Interviews tend to be inherently stressful and intimidating for most people, especially when the interviewer throws you a curveball and you freeze. Preparation for interviews is vital, and being prepared for a curveball is just as important as the rest of your preparation. We will discuss Ten Curveball Interview Questions here.
To make it through the interview process successfully and without hesitation will require you, as the interviewee, to be prepared for any question that arises in the interview. This applies even when the question seems arbitrary or appears to diverge from the rest of the questions asked. Often, interviewers will prepare thoroughly for the obvious and predictable interview questions, but what most people forget is the power of the curveball question and just how much it can throw you off if you are not prepared for it. For those still unsure of what a curveball is, the Oxford Dictionary describes a curveball as something that occurs in an unanticipated or interrupting manner. While curveball questions may seem confusing or random at face value, remember that there is always a reason behind every curveball question. Therefore, the way that you choose to answer these questions can reveal to the interviewer a lot about how you think and who you are as a person, even if you don’t realize this at the time. Another reason for curveball questions is for the interviewer to get an idea of how you think on your feet. Still, you can give yourself a competitive advantage by preparing for this interview tactic beforehand. The responsibility falls on you to be prepared for such curveballs, avoid hesitation, and give a thought-out answer when one comes your way in an interview.
Ten Curveball Interview Questions
Naturally, the task of preparing for curveball questions can be overwhelming, and you may be unsure of where to start. This article outlines ten curveball questions, explains the reasoning behind the questions, and gives examples of strategic responses that you can use when confronted with these curveballs.
Curveball 1: If you were a plant, what plant would you be and why?
- This curveball is aimed at discovering what the interviewee thinks their strengths are.
- A strategic response could look as follows; “If I were a plant, I would be a succulent because they are low-maintenance, hardy, and grow to the best of their ability in whichever environment they find themselves in.”
- When answering this question, it is important to ask yourself which qualities you think make up your best strengths. Once you have identified these strengths, choose the strengths that you think would be most applicable to your industry or to the specific position you have applied for. Once you have narrowed down your relevant strengths, try to match those strengths with qualities in plants. For example, if one of your relevant strengths is patience, this could be matched with a palm tree because palm trees take a long time to grow, and thus they are patient growers. With this question, one can think quite literally to get an appropriate answer.
Curveball 2: Name one instance where you felt that you did not meet your own expectations.
- This question aims to establish whether you can realize when you have underperformed or take responsibility for not fully achieving what you set out to achieve.
- A good response to this might be, “When completing my Honors degree, I was simultaneously doing an internship. I underestimated how much time the internship would take, so I did not pay my full attention to completing my dissertation. In the end, my grade was not bad, but I felt I could have done more”.
- When answering this question, it is important to take responsibility for your shortcoming and not blame others.
Curveball 3: Who do you admire?
- This question is all about highlighting your values.
- A good response to this would be, “I admire American actress Viola Davis because she took her situation of poverty and unfortunate circumstance and built the life she deserved for herself through her passion for acting. It takes an incredibly resilient, ambitious person to create something incredible out of very little. It is one thing to build a wonderful life when it gets handed to you on a silver platter, but it is another thing to wake up daily and go the extra mile until you achieve that life for yourself. Money can make life much easier and enjoyable, but it cannot buy integrity and resilience. Those qualities are part of who you are”.
- If this question comes up in an interview, remember that it has been asked countless times before, and therefore it is so important to actively think about your answer and avoid cliché answers such as “my mom” or “Oprah,” etc. Think about someone whose story really speaks to you, and then identify the values that stand out in that person. When choosing your role model, don’t only look at what they have achieved in their career, but also at who they are as a person. Just because someone is successful or famous does not mean that they are an honorable person.
Curveball 4: Why are the covers of manholes circular?
- This is the epitome of a curveball question, and while it may seem very random and confusing, it is more about how you approach the answer than getting the right answer. This question tests your ability to think on your feet and encourages out-of-the-box thinking.
- A good way to approach this answer would be to explain and justify your response. For example, one could say, “I think that the circular shape helps with putting the cover on and taking it off for maintenance. The covers are quite heavy, and so it is easier to roll the cover on its side to put it into place. This would not be easy if it had corners”.
- As mentioned above, this is a tricky question, and most people would not know the answer off the top of their heads. Therefore, it is more important to show that you have thoroughly thought about the question and come up with the most logical answer from your perspective. Justification in your answer is important for a question of this nature.
