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The Top 20 Worst Job Interview Questions - Why Do Employers Ask Them and How to Answer Them

24/02/2017 16:21
BartekSzewczyk via Getty Images

A study released this week (Weds 22 Feb) has revealed the top 20 worst job interview questions you might be unlucky to face in 2017.

It was created by anonymous job review website Glassdoor, which compiled the hardest questions users had faced over the previous 12 months. The list of toughies includes: "Provide an estimate for the number of goals in the Premier League", "What's the most selfish thing you've ever done", "How would your enemy describe you", "What am I thinking right now" and at Number One, "What on your CV is the closest thing to a lie?".

Why do they ask these crazy questions? Well, it's become more of a tactic with interviewers nowadays - to throw in a curveball to see how you react and try and get a measure of you as a person rather than hearing your perfectly rehearsed answers. Increasingly, interviewers like to test your initiative and lateral thinking by asking these off-the-wall questions.

Other weird job interview questions I've heard of over the years include: "If you were a pencil and stuck in a blender, how would you get out?" That's pretty out-there!

But it's about being solution-focused and your ability to problem solve. You could answer you'd ask someone to fill the blender with water and float to top, or ask someone to turn it on so you spin to the edge with centrifugal force (a risky answer), bounce out with the rubber or write 'HELP' on the inside in mirror writing - you get the picture.

Don't worry about your answer sounding silly - these questions offer a rare opportunity to demonstrate you have a sense of humour and react positively to pressure. The more memorable your answer, the more likely you are to secure a second interview.

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Public domain image courtesy of Pixaby


Another is: "What would you take to the moon and why?"

Answers could include: "A laptop so that I could continue to work for you," "My mobile so I could call an Uber" and "A spare petrol can to make sure I have enough fuel to get home again". Or you could answer that you think manned flights are a waste of resources - which is a good answer if they are looking for someone ballsy.

You just need to think on your feet and remember that it's okay to be contrarian - just don't be a Rottweiler.

Another example of these tricky questions might be: "How many square foot of pizza is eaten in the UK each year?" This type of question is a 'market sizing question' - it's designed to test your mathematical prowess, non-verbal reasoning and general knowledge. You can answer using simple algebra made easier by basing your answer on assumptions.

So on the assumption the population of the UK is approximately 60million, working on an average that two out of three people eat pizza, that's 40million people chomping on slices. Let's say each they eat two pieces twice a month. So that's four slices a month per person. If your normal slice of pizza is three inches at the base and 12 inches long, then it's 36 square inches of pizza. So, four pizza slices would be 144 square inches. As one square foot equals 144 square inches , then each person who eats pizza eats one square foot per month. Therefore 40million square foot of pizza per month are scoffed in the UK.

You could be funny at the end and say you hope none of them had pineapple on too (showing your outstanding knowledge of current pizza eating trends in the Icelandic presidential palace!).

These wacky questions are clearly foxing and difficult to prepare for. But luckily there are no wrong or right answers - it's why and how you give the answers that counts.

Basically, the interviewer will be watching you to see if you can think on your feet and answer with confidence and spontaneity.

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Public domain image courtesy of Pixaby


Essentially, these kind of questions are about how you react under pressure, your ability to problem solve, sense of humour, whether you have quick, out-of-the box, blue sky, lateral thinking, confidence in your convictions, innovative ideas, spatial awareness and mathematical capability. Equally the interviewer may just be a sadist who wants to see you squirm!

Ask yourself 'Why are they asking me this'? Focus - your brain can only concentrate on a few things at once. If you are thinking, "What if I sound like an idiot? I don't want to screw up" and "Argh, this interviewer is being awful"- then that doesn't leave you with much brain space to come up with a brilliant answer. So don't let yourself get distracted by negative thoughts.

Ultimately - pause. Pausing is your friend - it gives you time to think and, importantly, the interviewer time to catch up. Think about why they are asking these bonkers questions, then answer strategically and show your true colours, use your brain and be yourself.

That second job interview is in the bag...

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