Interview Questions and Answers: The surprise quiz interview question

Some interview questions don't seem related to the actual job. These are often the so called 'quiz' interview questions. They can be about things like 'If you could be any animal, which would you be?', or 'What's the top selling mobile phone, and why?'

These interview questions aren't quite as strange as they seem. Their purpose is as a quality control. Interview answers to questions like these are sometimes quite revealing.

They're also highly competitive, in terms of getting a job. That aspect's of these interview questions isn't obvious during the interview. Some people are almost instantly lost by interview questions which seem to be way off topic. Their interview answers, similarly, are way off target.

Answering the 'surprise quiz' interview questions

These interview questions require a competent, professional, answer. The answer to 'If you could be any animal, which would you be?' isn't a one word answer, like 'An elephant'.

An interview question like that requires attention to content quality. The interview answer should have some sort of some distinguishing characteristic to make it interesting.

The basic rule is 'Whatever the interview question, give a great presentation.'

Making the 'surprise quiz' interview questions work for you

These interview questions are opportunities, if you know how to make them work for you. Salespeople regularly do well in this sort of interview environment. Their interview answers are really sales techniques.

All surprise quiz interview questions have many things in common:

  • They're all neutral subjects
  • They require the interviewee to invent a response.
  • The interview answer can be brief
  • The interview answer is rated on its content

The sales approach to these questions is to literally take the ball and run with it, wherever it goes. Whatever the subject, the interview answer will be a developed version of the interview question, just well presented.

The interview answer is a result of presence of mind. The difference between applicants is often 'Who's thinking on their feet?' and this sort of interview question will definitely find out.


A question like 'If you could be any animal, which would you be?' can lead to something quite complex as an interview answer.

'A bull African elephant in Kenya, with no poachers around in a rainforest, I think. I'd like to be the big guy in the jungle, with no natural enemies. Elephants are a sort of an enigma, too. People know they're big, strong, and intelligent, but they're real individuals. Some people study elephants for their whole lives, they're so fascinated by them.'


This is a bit different from 'An elephant' as an interview answer, isn't it? The interview answer is 61 words long. It takes about 35 seconds to deliver, speaking clearly.

This interview answer demonstrates

  • Ability to extrapolate from a given question
  • Good synthesis of a response
  • Good content quality
  • Ability to improvise

You can see why these interview questions can score well for you.