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Five unconventional interview answers that landed a job

Element of surprise

Sometimes, doing the unexpected can score points with interviewers. (Thinkstock)

When it comes to how to ace an interview, plenty of advice books and blogs detail the perfect way to dress, the exact questions to ask and how to best answer every imaginable question. Yet, sometimes, bucking conventional wisdom and saying something completely unexpected pays off — in the form of a job offer.

We searched question and answer community Quora.com to find out the craziest things people have ever said or done and still landed the job. Here are some of our favourite stories.

Showed up to a cancelled interview

Recent college graduate Anna Dearbury had been looking for a job in finance in New York City for a few months with no luck. Finally, she found the contact information for a managing partner at a firm she was interested in. Dearbury landed an interview, only for it to be cancelled, not once, not twice, but several times.

Finally, Dearbury took matters into her own hands.

“I decided to just show up anyway and act like I didn’t know he cancelled,” she said. “I went to [the bank’s] world headquarters, walked through the huge doors with a run in my pantyhose (long story) and stood in the massive lobby looking like the lost 22-year-old mess that I was.”

Thankfully for her, the managing partner not only agreed to meet her, but agreed to help her. “I ended up on the trading floor, and he’s a friend to this day,” she said.

Honest answer to a biggest weakness

Every interviewee hates the “What’s your biggest weakness?” question, but Bob William had an unbeatable answer.

“Cheese dip,” he responded during an interview. “If it’s on the table, I can’t stop eating it.”

After a lot of laughs, the rest of the interview stayed light-hearted and fun. William ended up with the job.

Moo-ving On

Richard Waddington had been at the same company for more than 10 years when he decided it was time to move on. Dressed meticulously in a pressed suit and tie, he was heading out the door for an interview when his daughter gave him a plastic barnyard cow for good luck.

Once at the office, he had a few good rounds of interviews with the company and finally met with the vice president of human resources.

“I hear good things from the interview team, but I do have one concern,” she said, “You look like a pretty straight-laced guy, and, well, things get a little crazy here from time to time.  How do I know you'll fit in?”

Waddington didn’t hesitate. “I have a cow in my pocket!”

He pulled out the cow and set it on the table. The interviewer burst out laughing and he got the job.

Certain about uncertainty

After interviewing with a number of people at one company, Sue Kaufmann finally talked to the vice president under whom she would be working. The vice president asked how she would deal with uncertainty.

“I’m not sure what you mean. Can you explain?” Kaufmann responded.

The interviewer laughed and Kaufmann ended up with the job.

Outsourcing the answer

Many companies ask questions that aim to assess the interviewee’s problem-solving abilities. This was the case when Tim Bushell interviewed for an apprenticeship at the Devonport Dockyard Naval Base in the UK when he was 15.

“If you were home alone, and the toilet overflowed, what would you do?" the interviewers asked.

Taking only five seconds, Bushell ansewered, “Call a plumber.”

Since completing his four-year apprenticeship, he still takes pride in being “a tradesman more likely to use the yellow pages over a wrench.”

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