Preparing for a job interview is nerve-wracking enough without the unsettling sense that an interviewer might ask a question you aren’t prepared to answer. It’s those unusual, hard-to-prepare-for questions that we all dread.

But if you’ve ever been caught off guard in an interview, you’re not alone. According to Lynne Sarikas, director of the MBA Career Center at Northeastern University’s business school:

The interviewers are trying to catch a glimpse of the unrehearsed candidate in an unguarded moment….Some interviewers also ask unusual job interview questions to gain insight into the candidate’s thought processes…they want to see how the candidate will think about the unusual job interview question.

Off-the-wall questions allow candidates “to demonstrate quick thinking, poise, creativity and even a sense of humor,” Sarikas says. For example, an interviewer may ask:

  • How do you I rate as an interviewer?
  • If you were a salad, what kind of dressing would you be?
  • In the news story of your life, what would the headline say?

Can’t imagine answering those in a high-pressure situation? What about these ones, from Glassdoor’s list of the Top 25 Oddball Interview Questions of 2011?:

  • Just entertain me for five minutes; I’m not going to talk. (Acosta)
  • What do you think of garden gnomes? (Trader Joe’s)
  • Does life fascinate you? (Ernst and Young)

Hmmm…Does life fascinate an accountant? I suppose there are lots of ways to answer that!

What’s the weirdest interview question you’ve ever been asked? We promise you won’t hear anything too weird at the WNY Diversity Job Fair at the Buffalo Niagara Convention Center on Wednesday, September 16.

Contributed by Julie Allen