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Weirdest Job Interview Questions

Large companies sometimes throw oddball queries at applicants, according to a survey by Glassdoor.com. How would you answer these inquiries?

A penguin walks through that door right now wearing a sombrero. What does he say and why is he here?

If you were to get rid of one state in the U.S., which would it be and why?

What kitchen utensil would you be?

That's a sampling of Glassdoor.com's Top 25 Oddball Interview Questions for 2013, a list gleaned from job candidates at Google, Kraft Foods, JetBlue and other companies over the past year.

Other offbeat questions on the list include "How many cows are in Canada?" (asked at Google) and "Pick two celebrities to be your parents" (asked at Urban Outfitters).

In some cases, the website also published readers' suggested replies, such as these possible retorts to the penguin-in-sombrero question:

  • The penguin says, “Stop asking stupid interview questions.”
  • So, you don't do drug testing here, huh?

To read the full list of weird questions, click here. And, in the comments section below, tell us the strangest thing a job interviewer ever asked you. Can you top Glassdoor's list?

Malissa Tem February 04, 2013 at 04:43 PM
I haven't experienced any of the wacky questions yet! Just the standard, "where do you see yourself in five years?" and "what are your strengths and weaknesses?"
LG Joe February 04, 2013 at 04:57 PM
I was taken to lunch during one interview. I ordered soup, because it would be easiest to converse without eating with food in my mouth as well as not eating something that might spill, require a lot of fuss or have to use my hands. When it was served, I picked up the pepper shaker and added a few shakes to my soup. The interviewer asked me "why did you season your food before tasting it?" Be alert on interviews, even when you think you can let your guard down. They are watching and analyzing your every move.
Michelle Kye February 04, 2013 at 05:54 PM
If a perspective employer asked me one of those wacky questions, I would thank them for their time and get up and leave -- not my kind of employer. I want someone who values and respects their employees and takes the hiring process seriously. I'm not interested in some BS psychoanalytical process that they think shows creativity or problem-solving abilities.
Vito Spago February 04, 2013 at 05:57 PM
Just tell him you have been their before and they never put in enough pepper. BTW, you likely do not want to work there anyway. Anyone that asks such questions are morons. With that question, order Lobster, Eat the free lunch, walk out and never talk to them again.
Charles Ferrell February 04, 2013 at 06:26 PM
The toughest decisions I had to make when I was a manager was hiring personnel. Those decisions are far more difficult than termininating someone. When, as a manager, you utter those two words "you're hired" you are changing someone else's life (they will be quitting their current job, possibly resulting in their spouse quitting their job, making decisions whether to move, etc.), changing the workplace environment in your and perhaps other departments (you never really know what change a new employee will have on the office chemistry), and changing your own live at work as you must devote extra time to training and developing the new employee and decide how that new employee can best fit in with the current office chemistry and make the required adjustments within your department in order to make it operate at its efficient best, with the change in personnel. Yes, saying "you're hired" is a big deal, indeed. Letting someone go, although a tough thing to do, was often a relief and a positive change in the entire department now that you have decided that someone who wasn't pulling his or her weight or was not having a good impact on the department or the company as a whole, had to go. Being a manager is so much more than just sitting back and watching the "worker bees" perform their tasks. It is deciding who works there and who does not anymore, and it is doing everything possible to provide the leadership to help the department and the company operate at a peak level.
Charles Ferrell February 04, 2013 at 06:32 PM
To get back on topic, stupid questions are just that... stupid. They are a waste of everybody's time. The proper way to test if a potential job candidate can or cannot think on his or her feet, is to ask questions, even surprise questions, that relate to the work that will have to be done. Toss in a scenario or two of what could confront the new employee on the job, and see how he or her handles the situation. Actually, the question of why someone would spice up their food before tasting is a good one. The suggested answer of "I have been here before, so I know what extra seasonings are required" is a top notch answer. But what kind of kitchen tool would you be??? That is a Barbara Walters question. Remember she is famous for acting some celebrity if they were a tree, what kind of tree would they be. That is a dumb question. A surprise question at an interview is a good idea; a stupid question at an iinterview is not.
Frank Geefay February 04, 2013 at 07:58 PM
