Using unusual questions to discover more about a job candidate
Seasoned interviewees have heard all of the usual job interview questions under the sun. They have their perfectly formed answers at the ready. And they know how to tell you what you want to hear. This can make it hard for hirers to discern whether or not someone will be a good fit.
So, as a hiring manager, when you’re busy forming interview questions, throw in a few curveballs. By incorporating a few unusual hiring questions into the mix, you can catch a candidate off guard. You’ll be much more likely to get a sense of the “real” candidate.
Time to start firing questions! Here are a few unusual, but insightful, questions to include when conducting your next job interview:
Interview Question #1 What advice would you give to your previous boss?
Employee candidates rarely speak negatively about their previous employer in an interview. It sends out the wrong signals. In which case, this interview question allows them to couch their bugbears as constructive criticism. Plus, it will reveal a lot about how they like to work and their working style in the process.
Interview Question #2 What thing, other than money, would have inspired you to keep working at your current/previous job?
This interview question helps you to tap into a candidate’s aspirations and work priorities. It’s also how you determine whether or not they’ll be a good cultural fit. Make sure you can give them what they’re looking for or it could be that your new employee heads for the door sooner than you’d think.
Interview Question #3 If we’re here a year from now, celebrating your first year in the role, what successes would we be remembering?
The way the candidate answers this question not only reveals their ambitions but also helps to show how much research they’ve done into your company. Their career goals should, for the most part, match up with organisational goals.
Interview Question #4 Tell me 10 unique selling points about this pen.
This is definitely an unusual interview question. But there’s a point! It gets your candidate to think on the spot. You’ll test their creativity and see how they operate under pressure.
Interview Question #5 What were you like as a child?
A personal question that your candidate should be able to answer without too much hesitation. The content of their answer to this question shouldn’t concern you too much. Instead, it’s the delivery that counts and how your candidate relates their childhood self to the person they are today.
Interview Question #6 Tell me about a time you disappointed someone and how you handled it.
A candidate’s answer to this question will reveal what their priorities are. If they talk about their own feelings, rather than the feelings of the person they disappointed and how the situation was resolved, it may be that your candidate will struggle to stand in another’s shoes. So look out for the red flags.
Interview Question #7 How do you define success?
The answer to this question should reveal a lot about a candidate’s life ethos and work ambitions, helping you to establish whether they’d fit in with your company culture.
Interview Question #8 If you were starting a company tomorrow, what would its three core values be?
Again, a question that helps to determine cultural fit. Do the ethics valued by your candidate chime with those of your company? This is a big decider for whether to hire an employee...or not.
Interview Question #9 How do you define hard work?
This is a great question to ask if you’re trying to determine whether your candidate will keep up with the pace at your company.
Interview Question #10 In five minutes, teach me something I don’t know.
This interview question tests a lot of candidate skills – intelligence, eloquence, charm and the ability to think on their feet. If your candidate is passionate and knowledgeable, these could be great attributes to harness in the workplace.
Final words for hiring managers
Don’t be shy. Throw in a few out-of-the-ordinary questions into your next interview. Reason being? Firstly, the answers themselves, because they’re unlikely to have been prepared, will tell you a lot about your prospective employee. And secondly, the way your candidates respond will tell you a lot about how they deal with the unexpected.
Conducting an effective interview is something of an art form. With the right questions and a few curve balls at your disposal, you will be well-placed to discover as much as you can about the person sitting in front of you. And make the best possible for your organisation at large.
Corinne Ledling is a businesswoman who’s very passionate about her job. She’s a Content Manager at Bizstats.co.uk and loves to share career tips and tricks.