If you were a breakfast cereal, which one would you be and why?

How many square feet of pizza are eaten in the U.S. every year?

If you were a crayon color, which color would you be and why?

If you were a pizza delivery man, how would you benefit from scissors?

If you could sing one song on American Idol, what would it be?

These are just some of the “left-field” questions that interviewers may ask to throw candidates off guard. This helps the interviewers to see how quickly you are able to think on your toes, your ability to improvise, and to witness how you handle pressure. These questions are designed to learn more about your personality and your personal thought processes. So, how do you prepare for the unexpected questions in an interview?

If you’re asked an unexpected question, it’s perfectly okay to ask for a moment to think about your answer. This is a much better alternative to nervously spewing out incoherent thoughts. Consider what the interviewer may be trying to learn about you from this question. If you were a cereal, would you be flavorful, bold, colorful, unique, and how would you work together with milk to create a better flavor (think about how you would complement/collaborate well the milk). Use this opportunity to describe your great qualities, and how you could work well with your colleagues, or bring out the best in them.

Keep in mind, there are no right or wrong answers to these left-field questions. Remain cool, calm, and collected, and try to think outside of the box. If the interviewer asks something specific that you legitimately do not know the answer to, such as, “How many engines does a jumbo jet have?” It’s perfectly okay to say, “Honestly, I am not sure. I would be happy to look that up for you and follow up after the interview.” This shows your honest and integrity and willingness to learn. This is better than making something up, and showing that you are unable to admit you don’t know the answer.

Finally, make sure you smile, and have fun with the question. A lot of times these questions are silly, and smiling will show that you’re not taking yourself too seriously all the time. People want to work with and hire employees who they can see themselves getting along with, and who is not always super serious. Answer with enthusiasm; confidence is key in answering these questions. Show that you are not afraid to tackle a problem head on. You can even ask a follow-up question to see how the interviewer would answer the question if you’d like. This shows that you are taking a genuine interest in the company culture, and you want to make sure it’s a good fit on both sides. Additionally, it shows a willingness to learn from others.

Don’t let a left-field question catch you off-guard, or throw you off your game. These questions can be fun and really set you apart from other candidates if handled correctly. Use this opportunity to show off why you are the best fit for the position. For more interview tips or interview coaching click here.