Interviews should really not be taken too lightly.

They are the difference between success and failure in a recruitment process and can have a massive impact on your career and your life – as well as being incredibly important for the company you’re being recruited for.

Interviewers know this very well, and always expect you to arrive rehearsed, focused, and determined. That’s why they will sometimes throw you a question right out of left field.

Fun and thought-provoking interview questions may appear light-hearted but are a serious attempt to see your thought process in action as you tackle curious questions you couldn’t possibly have prepared for.

These are not like common interview questions, and the actual answer is often entirely irrelevant.

They are designed to test how you respond, catching a glimpse of the unrehearsed candidate in an unguarded moment. The aim is to see beneath the professional mask of the applicant before making a final decision.

By considering these 13 examples, you can get ahead of an interviewer’s attempt to surprise you with weird and unexpected interview questions.

1/ Describe the colour yellow to someone who is blind

This is an impossible task (just try it). But your interviewer will be interested to see how you face the question head-on while still being considerate of the disability of the person you are supposed to be describing to. 

This is an example of a question which challenges you to simplify something extremely complex and put it in your own words.

2/ What would you do if you were the lone survivor in a plane crash?

Used by AirBnB, this curveball is a behavioural question aimed at catching the applicant unprepared with an oft-repeated scenario. You’ve probably thought of the answer before, but not in a professional context.

There is clearly no right or wrong answer, but the interviewer will be keen to see whether you focus on your emotions, practical solutions to your problem, or the chance to start anew, free from the norms and constraints of society...

3/ Are you more of a hunter or a gatherer?

Known to have been asked by Dell, this question challenges you to put yourself in a category. And not one we typically use to separate people in society today.

The recruiter will be trying to judge how nuanced your judgements of different personality types are, and how deeply you think about people with different skills.

4/ What is your karaoke song?

Here your interviewer will be trying to lighten the mood while simultaneously testing how you react to a personal question in a professional setting.

How willing you are to discuss the topic openly will reveal something of your confidence and the line you draw between your private and professional lives.

5/ Who would star in the movie about your life?

Who you choose to star in the lead role may say a lot about your humility and sense of self-worth. It may also reveal whether or not you’ve already drafted a script.

Interviewers will appreciate your ability to take this kind of question with a good sense of humour – while nonetheless offering some reflection that relates to your candidacy, be it through your personality or career plans.

6/ Would you rather fight 1 horse-sized duck or 100 duck-sized horses?

Believe it or not, this question has actually been asked at interviews for Wholefoods.

It’s a good idea not to take this one too seriously. I’m going for the 1 horse-sized duck.

7/ Name 7 uses for this pen

This question is designed to test your resourcefulness and creativity. It could be highly relevant if you are applying for a creative position, and if the company puts a premium on “thinking outside the box”. 

The challenge comes after about the first 3 uses. Thinking of 7 could be a struggle, and that’s the point.

8/ What would you take to a desert island with you and why?

Urban Outfitters has been known to ask this question, which is a measure of both your decision-making and your values.

Whether you go for basic survival tools or personal items will tell the interviewer something of how you think, and what exactly you choose will give them an insight into what is most important to you. It’s a popular question thanks to how much it can reveal about a person.

9/ Do you believe in conspiracy theories?

There are various forms of this one, focusing on specific conspiracies or myths such as the existence of Big Foot or the Loch Ness Monster.

At heart, this is a personal question. Interviewers want to know how you react to being asked about opinions, and about revealing controversial or contestable views which may not be logically thought out or rationally justifiable.

It also poses the question of the distinction between conspiracy theories and alternative viewpoints.

10/ If you were a tree, what kind of tree would you be, and why?

Walgreens is known to have asked this question, which challenges both a candidate’s general knowledge (i.e. actually remembering different types of trees) and their creative approaches to personal questions.

Whatever reasons you can think of for this one will probably reveal a lot about your sense of personal value.

11/ How would you solve problems if you were from Mars?

This question, asked by Amazon, is not really a test of your problem-solving skills (as the problems are unknown). It’s a test of how a candidate can think freely and imaginatively at short notice and under pressure.

Being from Mars could mean you are a completely different species, as well as used to facing different day-to-day issues. How you choose to answer will reveal something of how vast your imagination can be.

12/ Do you consider yourself to be lucky? If so, why?

Airbnb has asked a version of this philosophical teaser in the past. The intention is to try and grasp a candidate’s feelings toward such unmeasurable (and potentially illogical) things as “being lucky”.

How much a candidate has actually thought about the difference between luck happening to someone, and someone being lucky is revealing. As is their approach to answering the question of ‘why’ luck might happen.

13/ What would you do if you suddenly won $10 million in the lottery?

This is a favourite for interviewers keen to unsettle and surprise their candidates.

You’ve probably thought about it before, but the answer most likely involved deciding not to work ever again. As that won’t go down too well in a job interview, you should think of something a little more sensible and long-term – and don’t forget to include reasoning based on your motivation, interests, and career plans.