When I was interviewing for my first job decades ago an interviewer asked me a wacky technical question. I answered with what I thought was a far out but somewhat original answer. I later learned that there was no correct answer to the wacky question. They were just trying to test me for my creative thinking ability and how I responded under pressure. They gave me a job offer the next day which I gladly accepted. This is a major name recognized company where I worked for decades. There is a reason why some professional interviewers ask wacky questions. They know there is no way you can prepare or anticipate such question so they are an effective way to test your creative thinking process under pressure in a very short time-span. These can be deal breakers when interviewers are comparing many candidates for the same job to see who best to hire. They know that anyone can acquire technical knowledge but people deal with uncharted situations very differently. Many employers want people who think outside the box, who are rational and creative thinkers. So if I was asked a wacky question during a job interview and I needed the job I would answer such questions with a bit of forethought and as much creativity, logic, and relevance that I could muster at that moment even if the question seems unrelated to the job being are applying for. Giving them condescending or inconsequential answers is stupid and will only put you at the very bottom of their long list.
MB February 04, 2013 at 09:10 PM
At Bay Federal, I was interviewed by 7 people in a room. One of them handed me a coaster from the table and said "sell this to us". WORST. INTEREVIEW. EVER.
Charles Ferrell February 04, 2013 at 10:21 PM
So they wanted you to sell something for which you were not authorized to sell. An interview is a very serious thing. Sounds like you were a serious candidate, but the inerview panel was not made up of folks of your same character. Job interviews are about changing people's lives. They need to be taken seriously by all involved.
all-c-ing-eye February 04, 2013 at 11:23 PM
A penguin walks through the door wearing a sombrero, What does he say and why is he here? ok here goes-------"Hey" these chili snowcones are great J.R, lets run em up the flagpole and sell em quack, quack.---------------Or!-------Sorry the glass was so clean i never saw it Quack. [remember, he walked Through it, didnt open the door] ha ha.
beaumontdave February 04, 2013 at 11:58 PM
Answer: Because it's always blander than I like my soup.
Rosalinda Oropeza Randall February 05, 2013 at 02:16 AM
LG Joe, You are correct...the point of an interview is to watch for little 'red flags'. Do you arrive on time? How do you dress? How do you interact with the server? What you order? Drinks? How picky? Conversation skills? Table manners? Do you look and stare at every 'hot' woman that walks by?
Rosalinda Oropeza Randall February 05, 2013 at 02:24 AM
Some questions may seem "stupid" (not dismissing that possibility), but usually it is to learn about how someone reacts to a "stupid" question or situation. Does the person respond or react? Are they tactful or defensive? Are they open to another point of view? The potential employer has to make a determination in such a short time; asking standard questions may not provide insight because the job seeker may have the responses memorized. Fabulous topic.
Frank Geefay February 05, 2013 at 07:05 PM
There seems some overtones of racism in this comment.
Jacqueline Cheung February 05, 2013 at 07:58 PM
Suzanne Cook, calling an Asian person a "chinaman" is highly offensive. Also, you are stereotyping an entire race. I agree with Frank, this comment is racist.
Cody Kitaura (Editor) February 05, 2013 at 08:17 PM
A comment has been removed from this article for using an ethnic slur. Please be respectful in your posts. Thanks!
Ben Mason February 05, 2013 at 08:18 PM
I was asked if I would like to see my name on a door, fishing around to see if I was passing through or would stay long enough to advance through the rank and file to an office somewhere. Said, no, I don't want to see my name on a door. I think it would look better on the building and letterhead.
Claire Frémont-Hampton February 05, 2013 at 09:04 PM
That was the appropriate response. You would be surprised how many people say "what door?"
Jacqueline Cheung February 05, 2013 at 11:21 PM
Thank you Cody!
Carol Gallagher February 05, 2013 at 11:39 PM
Thank you Michelle! I would do the same thing. How plan stupid and immature such questions would be.
Carol Gallagher February 05, 2013 at 11:42 PM
Asking someone why they put pepper in their food is just as stupid as all the rest of the questions revealed here. Its frankly none of your business and I doubt relavant to most job duties except if you were applying to be a chef. Get real.
Frank Geefay February 06, 2013 at 08:21 PM
Thanks.
Frank Geefay February 06, 2013 at 08:25 PM
Very good. Some spontaneous, intelligent, and tasteful humor is always well received.
Ben Mason February 06, 2013 at 10:14 PM
I was actually quite serious. If I said what door, I pretty much would have been shown out the door. If I said, yes, certainly I would like my name on a door (of an office) then I would be admitting my ambition has its limits.

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