44 Out of the Box Interview Questions and Samples Answers

By Indeed Editorial Team

Published 20 June 2022

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

If you're searching for a job, it's normal to prepare for interviews based on the specific requirements of the role and the employer. Sometimes interviewers can ask you unique questions to test your critical thinking skills and creativity. Preparing for any types of interview questions besides those directly related to your profession can show you're a well-rounded candidate and help you leave a good impression on the hiring manager. In this article, we list several out-of-the-box interview questions and provide tips on how to answer them.

General questions

Here are some general out-of-the-box questions you can expect during an interview:

  1. Tell me about a time a company or job turned out not to be an ideal fit.

  2. What's one thing you excel at but don't want to do anymore?

  3. Who in your professional life helped you become what you're today?

  4. What part of your work don't you enjoy?

  5. What's something you didn't mention in this interview that we're going to find out later if we hire you?

  6. Tell me about a time you failed and why.

  7. Tell me how your values align with our company values.

  8. What excites you most about this company and role?

  9. What was the most embarrassing moment of your career?

  10. Imagine you're the interviewer and I'm the candidate. What are you going to do differently?

  11. How are you going to convince a colleague to work with us?

  12. What does your family love most about you?

Related: 15 Common Difficult Interview Questions (With Example Answers)

Questions about experience and background

Hiring managers can also use out-of-the-box interview questions to investigate your background and evaluate your experience. Here are some examples:

  1. Tell me how this role fits into the bigger picture of our company's strategic objectives?

  2. Describe your team goals in two sentences.

  3. What is your idea of an amazing day at work?

  4. If you were one of our products or services, which would you be?

  5. Imagine you're an animal. Which would you be and why?

  6. If you had limited time and multiple projects, how would you prioritise your tasks?

  7. If you were the CEO of this company, what would you do differently?

  8. Pitch one of our products or services to me as if I'm a prospect.

  9. Where do you think the industry is headed in the next two years?

  10. Describe a time you were treated like a hero in your workplace and why.

  11. What professional or personal mistakes have had the most impact in your life?

  12. How do you feel when a colleague criticises your work publicly?

Related: What Are Scenario Questions in an Interview? (With Examples)

In-depth questions

Hiring managers can also use out-of-the-box questions to further understand your ability to solve problems and respond to different work scenarios:

  1. Are you passionate about your job? Why?

  2. If you're hired, what do you hope to achieve in your first month and year?

  3. Tell me a joke.

  4. What's the riskiest thing you've ever done in your professional or private life?

  5. If you could have a superhuman ability, what would it be and why?

  6. Describe this role to an alien that just arrived on the planet.

  7. If you're given the chance, how would you design the work environment to achieve peak performance?

  8. Tell me about a time a serious limitation prevented you from achieving a personal or professional goal and how you overcame it.

  9. Describe a work experience you never want to go through again.

  10. If you have access to a huge amount of money, say $100 million, how would you use it to turn this business around?

  11. What's the most important professional decision you regret not making?

  12. If your last company's premises caught on fire, who are you going to save last, and why?

  13. We already rejected 15 candidates. What makes you think you can do this job?

  14. Tell me the difference between a rounding error and a cost overrun?

  15. What book do you think can have the biggest impact on everyone on your team?

Related: 19 Types of Common Interviews and How to Prepare for Each

Out-of-the-box interview questions and answers

Here are examples of out of the box interview questions and answers you can use for practice to impress hiring managers:

1. What did you eat for breakfast?

This question can help hiring managers learn about your personality. It can also set a good tone for the meeting, making it feel more conversational. Your response can help showcase your communication skills and highlight your descriptive abilities.

Examples answer: "I had macaroni with ham soup. I paired the meal with a strong cup of coffee and condensed milk. By the way, this is my go-to breakfast. The meal is easy to make and full of energy, so I start the day feeling rejuvenated to achieve the tasks on my to-do list. Plus, it saves me prep time every morning, as I usually make ham soup during the weekend and just microwave a portion to accompany the macaroni."

2. What's one task you love doing every day that you can do for the rest of your career?

Hiring managers can ask you this question to identify what really motivates you to work. Your answer can show them whether you're going to commit to their role in the long term. In your response, you can highlight even more than one activity that gives you fulfilment and provide reasons to support your answer.

Example: "Training other people is something I really enjoy and never tire of doing. As a supervisor, I believe there are going to be many such opportunities in this role. Because of my extensive professional connections, I learn something new every time and I'm always eager to show my colleagues new ways of solving problems and achieving higher performance. It just gives me joy seeing my team crushing their tasks with minimal effort."

3. Sell me this pen

Hiring managers might ask you to try to sell them a common object such as a pen, paperclip or coffee mug to test your ability to think quickly and, if you're applying for a sales job, your marketing skills. When responding, focus on the object's benefits rather than its physical features. Remind yourself that there's no wrong answer to this question and respond with confidence and creativity.

Example answer: "You're in luck. This isn't an ordinary pen. While it looks normal, it's hiding an incredible secret. With just the click of this button, you can turn on and off the ability to read people's thoughts. See, you just click it like this and you're given the gift of mind-reading. When you're ready to mute it, simply click it back off. How would you like to have this superpower at your fingertips?"

4. If I was talking to a former colleague at your previous company, what one thing do you think they'd want you to work on?

Hiring managers can use this question to identify a candidate's self-awareness and ability to take feedback. They can also use the question to make you tell them about your weaknesses and areas where you can use some improvements. Your answer can help the employer determine whether your soft skills are a good fit for their team. In your response, try to assess yourself from a colleague's perspective and be honest about your assessments while demonstrating the steps you're taking to become a better professional.

Example: "If you ask my former colleagues about one of my weaknesses, they'd probably tell you I can use some improvements in the collaboration department. Because of my introvertive nature and back-office role, I prefer working solo, and this can cause some issues during team projects. Thankfully, I'm now a changed person and I enjoy collaborating with others as much as I enjoy working independently.

Taking a public speaking course really helped me because it removed the fear I had of talking in front of an audience. Now, I'm a more confident person in public and contribute significantly to group projects."

Related: 6 Common Interview Questions About Teamwork (With Answers)

5. If you had unlimited money, what would you do with it?

Hiring managers ask questions like this to understand your values, passions, motivations and priorities in life. Avoid generic responses and offer something that shows your long-term goals.

Example answer: "If I had unlimited funds, I would first set aside a certain amount every month to invest in my children's education and future. Then I would spend a couple of months fulfilling one of my lifelong goals, which is to solve the perennial housing problem in my city. Unlimited money would also give me the opportunity to pursue one of my greatest passions in life, which is sailing. I could buy an old sailboat, refit it and hop around the neighbouring islands while snorkelling and diving into the many beautiful marine caves along the way."

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