The interview is going well. You prepared by practicing all those typical questions about your work history, certifications, and questions specific to your job. Everything they’ve asked you so far you answered with ease. You even researched the company and related your answers to the company’s goals.
Interviewer: “If you had a spirit animal, what would it be and why?”
Ok… Ok… it’s one of those surprise interview questions designed to trip you up and see what you are made of. What do you do?
The people who freeze or blow off the question are the ones who may be passed over for the job. Don’t be one of them. If this is the job for you, show them you can handle it! Use these 5 tips to help you field those surprise interview questions.
#1 Expect It!
The first thing you must do is avoid getting flustered if a surprise interview question pops up. Because THAT’S what they might be testing! How do you handle pressure? What do you do when faced with a new problem? How do you react and approach a solution?
Because you expect it, you can just take the question in stride and show confidence on your face when preparing your response.
#2 Smile like this is a game
Your first reaction, now that you know it’s coming, should be to smile when you get the question. Firstly, this shows confidence to the interviewers and that you are not fazed by surprises. Secondly, this will give you time to think of a response.
Pretend it’s a family board game and you got one of those zany question cards. This will help relax you and get creative with your response.
Also, a smile will allow you to approach the question in the right frame of mind. Smiling on the outside, will help you frame a positive response. Then, your response will more likely come from the heart and will show both intelligence and genuine quality behind it.
Even if you don’t have a response, you can show that there are no hard feelings for giving you such an out-of-the-box question. Instead, you are that candidate that can smile about it and take it in stride.
#3 Be Honest
This question was designed to fluster you and see how you react. They will watch you very carefully. So, be honest when you answer. A good interviewer will know subtle signs that you are not truthful. A good practice is to be honest throughout your life, but especially in this interview! If you are thinking about the question, tell them so. If you are totally stuck, compliment the question as being a great one, giving yourself extra time to answer it. Trying a lie now, even to fit a response into a weird question, can be grounds for removal later.
#4 Describe your thoughts as you figure out the answer to the question
Another reason they may be asking you the question is to see you thought processes and how you approach a new problem. If you describe your thoughts as you work out the answer to the problem, they can see your problem-solving skills in action.
At home, practice describing your thoughts to random “Would You Rather…” questions you can find online. It’s good practice.
“I think that a cat would be a good spirit animal for me. They are creative and likable… but they can also be very lazy and sleep the entire day… hmmmm, perhaps that’s not the best one for me….”
As you think out your answer, keep listing off qualities you appreciate in yourself, and list ones that are bad only if you can distance yourself from it.
#5 Still stuck? Defer!
If you are still stuck on the question, take the route of deferring the question until later. “Wow, what a great question! It’s a type of question that I would definitely have to think about to answer.” If you make a point of not rushing such a question, this shows you are a thinker. If you can, come back to the question later in the interview! This is certainly better than lying, or just pretending the question was never asked. Just do your best, and it will be appreciated!
Hope this helps with those interviewer questions and I hope you land that job!