Answering Strange Interview Questions for Mental Health Employment

When you are looking for mental health employment opportunities in the substance abuse field, you will likely go on several interviews and there is always the possibility that some of those will be less than conventional.  The kiss of death in a job interview is to either just sit in silence after a question is asked or to say the dreaded 3 words: “I don’t know”.  You may run across some strange interview questions that you’ll need to be prepared to address and others that you may simply not know the answer to.  We hope to give you some guidance on how to handle these situations.

Answering Strange Interview Questions

Whether it is because they want to see how you think on your feet or they are just sadistic, some hiring managers love to throw out zingers mental health employmentthat are sure to knock just about anyone for a loop.    The biggest theme is “If you were a … what would you be, and why?”  For example:  “If you were a superhero, who would you be, and why?”, “If you were a food, what would you be, and why?”, “If you were a color, what would you be, and why?”  Get the drift?  In these example, your choice of color, food or superhero doesn’t matter as much as the fact that you pick one, do it quick and explain why you picked it.   For example,  I would be batman because, while he doesn’t necessarily have superpowers, he is innovative in using all of the tools at his disposal to give him an edge and to help others.

Other strange questions may not have an aim to them at all and you will, again, need to be quick and come up with some way to answer them in a positive manner.  Some examples are:

  • “If you could sing one song on American Idol, what would it be?”  (pick something inspirational).
  • “Do you believe in bigfoot?” (just defend your answer)
  • “What is the funniest thing that happened to you lately?” (be selective with this one)
  • “If you were standing naked in a shop window holding a sign that said only one word, what would that word be?”  (Mine is “surrender”.  I’d love some suggestions on others)

Answering Questions When You’re Stumped

Stupid questions aside, there may be some valid questions that you simply don’t know the answer to or have let the stress of the interview get to you and have drawn a blank on something that you should know.  Here’s how to handle those situations.

  • Remain Calm.  Getting worked up is only going to make matters worse, it will show on your face and in your body language and the game will be up.  If you don’t know the answer, there’s nothing you can do about it so keep moving forward.
  • Don’t Bluff.  Never make things up, lie or say “I don’t know”.   You don’t want to be seen as someone who has thrown in the towel in the first 30 seconds of a difficult situation.
  • Ask questions.  This could be stalling but it can also help a great deal.  You may simply have not understood the question so ask the interviewer if they could clarify or re-word the question for you, giving you some more details.
  • Tell Them Something.  If you have any knowledge on the subject, this would be the time to cough that up and you may be able to work your way towards the answer.   If you don’t feel like you’ve come close enough, let the interviewer know that you’d like to get the answer for them and when and how you intend to do that.
  • Follow up.  Send a follow up email after the interview and treat this as the second chance that it could be.  Don’t dwell on it but mention the question and the “additional solutions” that came to you after some more time and thought.

Some interviews for mental health employment opportunities are easier than others.  If you find yourself in one with tricky or difficult questions, consider our tips to get you through to the next step.

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