5 unexpected questions I got asked in a job interview and how I nailed them
This article is written by one of our candidates: Ms. Katya Shuri
Many foreigners in Japan lost their jobs during the COVID-19 pandemic, and I was one of those foreigners. I used to work as a content creator for an inbound travel website, but the company closed down my division in April, so I had to find a new job to survive.
I have never experienced any lay-offs before, and the last time I did a job-hunting was in 2015, so I decided to meet some headhunters from several recruitment agencies. The process was not easy; I sent my applications to 40 companies, but only 7 of them called me for interviews.The interviews were mainly about my past work experiences and future career plan, but some interviewers asked me quirky questions during the interviews to test my creativity and ability to think outside the box.
Normally, interviewers always look out for diligence, willingness to learn, flexibility to situations, and the ability to blend in with company’s culture, but some interviewers will dig yourself more by asking unexpected questions. Today I will share 5 unexpected questions I got asked in a job interview and how I nailed them with my answers.
Question 1: If you were stuck on a desert island and can only bring one thing, what would it be?
In my opinion, this question was not the quirkiest, but it was one of the hardest questions to answer. The question was asked to test both my imagination and resourcefulness, and there are no right or wrong answers for this question. The answers can be anything; from the fastest pocket Wi-Fi and a water purifier, to a good book to read during your stay. It’s up to you whether you’re going to getaway from your plight, or accept your fate and enjoy your stay there.
I answered that I would bring my journal to log my activities on that island.
Question 2: Give us a reason why we shouldn’t hire you.
This question is perhaps the most difficult interview question I have encountered before. When a curveball question like this is asked, usually the interviewer would like to gain a balanced view of you during an interview, which includes both your strengths and limitations, and want to see how you handle yourself in a difficult situation. One of the best ways to answer this question is to twist it around to emphasize a strength, by choosing a quality that can be seen as a positive within the company’s culture and your work role.
My answer was:
You shouldn’t hire me if you are looking for an introvert who only does tasks. I thrive on interaction with colleagues and customers. I can stay on tasks, but building and maintaining positive relationships with people are my specialty and my clear priority.
Question 3: Do you work well with people?
An interviewer asked me this question in a second job interview for an IT company, and it was one of the most difficult questions to answer. The interviewer wanted to know how well I work with others, so the question was tricky to answer.
My answer was:
I am a good listener and a clear communicator, and working on a number of team projects has allowed me to develop my ability to mediate conflicts between team members. For example, on my last project, two of my teammates had arguments and were having trouble reaching an agreement about how to approach an element of the project. I listened to their concerns and sit them down to discuss a solution that would satisfy everyone. As a result, we could finish our project ahead of schedule, and even received compliments from the employer for the high quality of our work.
Question 4: If you were a food or drink, what kind would you be and why?
When I heard this question, I realized that the interviewer was seeking a glimpse into my personality, and wanted to test my self-awareness. There are no right or wrong answers to this question. The answer can be a banana - hard on the outside, but a total softy on the inside, or an egg - fragile, but in boiling water, the inside of the egg became hard.
I answered that I am the ground coffee beans - they changed the water and created something new after they were exposed to the boiling water - this is how I respond when adversity knocks on my door.
Question 5: What is your favorite food and why do you like it?
This question was asked to test my skills in presenting things that I like, and it was not so difficult to answer.
I said that I like pasta because they are easy to make, and they blend well with any sauces. Cooking pasta is not time-consuming, and the ingredients are cheap too, so I can save not only my time, but also my money by eating pasta on daily basis.
In conclusion, you need to keep in mind that the main purpose of an interviewer asking unexpected questions is to get you out of your comfort zone to check how you are going to react in stressful and unexpected circumstances. The ability to think on your feet and make decisions in a rapidly changing environment are important for many positions, so make sure to react in any unexpected questions with confidence and self-awareness.
Also big thanks to Jellyfish and Mixess team for giving the chance to write and publish this! Out of all recruit agencies I encountered you guys are the most chill and comfortable to partner-up with which is rare to find in Japan's recruitment work field.
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