There is no doubt that preparation is key to having a great job interview. Writing out answers to typical questions and even having mock interviews with friends can make a huge difference in the quality of your responses, your presentation and your confidence.

What about atypical questions?

It’s true that you can never know what an interviewer will ask. He might stick with “What are your weaknesses?” and “Tell me about yourself,” but there is always a chance that a hiring manager has a favorite question that he uses to compare candidates or even a strange question he asks just to see what people will say. We have written about unusual interview questions and how to prepare for them on our blog.

But do strange questions really work?

The consensus seems to be not really.

Google VP Laszlo Bock said in a recent interview that “[t]hey serve to make the interviewer feel smart.” Which might be why they can be frustrating for candidates. From what we have read and experienced, off-the-wall interview questions are more likely to make a candidate uncomfortable than elicit valuable information.

Only in rare cases, at more creative companies, can these kinds of questions really provide valuable insight into one’s ability to brainstorm, concept or work with a team.

Hiring managers have their own style and a company’s culture will be reflected in the questions asked in interviews, whether those questions are traditional or not. Listen carefully, take time to think about your answers and remember that you are interviewing the company as much as they are interviewing you. Most of all–don’t worry about your answers to odd questions. Maybe they were just trying to find out what kind of a tree you are.

Wendy Stackhouse, Consultant for Artisan Creative