Larry Polhill | Café Valley | Not Your Usual Interview Questions

Larry Polhill of Café Valley on Out-of-the-Ordinary Job Interview Questions


You’ve done the research, prepared as much as possible, and made sure to arrive on time for your interview. Everything seems to be going smoothly—until the interviewer threw you an unexpected question that stumped you. Consultant Larry Polhill of Café Valley is one such interviewer who likes taking applicants by surprise; asking unusual questions that threw them off guard. It’s a great way to test a person’s ability to rise to the occasion. If you show that you’re not one who easily gets flustered with unexpected curveballs; that you can still keep your wits about, then you most likely just earned your potential employer’s respect.

So when you’re prepping for an interview, it’s best to also psych yourself up for the unexpected questions. What are these unusual and unexpected questions? Below are a few samples that successful and popular CEOs and business owners like to ask their interviewees:

Elon Musk, Founder and CEO of SpaceXand co-founder of Tesla, on Geography and navigating Earth:

“You’re standing on the surface of the Earth. You walk one mile south, one mile west, and one mile north. You end up exactly where you started. Where are you?”

Ryan Holmes, Hootsuite CEO, on supernatural persona:

“What’s your superpower … or spirit animal?”

Laszlo Boc, Google Human Resources, on on-the-spot analytical discovery:

“Give me an example of a time when you solved an analytically difficult problem.”

Ashley Morris, CEO of Capriotti’s Sandwich Shop, on zombie apocalypse:

“What would you do in the event of a zombie apocalypse?”

Randy Garutti, Shake Shack CEO, on looking to the future:

“If we’re sitting here a year from now celebrating what a great 12 months it’s been for you in this role, what did we achieve together?”

These questions may seem extreme but the purpose for these is to find out about the applicant’s character; who they are inside and outside of their work environment. When you take a closer look at these questions, what you’re really seeing are modifications of the more traditional job interview questions on strengths and weaknesses.

Other unusual questions that might be asked may revolve around comparing yourself to an object or something other than a celebrity or popular personality, similar to something along the lines of what type of food you are, or if you were a car what would you be.

The point is that while it’s good to prepare for the usual questions, it’s also a good move on your part to prepare for the unexpected. If you were the interviewer, what questions would you ask? Ask your friends to help you out by playing a game of unusual Q&As.

You could also find out who will be interviewing you so you can do a bit of research on what they like; perhaps the questions will be related to their favorite sport, office rituals or habits.

Got comments about this post? Please feel free to leave them here for Larry Polhill of Café Valley. Rest assured he will get back to you promptly.


Larry Polhill | Café Valley | Interviews from the Applicant’s POV

Larry Polhill of Café Valley on Job Interviews: When the Tables are Turned

Larry Polhill, consultant at Café Valley, published this blog site to help readers with their job interviews and also provide tips on writing their resume. As a consultant, he has had the opportunity to talk to the executive and management teams about their experiences at work, which sometimes included interviewing prospective hires. This got Larry into thinking: “What if the tables were turned? What if it was the interviewee or employer who flubbed the interview process which consequently made the applicant withdraw his or her application or reject the offer?”

We’ve heard quite a few horror stories about job interviews where the applicants failed the interview for one reason or another. But to be fair, there are also stories about interviewers displaying unprofessional behavior where the applicants were short of bolting out the door without a second thought.

When an applicant comes in for an interview, usually, he or she takes this as an opportunity to learn more about the company, especially its culture. It’s also a great way to find out if the applicant’s goals are aligned with the company’s. What kind of vibe does the office have? Do the employees look fairly happy and satisfied or do they look harassed, sleep deprived, or appear irritable? You can see the satisfaction level of the employees by just observing the goings-on while you wait to be called in for the interview.

How do the superiors address the employees? How do they talk to them? What is their body language? These little, seemingly invisible details will become apparent to a keen observer.

During the interview, what usually turns off the applicant are the interviewer’s personal questions; sometimes bordering on being judgmental or nosy.

At other times, the interviewer appears to be so busy that the last thing they want to do is go through the tedious task of interviewing applicants. What happens is that they’re on the computer or on their phone while the interview is ongoing. The applicant feels dismissed even before the interview is over; or they feel disrespected.

Prepare your questions

If you’re an applicant who’s been called for an interview, it’s best to prepare a set of questions you can ask the interviewer about the company. Keep in mind that your purpose for your questions is to learn a bit more about the company, its goals, mission and vision, and what exactly the position entails down to the minutest detail.

To make sure you don’t forget your questions, it’s best to bring the list with you. When the interviewer asks you if you have any questions (they usually do), politely ask if you could refer to your list. This actually shows the interviewer that you prepared for the interview, which could be a plus point for you.

Larry Polhill of Café Valley will update this page regularly; kindly watch out for his upcoming posts on interviews and resume writing. If you have questions or you’d like to share your thoughts about this post or your own interview stories, please feel free to get in touch with Larry Polhill by leaving him a comment below.


Larry Polhill | Café Valley | 5 Tips for Acing a Job Interview

Larry Polhill of Café Valley: 5 Tips for Acing Your Job Interview

Have you ever had the experience of leaving a job interview feeling ashamed and embarrassed for how you conducted yourself? We’ve all been there; and while we can’t turn back time to reclaim our dignity, we can at least make sure that it never happens again. Consultant Larry Polhill of Café Valley shares his tips on acing your job interview in his latest blog post. Please continue on below to learn more about his tips.

Assuming that you’ve already done your research on the company you’re interviewing for, here are a few other things that could help you ace that interview:

1. Greet the interviewer and shake his or her hand with a firm grip. When you’re called for your turn with the interviewer, warmly greet him or her and give a firm handshake. Make sure your hands aren’t clammy! And don’t sit down until you’re asked to. Take note of your posture and sit upright; don’t slouch, swing or shake your legs.

Also, respect the interviewer’s space. This means not putting any of your stuff on his or her desk, not touching anything, and not walking around the room while you’re waiting for him or her to come in.

2. Don’t assume anything. That well-dressed woman you just walked past or the gentleman who held the door open for you could very well be the CEO or the interviewer who’s got the last say about your application; so greet everyone with a warm smile, be polite, and quietly take your seat at the lounge area while waiting to be called.

3. Drop the drinks. Don’t walk in to your interview with a cup of coffee or soda in your hand; not only could it be seen as rude or disrespectful, but you might come off as cocky even if you really just wanted to put something in your stomach before the interview. This brings us to one important reminder: never go to an interview with an empty stomach!

4. Answer all questions properly, accurately, and as politely as possible. There was one interviewee who had the guts to make up a story about a research that she did to impress the CEO. However, when the CEO did a background check on the research, she wasn’t a part of it. Yes, the research existed, but she wasn’t anywhere near it. So make sure that all your answers are truthful and accurate.

5. Never badmouth a past employer. Remember that you’re talking to a potential employer and the last impression that you want to give is that of holding grudges or pointing fingers; the attitude of everything is everyone else’s fault, never yours clearly shows that you’re not a team player, and that you may not take constructive criticisms well.

You will most likely be asked about your past employments and what you can do is to simply talk about your tasks and achievements with the team, and that you want to move towards a different direction which is why you’re looking for other opportunities.

If you would like to add your own tips or share your thoughts about this post, please feel free to leave Larry Polhill of Café Valley a comment below.