What Was That? Coping With Off-the-Wall Job Interview Questions

As a step in your legal job search, you’ve prepared for the standard interview questions: Where do you see yourself in five years? What has been your peak work experience so far? What mistakes have you learned from in your career?

But as you work on finding a legal job, are you ready for the questions that come at you from left field? Oddball questions that have you checking the calendar to see if it’s April Fool’s Day?

Read on for reasons employers are asking surprising questions during job interviews -- and tips to help you be prepared.

Increasingly, employers have been exploring the outer limits of job candidates’ preparedness by posing questions as odd as “Who would win in a fight between Spiderman and Batman?” 

Despite what you might think, questions like these are not a sign that you should give up your legal job search or that your interviewer has already written you off and is having a little fun while running out the clock on the interview. Rather, the tactic behind oddball job interview questions is to discover how well you think on your feet -- and to get a glimpse of the real person behind the interview persona, to see how you might fit in with the employer’s workplace culture.

How do you get ready for questions that are designed to catch you a bit off balance and see how you perform under pressure? Don’t stress -- do your homework. Find out as much as you can not only about the company where you’re interviewing, but also about the interviewer. Take a look at the interviewer’s LinkedIn profile if you can. Practice your “elevator speech” about yourself and your work history and goals. Visualize the entire interview process, from the clothing you’ll wear to the way you’ll close the conversation.

And once you’re prepared, try to relax. As Billie J. Watkins, Esq., a district director with Robert Half Legal, advises, when you hear a job interview question you’re not expecting, just be yourself! Be honest. Remember, finding a legal job doesn't require you to check your personality at the door. And after all, there’s no right or wrong answer to a question like “What did you have for breakfast?”