Tight job market prompts outlandish interview questions

The World

In the current economy, there are more than six applicants for every job opening. As a result, employers are looking for more ways to weed through the pool of applicants and are opting for unusual screening techniques. Takeaway work contributor, Beth Kobliner, explains what job seekers can be expected to endure in the interview process these days ? from online identity searches, to questions about the shape of manhole covers.

We also hear from Connie Thanasoulis-Cerrachio, who interviewed thousands of applicants when she served as the staffing manager at Citigroup and Merrill Lynch. She explains what information employers are trying to glean with these bizarre questions and what kinds of answers will improve your chances of being hired.

Beth’s tips for handling the curveball questions:

1. Don’t get frazzled or angry. These questions are just as much about how you handle a curveball as they are about what exactly you say. You want to show you’ll maintain a good attitude even when faced with the unexpected.

2. Take the question seriously. The interviewer is asking for a reason, and no matter how silly it seems, she obviously believes it’s a good question. Remember that she is in control.

3. Explain your answer. There’s no one right answer to most of these questions. It’s all about how you justify your response in terms that will matter to the employer. So if you’re asked what kind of animal you would be, you could say ?I’d be a tiger, because I’m focused and efficient.?

4. Keep it brief. The wackier the question, the less it’s in your interest to linger on it. Answer the best you can, but keep it brief so the interview can return to more solid, job-focused ground.

5. Have fun with it. Enthusiasm, creativity, and quick thinking are valued by pretty much every employer out there. These questions offer a rare chance to have a little fun during a stressful interview.

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