If you were a dinosaur... what would you be?

This is a question that city banks have started to pose to budding candidates at interview. In a bid to gauge a reaction from potential new hires, employers have started to turn to the types of bizarre questions – traditionally associated with the academic interviews of Oxford and Cambridge.

The Sunday Times calls it ‘extreme interviewing’ - and according to research - it’s a superb way of spotting the great from the good. And while previously this questioning style has been the reserve of the Oxbridge interview here in the UK, Google has catapulted it right into the heart of the British workplace.

Speaking on BBC Radio 2’s Jeremy Vine show this afternoon, Chris French a recruitment consultant spoke of how interviewers are increasingly asking questions for which candidates cannot prepare.

Rather than being selected at random, these questions are more about trying to get to know a candidate – to see whether this person is going to be better than anyone else and whether they will fit in with the existing team, company ethic and work culture.

Ultimately, an interview is a 50:50 situation - and while these questions have been devised to get a reaction – they’re also designed to actually get to the heart of how people think. How easily flustered are you? Are you flexible? Can you adapt your way of thinking? Can you use your initiative?

And so – how are you supposed to answer questions like this? Our advice – the key is to break the question down – from the macro to the micro.  And then – if the question allows, try to give some solid examples to support your points. If you can show you can take a big question– and answer it succinctly – you will demonstrate to the interviewer that you have that ability to think logically and calmly - qualities that are essential in the workplace.

Using real examples – that draw on your past experiences and interests – can help you show you have the potential to be their next great hire.

We've put together a selection of wonderfully weird & challenging interview questions:

  • If you were shrunk to the size of a pencil and put in a blender, how would you get out?
  • Is happiness a basis for morality?
  • What is the difference between science and technology?
  • What do we mean when we say someone deserves a reward?
  • Can you teach creativity?
  • What is your favourite television programme & why?
  • We’re in a lift. You have 10 seconds to sell me this biro.
  • Are big or small companies more successful?
  • Summarise economics into one word
  • If you were a superhero – what would your power be?

Oh – and as to a question you could pose to an interviewer?

Chris French speaking on the BBC today said a good question is ‘What is your staff turnover?’ – as a question like this can help you to find out whether the organisation you’re interviewing for is a happy place – and one in which you might like to work.

Next: Common Interview Mistakes and How to Avoid Them