How to answer those not so typical questions in interviews

job interview, handshake, two women shaking hands, weaknessThere’s a lot of unknown when it comes to job interviews. While some candidates might believe that they have mastered the art of preparation, this isn’t always the key to success.

Some interviewers will pride themselves on creating scenarios that their prospective employees couldn’t have anticipated for, allowing on the spot creativity to shine through. Therefore, these ‘curveball’ questions are actually a good identifier of a candidates ‘candid’ abilities, but interviewees shouldn’t see them as daunting.

Bethanie Dennis, Senior PR and Content Manager at the Newcastle based search agency AGY47, provides her perspective on the matter.

Know your room

As creative content service providers, we are inclined to think outside of the prescribed interview structure. Our recruitment process reflects the fact that our industry is constantly looking for new innovators to get involved with new campaigns, so an important element of hiring anyone is seeing how they respond to some of our more rogue questions.

For example, we often ask candidates how many balloons could we fit into the room, or what the last gift that they gave someone was. While people can’t prepare for this, it’s important for us to include a creative element into recruiting new faces.

An interview should flow just like any normal conversation, but some candidates can get caught up in overthinking each question. I think it shows a lot of confidence when people aren’t afraid to stop momentarily before answering, as it can be the opportunity they need to process the question fully and gather their thoughts. A strong response is an informed one, so don’t shy away from building your line of thought fully instead of blurting an answer out.

From a company’s perspective, we’re far more interested in you being able to demonstrate how you think rather than rushing through questions. Take your time with it!

Again, pausing before you respond to a question or thinking out loud isn’t necessarily a bad trait. Sometimes, the pressure of an interview can knock your train of thought slightly, and you might be in need of a quick breather to consider your response. Pausing or thinking out loud will not detract from the answer that you give, and it won’t make you any less of a strong communicator.

Bring your quirks

For me, it’s important that the people I hire will gel with our existing company culture, so letting your personality shine through each question will give us a better impression of candidates. If this means bringing an anecdote or two into the conversation then go for it — as long as it puts you in a good light!

Interviews don’t have to be over-the-top formal in our industry, so I think it’s great when candidates come in and set the tone by adding their own quirks to the conversation.

While you should remember to try and keep any references relevant, adding your personality to an interview can help to make you overall more memorable for us when it comes to selecting the person for the job!

You can never be too curious

While the purpose of an interview is for a company to learn more about its job hopefuls, it doesn’t have to be as one sided as this. If you’re curious in an interview, then you should voice it!

We like having our own questions directed back at us, as it shows a genuine sense of interest from the person we’re interviewing and it can make the dynamic flow a lot more naturally. Ask me if I actually know how many balloons would fit in the room, or what the last gift that I got someone was, and I’ll be impressed! Any general questions about the company are good indicators of interest in the role and confidence — so don’t shy away from quizzing us!

Interviews can be panic inducing, but often once the first few minutes have passed, candidates settle into the flow. So, take your time to answer each question properly, don’t be afraid of stopping to collect your thoughts, and allow your personality to lead the conversation!

Bethanie DennisAbout the author

Bethanie Dennis is a Senior Digital PR and Content Manager at AGY47, a marketing agency focused on activating sales growth for ecommerce brands. She also runs The Weekly PR, a weekly newsletter that sends all of the latest successful brand campaigns and best digital PR articles to your inbox. When she’s not thinking of creative campaign ideas for clients, you can find her cooking up a storm in the kitchen, or in a heap on the floor at her CrossFit gym.

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