Wild-Card Interview Questions? What Do You Do?
I read a great “Wild-Card Interview Questions” article on Yahoo! Hotjobs yesterday. You can call’em “Out-of-the-Blue” or out of nowhere questions if you like, but by any name they are unexpected questions an interviewer throws at you to see what comes back. They are geared at helping the interviewer see how you respond under pressure and learn more about you. The article lists the following as examples:
- “If aliens landed here right now, what would you do?”
- “What did you want to be when you were 8 years old?”
- “What would your refrigerator say if it could talk?”
The article analyzes a few of these and explains what the interviewer is looking to find. It’s worth a read just to get gain perspective.
Now I’m not the type to ask questions like that, but I can understand why someone would. Hiring someone can be like asking someone to marry you on a first or second date. You simply don’t have enough information, so you make as educated a guess as you can. A question like this can get you to unknowingly lower your guard and give them some insight into the real you. By giving you a jolt, they figure they can learn something about your demeanor and temperament you haven’t revealed to them yet.
I think your first priority when getting one of these is to avoid responding with a “deer in the headlights” look. Even if your answer is lame, it’s probably not going to win or lose you the job. You’ll probably be fine as long as you don’t freak out and rush out of the room in a panic.
If I think out loud here I’m tempted to ask myself, “What answer would impress me as an interviewer?” I’d would be impressed with a bit of humor here. One thing that comes to mind is someone who chuckles coming back with, “Great question. I’ve spents weeks preparing an answer for this one.” I like a sense of humor, but that’s just me. I’m sure you can come up with others if you spent a little bit of time on it.
Once you’ve given your first reaction, you might consider answering it honestly. Pretend you’re at a cocktail party (think sober here). If the stakes were low and you had nothing to lose, what would you say? Most interviewers are wanting to get to know you better. If they hire you they are stuck with you for a quite a while. Knowing more about you than what’s on your resume might actually be refreshing. Remember that people hire and buy from people they like.
My top recommendation is to have a some fun at your interviews. You are probably better qualified for the positions than you give yourself credit. You should be interviewing them as much as they are interviewing you. Show them you are curious. Once you answer their wild-card question, throw it back at them and really listen to their answer. See if you can learn something about them you didn’t know. They may surprise you reveal something that peaks your interest or sends a warning signal that this might not be as good a place to work as you expected.
Remember that you and your future employer are both wanting a good match. Neither side wins if the match ends up being a poor one. So take the time to use the crazy questions, if they come up, to show your true self and learn as much about this future employer as you can.