Don't get flustered if you're thrown this creative interview question curveball.
Anyone currently fighting their way through today's challenging job market can tell you that job interviews are much more challenging than you might think. There are the typical interview questions that you can expect and prepare for: “Can you tell me a little about yourself?”, “What do you know about the company?”, “Why should we hire you?”, and “What is your greatest weakness?” But what do you do when the interviewer throws a curveball question at you that's completely unexpected — and sometimes really weird or unusual?
Barbara Bryne, CBS board member and former vice chairman of investment banking at Barclays, likes to assess her candidates to see if they're boring via a method that she calls the airplane test: “Could I sit on a plane from New York to L.A. with you and not be bored out of my mind?”. Bryne evaluates whether the interviewees can pass this test by asking this creative interview question, “Talk to me about when you were seven or eight. Who did you want to be?”. Our career expert, Amanda Augustine, recently shared some tips with CNBC that will help you answer this and other interesting interview questions. Read the full article here.
Understand the interviewer's motivation
According to Augustine, besides being a good conversation starter, these oddball questions are meant to reveal your true personality. “The executive's goal is to take the candidate 'off-script' and get them talking about something for which they hadn't prepared,” explains Augustine.
When you're asked creative interview questions like this, instead of freaking out, remind yourself that these tough questions are usually asked for very valid reasons. When it comes to hiring newcomers, the hiring manager isn't just looking at the individual's technical expertise and experience, but also whether they would be a good cultural fit for the organization or not. Even if you're the most skilled candidate in the pool, chances are you won't ace the interview if your personality does not match the company's core values and culture.
Draw parallels between your childhood dream and your current job
If you're faced with this unusual job interview question used by Byrne, Augustine recommends thinking of a specific role that captivated you as a child and trying to remember what attracted you to that job in the first place in order to draw parallels between that and the career you're currently pursuing.
For instance, when Augustine was seven or eight, she thought that she wanted to be a teacher. While that's not her job today, her current career allows her to educate and empower others, things that originally drew her to teaching. Similarly, try to think of significant responsibilities in your current job that parallel the key expectations of your childhood dream job and articulate them passionately!
Discuss other roles you've been interested in
Although this interview question is specifically about your childhood dream job, you can also discuss the various occupations that you've been drawn to over the years, concluding with what they all have in common to reflect more on your passions and professional goals.
“Don't be afraid,” says Augustine, “to go into a few specifics that allow your interviewer to see the real you.” For example, perhaps you dreamed of becoming a doctor when you were a kid. Over the years, maybe life took you in a different direction and you ended up pursuing a career as a wildlife conservationist. While these roles might seem completely unrelated, you can talk about your passion to help others, and how your current job allows you to help heal and protect endangered animals and their habitat. Let your personality and passions shine.
Creative interview questions like these almost never have a “right” answer, so the way you deliver your answer is as important as the content. The interviewer clearly wants to know the real personality behind your carefully scripted responses that you prepared prior to the interview. Don't be afraid to show your sense of humor, as it's important to give the interviewer a sense of what it's like to work with you. That being said, please avoid sarcastic remarks and inappropriate jokes, as this isn't the time or place to show how edgy you can be. Instead, always answer these interesting interview questions with enthusiasm. Once you've demonstrated that you're excited about this role and up to tackling new problems, you've won half the battle.
Want to feel secure in your next interview no matter what they throw at you? A TopInterview coach can help with that.