Why You're Getting Weird Questions at Job Interviews

NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- "Curveballs" just aren't for baseball players -- they can be for job interview applicants too.

Employers like to surprise job applicants with questions that can come out of nowhere and be downright weird in their phrasing -- making answering those questions more difficult, and maybe making it harder to land the job.

The job site Snagajob.com has a good handle on those questions. In a recent survey, the company asks: "What's the weirdest question you've ever been asked on a job interview?"

Here are some of the top responses:

  • "If you were a breakfast cereal, what would you be and why?"
  • "How would you explain what a chair is to an alien?"
  • "If you could be a plant, what plant would you be?"
  • "If you had to make a shoe with anything in this room, how would you make it?"
  • "How would you explain Facebook to your grandma?"
  • "Do you think there is any hope for mankind?"
  • "If you were a fruit, what fruit would you be?"

The questions may seem like they come out of left field and serve no useful role in the job interview process, but there is method to employers' apparent madness.

"As bizarre as they may seem, the 'what would you be' questions do have a purpose," says Jason Hamilton, vice president of marketing at Snagajob. "Employers want to know if you can think fast on your feet to handle unexpected customer interactions. Which plant or breakfast cereal doesn't matter as much as your reason why you've selected something."

Hamilton says the best tactic for job-seekers is to expect the unexpected and focus on how the question relates directly to your job.

"An employer might ask 'What kind of breakfast cereal would you be' to get a feel for how you react to the unexpected," Hamilton says. "They want to see that you can recover from being a bit flustered. As the job-seeker, what counts is not exactly a 'right' or a 'wrong' answer, but how you explain your choice. For example, if you were applying for a job at a toy store, you might want to choose a breakfast cereal that appeals to kids, demonstrating you understand what makes the store's customers happy. In that scenario, Cocoa Puffs is a better answer than All-Bran."

So expect the unexpected when sitting down to a job interview. A weird question can be a great gateway to a job offer.

If, that is, you're creative and focused in answering the question directly as it relates to your job