‘How Many Cows Are in Canada?’ The Benefits of Weird Interview Questions

How many cows are in Canada?
'How Many Cows are in Canada?' The Benefits of Weird Interview Questions

Companies like Google, JetBlue, and Dell are notorious for asking strange questions in their job interview process, with examples including, “How many quarters would you need to reach the height of the Empire State Building?” and “What’s your favorite song? Perform it for us now.”

Why would some of the world’s biggest businesses ask such random things? Here’s a look at the advantages of weird interview questions.

They Measure Tact
“If you had turned your cell phone to silent, and it rang loudly despite being on silent, what would you tell me?” Cell phones going off at inappropriate times can be some people’s biggest pet peeves. It’s a growing trend that’s more and more common within society (especially if you’ve ever been to a movie theater). A response to this question might show to the prospective employer how concerned you are with offending other people and whether you would show respect for fellow colleagues.

They Show You Problem-Solve
Sometimes it’s good that you don’t have an answer, as these questions challenge you to figure out how to arrive at a conclusion. For example, “Estimate how many windows are in New York.” This question is about as easy as, “How many grains of sand are there in the world?” You can sketch out for the interviewer the info you would need to know. What section of New York? How many buildings are in this area? In this case, every detail counts, which demonstrates how far you’d go when it comes to tackling an issue.

They Value Honesty
“Have you ever stolen a pen from work?” Seems like an insanely petty question, but the response could determine whether you “man up” to mistakes or not.

They Extract Potential
“How would people communicate in a perfect world?” Questions like this are probably something you’ve never thought about. However, when it comes to being interviewed and pressed to respond, you may come up with ideas that you never thought possible, which demonstrates how well you work under pressure.

They Demonstrate Character
“What do you think about when you are alone in your car?” Creative writers will tell you that the best way to develop a protagonist is to write about what your character would be doing when they are alone. This is a similar question that shows a little bit about yourself to the interviewer, a bit of background that paints a picture.

The Bottom Line
The good news with these kinds of weird interview questions is that there is no wrong way to answer them. Sure, you want to be respectful and courteous (“Are you out of your flipping mind?” is probably the wrong response), but you also just want to be honest and put serious thought into them. The questions may sound ludicrous, but offering a thoughtful response shows you can roll with the punches—something every employer is looking for.