Want to prepare for your next job interview?
Start thinking about how you’d fare in a zombie apocalypse.
Sometimes, interviewers just want to get a sense of how well you’re able to think outside the box.
That’s why it’s not too surprising that some of the most successful executives out there like to ask some pretty weird questions during job interviews.
Here are some of those oddball questions.
‘On a scale of one to 10, how weird are you?’
One of Zappos’ core values is to “create fun and a little weirdness,” Tony Hsieh, CEO of the company, tells Business Insider.
To make sure he hires candidates with the right fit, Hsieh typically asks the question: “On a scale of one to 10, how weird are you?” He says the number isn’t too important, but it’s more about how people answer the question. Nonetheless, if “you’re a one, you probably are a little bit too straight-laced for the Zappos culture,” he says. “If you’re a 10, you might be too psychotic for us.”
Another question Zappos usually asks candidates is: “On a scale of one to 10, how lucky are you in life?” Again, the number doesn’t matter too much, but if you’re a one, you don’t know why bad things happen to you (and probably blame others a lot). And if you’re a 10, you don’t understand why good things always seem to happen to you (and probably lack confidence).
‘What was the last costume you wore?’
It doesn’t matter so much what they wore, but why they wore it. If the candidate’s reasoning matches Warby Parker’s core value of injecting “fun and quirkiness into work, life, and everything they do,” they might have a real shot at getting a job there.
“We find that people who are able to make the job environment fun build followership more easily,” the company’s cofounder and co-CEO David Gilboa tells Iris Mansour at Quartz. “If we hire the most technically skilled person in the world whose work style doesn’t fit here, they won’t be successful.”
‘If you were an animal, which animal would you be?’
“The animal kingdom is broad, and everyone can identify with a specific animal they think embodies their own personalities and characteristics,” Stormy Simon, president of Overstock, tells Business Insider.
“There are so many different human traits, where in the animal kingdom they put themselves, and why, really gives insight to the person answering the question. For example, just because you love dogs doesn’t mean you would identify yourself as a dog,” she explains.
Good answers, she says, are where the candidate picks an animal that they think truly personifies the traits that set them apart. “People have often chosen the same animal as other candidates, but the traits they describe have never been the same,” says Simon. But they’re not all good answers.
“One time an interviewee said they identified with a red panda because everyone thinks they are so cute and approachable, but it turns out they’re just really lazy. We hired the candidate anyway despite that answer, but we parted ways within three weeks. It just goes to show how important the question is.”
HootSuite CEO Ryan Holmes also likes to ask candidates, “What’s your spirit animal?”
As he tells writer Jeff Haden, “During her interview, I asked my current executive assistant what was her favorite animal. She told me it was a duck, because ducks are calm on the surface and hustling like crazy getting things done under the surface,” he says.
“I think this was an amazing response and a perfect description for the role of an EA. For the record, she’s been working with us for over a year now and is amazing at her job,” Holmes tells Haden.
‘What do you want to be when you grow up?’
“Good answers are usually about areas in which they want to grow, things they want to learn, things that they feel like they haven’t had a chance to accomplish yet but want to accomplish,” he tells Adam Bryant of The New York Times. “A very short answer to that question would be automatically bad.”
‘What would you do in the event of a zombie apocalypse?’
This seems like a ridiculous question to ask, but it’s posed to every prospective employee at Capriotti’s Sandwich Shop, a national restaurant franchise. Ashley Morris, the company’s CEO, says it’s the best way to learn how candidates react under pressure.
“There really is no right answer, so it’s interesting to get someone’s opinion and understand how they think on their feet,” Morris explains. “The hope is that for us, we’re going to find out who this person is on the inside and what’s really important to him, what his morals really are, and if he’ll fit on the cultural level.”