I think almost everyone can recount some unexpected interview questions that caught them off guard and became the most memorable part of a job interview. You know, those non-traditional questions like “If you could be doing anything, what would you do?”, or “If you could have any super power, what would it be?” Truth be told, these types of unique, thought-provoking questions often lead to the pivotal point in a job interview where even the most prepared, well-rehearsed candidates drop their guard and begin to reveal more about themselves than they may have anticipated.
Interviewing strategically using some unexpected interview questions can help the hiring manager dig deeper to find the best candidate for the job. These types of questions break the rhythm of the interview and allow unique qualities to be revealed. Such traits could be essential to the position, such as interpersonal skills, management style, integrity, and the ability to work with others.
After polling co-workers and industry peers, I have come up with a list of ten unexpected interview questions that tend to reveal the true candidate:
- Think back to a previous boss that was difficult to work with. Share what qualities you disliked and how you handled working with him or her.
- Describe the riskiest thing you have ever done.
- What are the first five things you do at work each day?
- Tell me about a role model and why you look up to that person.
- To better serve our customers, sometimes we promise more than we can deliver. Tell me about a time when you overcommitted yourself or the company? What happened?
- Tell me about a time you did the right thing at work and no one saw you do it.
- What was a situation you handled poorly in the past and how would you handle it in the future?
- What do colleagues say is your best quality?
- What one skill do you possess that will most impact our bottom line?
- Explain how you will add value to our company if hired.
The goal of asking creative interview questions is not to stump your applicants, but to get a better sense of who they are and the true fit they would be for the position and the company.
And a word of caution: Remember to keep the use of non-traditional interview questions within the protected class and legal hiring guidelines.
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