How to respond to bizarre interview questions

What would you do if you found a penguin in the freezer?

Would you rather fight one horse-sized duck or 100 duck-sized horses?

When a hot dog expands, in which direction does it split and why?

Know how to respond to these questions? Now imagine answering them during a high-pressure interview.

These are a few of Glassdoor’s top oddball interview questions of 2016, where job candidates across the United States submitted some crazy questions.

They came from interviews at places like Trader Joe’s, Whole Foods Market and Space Exploration Technologies.

That said, as these questions were reported by candidates and not confirmed by companies, it’s hard to know how often they are asked or if they are endorsed by the companies’ human resources departments.

They are used to test people’s ability to think outside the box, based on the creativity of their answers, as well as if they can think on their feet, according to

OU Career Services Consultant Amy Ring said these types of questions are common for employers to ask.

“Normally people are preparing for interviews in a bunch of different ways and rehearse those questions they know they’ll have to answer, and so these questions get to see them in their true element,” she said.

According to The Business Times, they became popular in the 1990s with large technology companies like Microsoft, and then later on with Google.

These questions began as difficult yet solvable brainteasers, but have now evolved into more open-ended ones that don’t necessarily have a correct answer, according to The Business Times. Because of this, both companies have been moving away from them.

Laszlo Bock, Google’s head of people operations, wrote a book called “Work Rules!” in which he discussed how ineffective the questions are.

“At worst, they rely on some trivial bit of information or insight that is withheld from the candidate, and serve primarily to make the interviewer feel clever or self-satisfied. They have little if any ability to predict how candidates will perform in a job,” according to his book.

Regardless of how effective they are, many companies still choose to go the unconventional route.

So how does one tackle these tricky questions if they come up?

Ring said that for a lot of these, there is no right or wrong answer. For the fun personality questions, it is important to have a sense of humor. If it is more of an analytical question, candidates should demonstrate their abilities to think through things.

“It’s great if they can take into consideration the job that they’re applying to and adapt their answer to some degree to what applies to it,” Ring said.

As for any interview question, Ring said it is okay to take a second and think.

“Know that if an answer doesn’t come to you immediately, go ahead and let the interviewer know, ‘Hey, that’s a really great question, I’m going to take a minute to think about it,’ and then come back from that really strong,” Ring said.

To prepare for an interview, Ring suggested to call up friends or family members and have them throw out some crazy questions. She said she has done this before.

“It forces me to be put on the spot with a question maybe I haven’t thought of before and it brings in new perspectives and ideas,” she said.

Ring said that the content of the response isn’t what is most important.

“They’re going to be looking at how you answer versus what the actual answer is,” she said.

Candidates should avoid becoming defensive by pointing out the bizarreness of the question.

“The worst thing you can do is freeze and say that you don’t know. You really want to at least try to come up with something to say,” she said.

Ultimately, just stay positive and have fun with it.