The 10 strangest job interview questions in the UK

Who is your favourite Disney Princess? How would you describe the colour yellow to a blind person?

These are just two of the strangest questions that have been asked in job interviews globally. Does your organisation have any odd questions? What’s their purpose?

Today I’m going to share with you the top 10 oddest interview questions in the UK, plus the 50 most popular ones to help you prepare or review the interviews in your organisation. They really do prove job candidates must be prepared for anything.

Tip: If you’re looking for a new comms role, do see my jobs page.

glassdoorHow Google recruits
Google has been well documented for its technique, and I wrote about my own experience of being interviewed by them for a comms role five years ago, and revealed how Google recruits.

Glassdoor, the TripAdvisor style website for employees, has combed through tens of thousands of interview questions shared by candidates over the past year to compile its annual list of the Top 10 Oddball Interview Questions.

It has done so by country, and lists have been created for the US, Canada, France and Germany.

They amused me and I thought I’d share the UK ones here to see what readers of my blog think of them. Do you have questions like these inside your organisation?

I have to admit I wonder what purpose questions like this serve. Are they to trip people up? Or – and I hope this is the case – provide opportunities for people to reveal how they think? Do let me know your thoughts below or Tweet me @AllthingsIC.

The Top 10 oddest questions in the UK are:

  1. “Can you calculate how many tennis balls are used during the course of Wimbledon?” – View answers. Asked at AccentureMore Accenture interview questions. (Tweet this)
  2. “Estimate the total number of cars in the UK.” – View answers. Asked at Barclays CapitalMore Barclays Capital interview questions.
  3. “How many calories are in a grocery store (supermarket)?” – View answers. Asked at GoogleMore Google interview questions.
  4. “How would you sell a fridge to an eskimo?” – View answers. Asked at HarrodsMore Harrods interview questions.
  5. “What would you take to a lonely island with you and why?” – View answers. Asked at Urban OutfittersMore Urban Outfitters interview questions.
  6. “Is batman a super hero?” – View answersAsked at AlphaSightsMore AlphaSights interview questions.
  7. “You have 17 red and 17 blue balls, and you remove 2 at a time. If the two are the same colour, add in one extra blue ball. If they are different colours, add in an extra red ball. What colour is the final ball removed?” – View answers. Asked at GeonomicsMore Geonomics interview questions.
  8. “What cartoon character would you be and why?” – View answers. Asked at ASDAMore ASDA interview questions.
  9. “What is the wildest thing you have done?” – View answers. Asked at Metro BankMore Metro Bank interview questions.
  10. “What was your opinion of the film Blair Witch Project?” – View answersAsked at Jefferies & CompanyMore Jefferies & Company interview questions.

I’m so tempted to publish my answers to those! What are yours?

A spokesman for Glassdoor said: “While job candidates should be ready to take on some challenging and oddball interview questions, they should also expect to be asked some basic or common interview questions.”

What are the most common questions? You’re in the right place to find out…

Glassdoor has also compiled a list of the 50 most common interview questions:

  1. What are your strengths?
  2. What are your weaknesses?
  3. Why are you interested in working for [insert company name here]?
  4. Where do you see yourself in 5 years? 10 years?
  5. Why do you want to leave your current company?
  6. Why was there a gap in your employment between [insert date] and [insert date]?
  7. What can you offer us that someone else can not?
  8. What are three things your former manager would like you to improve on?
  9. Are you willing to relocate?
  10. Are you willing to travel?
  11. Tell me about an accomplishment you are most proud of.
  12. Tell me about a time you made a mistake.
  13. What is your dream job?
  14. How did you hear about this position?
  15. What would you look to accomplish in the first 30 days/60 days/90 days on the job?
  16. Discuss your resume.
  17. Discuss your educational background.
  18. Describe yourself.
  19. Tell me how you handled a difficult situation.
  20. Why should we hire you?
  21. Why are you looking for a new job?
  22. Would you work holidays/weekends?
  23. How would you deal with an angry or irate customer?
  24. What are your salary requirements? (Hint: if you’re not sure what’s a fair salary range and compensation package, research the job title and/or company on Glassdoor.)
  25. Give a time when you went above and beyond the requirements for a project.
  26. Who are our competitors?
  27. What was your biggest failure?
  28. What motivates you?
  29. What’s your availability?
  30. Who’s your mentor?
  31. Tell me about a time when you disagreed with your boss.
  32. How do you handle pressure?
  33. What is the name of our CEO?
  34. What are your career goals?
  35. What gets you up in the morning?
  36. What would your direct reports say about you?
  37. What were your bosses’ strengths/weaknesses?
  38. If I called your boss right now and asked him what is an area that you could improve on, what would he say?
  39. Are you a leader or a follower?
  40. What was the last book you’ve read for fun?
  41. What are your co-worker pet peeves?
  42. What are your hobbies?
  43. What is your favorite website?
  44. What makes you uncomfortable?
  45. What are some of your leadership experiences?
  46. How would you fire someone?
  47. What do you like the most and least about working in this industry?
  48. Would you work 40+ hours a week?
  49. What questions haven’t I asked you?
  50. What questions do you have for me?

Revolving reputations via Glassdoor

If you’ve never encountered Glassdoor before, I encourage you to check it out. I wrote an article about them in January 2015: Have you seen what your employees are saying about you?

Glassdoor I recommend looking up your company on Glassdoor if you’ve never done so. The site has been around since 2007 and describes itself as: “the world’s most transparent career community that is changing the way people find jobs, and companies recruit top talent.”

I’ve blogged many times about the blurring of lines between internal and external communication. For me, Glassdoor is a brilliant example of that – your employees can share exactly what it is like to work at your organisation and so do in a public place, where past, current and future employees can get a glimpse into your workplace.

What are your employees saying about your company?

You can find out more information about Glassdoor online: Glassdoor BlogGlassdoor Talent Solutions Blog and follow the company on  Twitter Facebook Google+ and  LinkedIn.

Further reading:

Thank you as ever for stopping by,

Rachel Miller

First published on All Things IC blog 18 March 2015.

All picture credits: Glassdoor.

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