptiveness to situations, and the ability to blend in with an organisation’s culture. Yet, expressing these coveted qualities isn’t always as straightforward as they seem.

No matter how much you’ve stalked your potential employer or interviewer on LinkedIn, or how many times you’ve combed through the company website, it’s hard to be fully prepared for the curveballs that may be thrown.

Beyond the obvious qualities, researchers are also looking for candidates with a cool head, and ones who can think outside the box. Here are some quirky (but very real) questions that interviewers have asked candidates in the hot seat; and some tips on how to tackle them:


1. Which superhero ability would you like to have? 

This simple question never fails to leave many interviewees dumbfounded. Many shut down and stutter or laugh nervously. So being able to face it head-on, with a calm and collected mind is a huge plus. It doesn’t really matter whether you pick the gift of invisibility or mind reading. What matters is your reasoning behind your choice, and whether you’re able to answer succinctly, substantially and with conviction.

What your interviewer would likely be looking for in your answers are: Does your choice point towards strong qualities that isrelevant for the role? Does it suggest a quality that would be a good fit for the organisation/team? How quickly can this candidate think quickly on his/her feet?


2. If you were a fruit, what kind would you be and why? 

In asking this question, the interviewer is seeking a glimpse into your personality. Are you a banana—hard on the outside given your thick skin but a total softie on the inside? Or is life for you like a cherry—not always sweet, sometimes sour, and full of ups and downs? The key to answering this question is having a degree of self-awareness, and being able to expand on your answer to let your potential employers know that there’s more to you than what they see.


3. If you were stuck on a desert island and can only bring three things, what would they be? 

It may not be the quirkiest but it might be one of the hardest to answer. Designed to test both your resourcefulness and imagination, there are no right or wrong answers to this question. Answers can range from world-class internet connectivity and a water purifier, to a good book to pass the time. It’s up to you to decide whether you’re going to escape your plight or accept your fate and make the most of the time there.


4. What would you do if you found a penguin in your freezer? 

As ridiculous as this question might seem, it was recently asked in an interview for a spot at upscale grocer Trader Joe’s. Designed to evaluate your problem-solving skills, it also tests your communication skills—how would you explain to animal control the existence of a penguin in your freezer, and more importantly, how would you ensure it doesn’t wreck perhaps the most important household appliance you might have?


5. If we shrunk you to the size of a pencil and put you in a blender, what would you do to get out? 

Don’t be flustered or surprised by the eccentricity of this question, as it’s designed to assess your ability to think on your feet. There isn’t really any model answer to this question—it could be the most logical but effective, or even the most creative and similarly effective. Answer the questions quickly and calmly, and most importantly, walk the interviewer through your thought process.