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Odd Interview Questions

Odd Interview Questions

By Matt Lowney


From time to time you will encounter an unusual question during an interview. How you handle these curveballs can go a long what in determining whether you land the job. Most hiring managers have gotten away from these types of questions because of company policy. However, some interviewers will still throw in an odd interview questions to keep you on your toes or to see how you react under pressure, especially if you seem over-prepared for the interview.


In almost every case, the hiring manager is looking to see how your think on your feet and judge your ability to think through an answer. Most of the time there is no right or wrong answer to these types of question. The interviewer is looking for your ability to explain your answer and your thought process in getting there. Below are a couple of examples of these types questions and some recommended strategies in dealing with them.


Why is manhole cover round? This is perhaps the grand daddy of all interview questions that fall into this category. The answers can be varied, but here are a few suggestions: The holes they cover are round. Manhole covers are heavy, so being round makes them easy to transport because they can be rolled. Or, manhole covers are round because they are cheaper to make than a square manhole cover.  There are dozens of variations on this type of question. While your first reaction might be to say, “What do manhole covers have to do with this job?” you should make sure that you treat the questions seriously.  


Sell me this pen (or any other object in the office). While this type of question is most often utilized when interviewing for a sales position, some managers will ask this question of candidates regardless of the position they are interviewing for. Basically the manager is trying to get feel for how you think through the sales process. 

My best suggestion would be to ask, “What are you looking for in a pen?” Then you should formulate your sales presentation based on what they are looking for in a pen. In addition, they may ask you to overcome an objection. For example, the hiring manager might say that she would like a pen with blue ink, but your pen is black.You should simply make sure to state that while blue is a fine color, black also has advantages that you may not have considered. The manager is checking to see that in your sales presentation you do not bad mouth your competition just to make your product look good.


Matt Lowney is a Nashville, Tenn based recruiter, career consultant, and co-host of Career Talk, a weekly one hour career advice radio talk show that airs from 5 to 6 pm each Friday on WAKM 950. For more information he can be reached at

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