Unusual Interview Questions

Readers share unusual interview questions that gave them some insight into the work environment at the company.

Do you wear a watch?
Cincinnati, OH

Once, being interviewed for a job soon after graduating from college, the interviewer went through a list of written questions (all somewhat strange) and then commented that I didn't wear a watch and that's not good. I pointed out to him that I don't like wearing a watch on my wrist but that I carry one in my purse (this was before cell phones.)

I asked him why he cared about the watch. Was it about being punctual? No, he said and opened his desk drawer. He pulled out a book in manuscript form titled "Never Hire Someone Who Doesn't Wear A Watch!" The pages of the manuscript were well worn and I had the feeling that he was highly impressed with the advice given in the book. I asked him about it and he spent the next 10 minutes going over it in detail. I don't remember much of it, but I realized during the lecture that he would not be someone that I wanted to work for.

I learned that day that although I was the one being interviewed, I could learn about the employer through the interview process.

Lisa's Response

Shiri, that's a new one for me. I've never heard that question and can't even imagine why it would important enough to be the title of a book (even an unpublished one). I wouldn't have passed that test either. I rarely wear a watch (I don't like the way they feel on my wrist), but punctuality is very important to me and not an issue.

You made a great point when you wrote "I realized during the lecture that he would not be someone that I wanted to work for."

Amid the anxiety of job interviews, people forget that they are at the interview to assess the company as much as the employer is assessing them. Any job you accept will have a huge impact on your day to day life, and a job interview is usually your best opportunity to determine whether you'd be happy working at that company.

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Read Between the Lines of Unusual Interview Questions

Once I was interviewing for a job as a tour guide, where I would basically stand at the front of a bus and tell the tourists about the landmarks they were seeing. Then out of nowhere the tour manager asked me, "So do you like camping? Are you a big camping fan?" I wasn't sure why he was asking, but I said yes, I like camping very much, which is true.

Then he asked, "Are you good with kids? Do you like kids?" This seemed reasonable in the context of tour guiding, since obviously there might be kids on the bus. So I told him that I get along fine with kids but don't like them enough to work with them exclusively, because I thought maybe the company ran school tours as well as regular tourist buses, and I didn't want to get stuck doing tours for school kids.

I found out later that the actual reason he was asking was that he was in charge of a Boy Scout troop, and he often tried to get his employees to volunteer with his troop in addition to their actual jobs. This seemed like too much of a blurring of the line between work and not-work to me, and I turned down the job.

Sometimes crazy questions can be a warning sign!

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Crazy Interview Question - Where Does Your Son Bunk?

by Sharon
(Tucson, Arizona)

The craziest interview question I have ever been asked concerned childcare for my son. I was applying for a position as a part-time librarian and had been asked about my experience with children. In my answer, I talked about working with children at my son's school in a library setting so they knew I had a child. I never mentioned my marital status in the interview, but I do not wear a wedding ring. The interviewer asked me if I was available to attend a two-day conference in a city about 2 hours away if I obtained the position, and I said that I was. He then asked me, "Does your son have somewhere to bunk when you're gone?" I simply said yes but thought that that was a bizarre question. Did he think I left my son on the side of the road while I was away on business? All he had business asking me is whether I was available to attend the conference not what happened with my child when I was gone.

Perhaps he was trying to determine if I was going to take my son to the conference but if so then my answer should have been the end of it. However, he then asked me the same question again, and then later in the interview he asked the same question in the same manner once again. I think he was trying to determine my marital status/situation or determine whether I employed a nanny service or something. In any case, it was very strange and I didn't get the position.

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My most interesting crazy job interview

by Kimberly
(Des Moines, Iowa, USA )

I had an interview with a company when I was 19 to work for a Research company who did surveys. Now at the time I went in I found the place to be nice and pleasant till I met one of the supervisors who did the interview. I did get the job lol but some of the questions I was asked were pretty crazy.

I got asked if I liked animals and I did not think much of it but I said yes as nice as I could without laughing just smiled. Then I got asked what are my favorite colors, beverages, and on. Now answering them was not that hard but being ask these things was a bit silly and crazy.

I was going in for a desk type job but I found out I was being hired for a survey phone person. It made good money but to be asked the questions I was and more I found it quite silly to say the least.

I think sometimes some people want you to feel like you are walking into a nice and yet fun place but then they think of questions to ask that I or you would find funny and crazy lol.

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Interview for a Job or a Date?

by Lisa
(Palmyra, NJ)

Many years ago when I was just starting out in the business world a potential employer asked me a question that was not only crazy, but it was also highly inappropriate.

As I sat across the desk from him in my freshly ironed suit answering the basic interview questions with the answers I had dutifully practiced, the potential employer threw me off guard by asking me, "Are you single, and would you be interested in a workplace romance?"

This question was asked in a manner befitting Larry the Lounge Lizard, and coupled with a leering grin that made me feel as if I was wearing a see-through nightie instead of my brand new business suit!

I stammered a reply that telegraphed that I wasn't interested and the interview was quickly over.

Now, these days when most companies are very mindful of sexual harassment laws, this kind of blatant come on is unlikely to occur, but that doesn't mean that you should be unprepared for the possibility.

You may never be asked direct questions in regard to your romantic status, but picking up on clues that the person interviewing you may be interested in more than a good employee will save you trouble down the line. Some things to look out for:

-The person conducting the interview pays you several personal compliments unrelated to your work experience.

-The person conducting the interview closes the physical gap between you (comes around the desk, sits closer, etc).

-The person conducting the interview holds your handshake too long, touches you in seemingly harmless ways (hand on arm, small of back, etc).

Don't discount your own gut feelings! If you feel that the person interviewing you is looking at you like a potential date rather than a potential employee, chances are you're right.

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Do you think my husband is hot?

by Ellien

Craziest job interview question I have ever gotten was..Do you think my husband is hot?

I am a live-in Nanny and was looking to relocate so had to do the dreaded interviews, most are all the "new" parent questions but once I thought the interview was coming to an end the Mother looked at me and with a straight face and said "Do you think my husband is hot?" At first I sat waiting for the laugh but to my amazement she was really asking that question.

Lots of answers and my own questions are running through my head now..okay where was that front door again, did I tell my family the address I was going to, the nanny agency knows I am here...I pulled all my thoughts together and looked her in the eyes (trying not to look at him) and responded with you have a very handsome family you all are picture perfect.

Mother then says yes but is my husband hot to you, I don't want you two sleeping together. With that (and all my hairs standing up) I said No that will not be a problem I am gay. I figured I would either freak them out as they are me or have them laughing.

I quickly finished the interview off with thank you I look forward to hearing from you. Once out of the house, knowing I was safe in my car driving away I called agency to let them know of the issue. The only tip I can give is stay calm and get out of situation fast.

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Are you serious?

by Nicole
(Houston TX)

During an interview for an admin assistant job, I was asked if I was a male or female and if I was born that way. The question was crazy because, not only is my name Nicole, but I was sitting right there and am obviously a female and the second part of that question was just plain strange.

Laughing, I told him I was female and, yes I had been born that way. I asked him if that was a typical interview question and he just flatly said "yes, it is."

That has been the only interview that's ever left me thinking how strange it must be to work there and wondering how weird is this person on a day to day basis.

I have no idea what so ever why he asked that question but, he was totally serious about it and never even cracked a smile. I'm assuming it was relevant somehow but, I turned down that job so I never found out what that was all about.

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