Where do you see yourself in five years? What is your biggest weakness? Why should we hire you?
If you’ve interviewed for enough jobs, you’ve probably answered those questions so many times you could do it in your sleep. They’re cliche, they’re predictable, and much of the time, they fail to elicit anything more than a canned response.
Instead, some companies opt for slightly more offbeat interview questions that seemingly don’t have anything to do with the job being offered. CEOs love them because they reveal how creative or quick-thinking a prospective employee might be as a member of the company.
Here are some of the strangest interview questions we’ve come across that, at first glance, seem to have nothing to do with the job:
What are the qualities you like least and most in your parents?
Bob Brennan, the former CEO of records-management company Iron Mountain, said if he could only ask one question during a job interview, he would ask job candidates which qualities in their parents they like and don’t like.
The question is so predictive of the candidate’s personality that the right answer could inspire Brennan to hire them on the spot, he told New York Times columnist Adam Bryant.
“I’ll let the human resources professionals debate whether such a question is out of bounds,” Bryant wrote.
“But I’m hard pressed to think of a better crystal ball for predicting how somebody is likely to behave in the weeks, months and years after you hire them. After all, people often adopt the qualities of their parents that they like, and work hard to do the opposite of what they don’t like.”
Are you the smartest person you know?
This is a question that Oracle cofounder and former CEO Larry Ellison would have college recruiters ask recent college graduates.
It may sound like Ellison was trying to gauge a job candidate’s arrogance. But in fact, he was trying to do the exact opposite.
According to Ellison biographer Mike Wilson, if the candidate answered that they are the smartest person they know, they’d get hired. If they said they wouldn’t, the recruiter would ask, “Who is?” Then they’d try to hire that other person instead.
Wilson said the question exemplified Ellison’s confidence in hiring intelligent people who will challenge him to do his job better.
On a scale from 1 to 10, how lucky are you?
Zappos CEO Tony Hsieh told Business Insider that he usually asks job candidates to rate how lucky they are on a scale from 1 to 10.
While there’s no right answer, Hsieh said either extreme could be a red flag — if you’re a one, you don’t know why bad things happen to you, and probably blame others for your shortcomings. If you’re a 10, you don’t understand why good things happen to you, and might lack confidence.
Hsieh also asks candidates to rate how weird they are on a scale from 1 to 10 to see how they’ll fit in with the company culture (again, he tries to avoid ones and tens).