Curveball 5: How did you manage to get your last job?
- This question is unexpected and aims to understand how the interviewee exists in a professional environment.
- It is important, to tell the truth with this answer and not impress the interviewer by lying about how you managed to secure your last position. An example of this could be “I was attending an alumni event at my alma mater when I began speaking to a fellow alumna about the company she worked for. I mentioned that I was looking for a job as an auditor, and she revealed that their auditor had just gone on maternity leave and that they were looking to hire a stand-in for her. A week later, I had an interview with the CEO, and after a few rounds of interviews, I managed to secure the job a short while later”. This response shows that you are good at networking which is an important skill in any industry.
- You can showcase some of your useful qualities when answering this question. It also grants you the opportunity to reveal your personality through personal experience in a professional environment.
Curveball 6: If you were a color, what color would you be?
- This question reveals what kind of person you think you are and how you describe yourself to others.
- Everyone will identify with different colors for different reasons. An example response could be, “If I were a color, I would be yellow because I am generally a happy person, and I am quite warm and inviting.”
- This curveball is one of the less intimidating ones, and it is quite straightforward if you are prepared for it. Decide on a few prominent characteristics that you possess. Then, do some research on different colors or apply your existing knowledge of colors to decide which one you identify with the most.
Curveball 7: What makes you the best candidate for this position?
- This question tests whether you know your worth, but also if you have a balance between being humble and confident.
- A balanced answer might sound as follows: “Your selection process is quite rigorous, and so I believe that all the candidates, myself included, who have made it thus far, would be a good match for the company. HOWEVER, what I believe sets me apart is my experience with diverse groups of people in the workplace, which I believe to be in line with this company’s focus on inclusivity”.
- It is important to find a good balance, do not rush to answer the question, and put yourself above the competition immediately, but you should also not hesitate too much and underestimate yourself.
Curveball 8: Do you think that you would be able to educate me on something I do not know right now?
- This question forces the interviewee to think on their feet and reveals how they would teach something to someone in a more senior position to themselves.
- An example answer to this could be, “Did you know the first person who ever drove an engine-powered car was a female? Karl Benz, the founder of Mercedes, was too scared to drive his own invention, and so his wife took the reins and took the car for its first test-drive. If you knew that already, I could give you the recipe for my famous choc chip cookies with their secret ingredient”.
- This question allows you the opportunity to use that one arbitrary fact that you know. It is always a good idea to add something unique to yourself (for example, the cookies) because this is something personal, and thus the interviewer is guaranteed to learn something new.
Curveball 9: What is one thing you think our company should implement?
- This question aims to see whether you have done your research on the company and whether you have the ability to problem-solve on your feet.
- Give a strategic response, for example, “Upon researching this company, I noticed that you do not have a Twitter account. It would be beneficial to create a Twitter account as 4 out of your 5 competitors are active on this platform, and they receive a significant amount of interaction with their tweets. There are many benefits, including brand awareness to having a Twitter account”.
- When giving your answer, you mustn’t insult the company but rather provide concrete solutions that would directly translate into improving its current state. The example above is written from a marketing perspective, but your solution could come from your specific field or even your particular role. This is your opportunity to show that you would positively contribute to improving the company.
Curveball 10: Which song best describes how you are feeling right now?
- This is a fun curveball that is meant to be humorous and see if you are self-aware.
- Just be honest in this moment, if you feel nervous, you could say, “A song that best describes how I am currently feeling would be ‘Under Pressure’ by Queen and David Bowie.”
- This is your opportunity to show your sense of humor and how you are truthfully feeling in a lighthearted manner.
Can I prepare for every curveball question?
The answer here would realistically be “no, you cannot,” simply because the interviewer could come up with a curveball on the spot, which has never been asked before. You can, however, prepare to the best of your ability and cover as many curveball questions as you can. If a curveball catches you off guard, pause, think rationally, and respond as best you can.
Dealing with curveball questions in an interview.
At this stage, you should be familiar with the term “curveball” from an interview point of view. Often, interviewers will ask curveball questions to test your thinking on the spot. However, it is possible to prepare for such questions beforehand. If you can train yourself to think out of the box and practice curveball questions, you increase your chances of remaining calm and rational when any curveball question comes your way.
Also read SCHOLARSHIP INTERVIEW SAMPLE ANSWERS