How do you get a giraffe into a fridge?

  | James Innes

How do you fit a giraffe into a fridge? This sounds like a stupid question but actually it has been asked in a real live interview by the Swiss bank, UBS. It is just one of the weird and wonderful questions that some organisations like to throw at candidates in interviews, and which are featured by James Innes, best-selling author and the founder of the CV Centre in “The Interview Book” and “The Interview Question & Answer Book”.

Such questions, which, in most cases, have no right or wrong answers, are designed to test the ability of candidates to think on their feet and to test how they react under pressure. In his books, James deals with a number of such examples from real life, provides insights into the motivations behind the questions, and gives suggested solutions how you might answer a similar question if asked.

So: How do you fit a giraffe in a fridge? (alternative or related questions: how many hippos can you fit into a Mini?)How do you get a gorilla out of a fridge?)

What is the meaning behind the question?

Answering this type of question is very much about showing your mental agility and flexibility. The interviewer wants to hear the reasoning behind your answer and how you reach your conclusion.

Your answer

There are in fact several ways of answering this question which will be perfectly acceptable to the interviewer. As always, take a deep breath and, although it may seem absurd, try to approach the question logically. You can begin by asking the interviewer:

Is it a baby giraffe or is it fully grown?

How big is the fridge?

Does the giraffe need to be alive once it’s in the fridge?

What tools do I have at my disposal?

This will show the interviewer that you recognise the first step in solving a problem is to establish the facts – before you make any decisions or draw any conclusions. Considering the possible answers to these questions, you could conclude that it is perfectly possible to fit the giraffe alive in to either a very large fridge or, if no longer alive, into a smaller one!


If it was a baby giraffe, it didn’t need to be alive once it was in the fridge and, of course, it was a big enough fridge then, assuming had the necessary tools to hand, I’d just need to cut it up.

Here is another example. Macquarie Bank asked the following:

How many ways can you get a needle out of a haystack? (alternative and related question: How many ways can you find a lost ring on a sandy beach?)

Many of these questions may seem nonsensical and to have no place in a serious interview. However, the fact that major employers are asking such weird and wonderful questions of candidates suggests that they see value in them. So, if you are asked something out of left field, take a moment, apply logic to your answer and show that you are prepared to deal with the unexpected.

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