It’s a conversation topic you’ve probably discussed in animated fashion with friends or your significant other: super-human abilities. What superpower would you have and why? Would you pick a physical skill, like the ability to fly? Or would you prefer an intellectual capability, like reading minds?
Not only are superpowers fun to talk about, but the power you choose also says something about you as a person, and that’s exactly why this kooky question might come up in a job interview. We’ll explain what interviewers are really digging for when they ask you to pick a superpower and arm you with the answer you need to make a lasting and positive impression.
Why do interviewers ask what superpower you’d choose?
Like other creative interview questions, this topic is just as much about how you answer the question than the actual content of your answer. Interviewers know it’s an offbeat subject, so they want to see how you react in the moment when faced with something a little surprising. Whereas answers to typical questions like ‘tell me about your strengths’ can feel scripted, this one tends to elicit a more impromptu response.
Interviewers also ask this question to get a sense of your personality. It’s the same reason you discuss wacky “would you rather…” questions with friends–it’s fun to hear what each person chooses. Your answer gives the interviewer a glimpse of who you are beyond the list of skills on your resume.
What interviewers are looking for when they ask you to pick a superpower
Interviewers pose creative questions like this one to give you a challenge. They want to know that you’re able to think on your feet, which is a valuable quality in a job candidate. A strong answer can indicate that you’re adaptable and able to perform well even in unfamiliar and unexpected situations.
A question about your superpower can be a tool to assess your creativity. In positions requiring a high level of original thinking, like design jobs, interviewers will be looking for a unique answer demonstrating how inventive you are.
Asking a question about superpowers can also be a strategy for switching gears, like if the interviewer wants to shift a serious conversation to a lighter, more casual one. In this case, they’ll be looking for you to go with the flow and transition naturally to a different subject.
How to answer the interview question ‘What superpower would you have and why?’
Assess their motive
The first thing to do is consider why the interviewer is asking this question. A company like Google that’s known for seeking out unique, highly creative applicants is more likely to ask nonstandard interview questions for strategic purposes, to identify candidates with outside-the-box thinking.
At a small business, on the other hand, the question may genuinely just be meant to break the ice. In this case you can have a bit more fun with your answer and focus on building rapport with the interviewer rather than proving your aptitude.
Come up with a few options
To ensure you’re armed with the right answer when the time comes, consider a few variations you can use to showcase different qualities, like your technical skills, creativity, or leadership capabilities. That way during the interview, you can select the most appropriate answer based on the direction of your conversation and what the interviewer seems most interested in.
Connect it to the position
This question can be a bit tricky because there’s a fine line between giving an authentic answer and seeming as if you’re trying too hard. So, you’ll need to use your best judgment to assess what kind of answer the interviewer is looking for.
If they seem zeroed in on talking about your skills, it’s a good idea to give an answer that pertains to the job. For example, suppose the position requires managing many different remote teams. In that case, you might say you’d choose the ability to teleport so you could more easily collaborate with all of your colleagues face-to-face.
How not to answer
Fall to cite a reason
Remember that there are two parts to this question. You’re being asked to choose a superpower AND state the reason for your choice. The reason is arguably more important than the superpower itself. If you don’t give a concrete, logical explanation, it’s a missed opportunity to use this question to emphasize your aptitude for the job.
Sample answers to ‘What superpower would you have and why?’
“I would choose the ability to read minds. Since this position works with high-value clients, I could anticipate their needs and make sure we were always one step ahead on providing the best service.”
“Superhuman strength would really come in handy with some of the large-breed dogs we care for. No matter what type of dog it is, I would be able to lift them onto the exam table and help them in and out of the car. I could do the job of two vet techs, leaving more employees free to care for other patients.”
Take the question as seriously as you would any other, but don’t be afraid to show a bit of your personality or give an unusual answer. As long as you’re able to explain your decision, you’ll show the interviewer your ability to think on your feet while highlighting your creativity.