When it comes to interviewing, most potential candidates have their canned responses prepared for those oh-so-predictable interview questions.
But how well can you really test interviewees when they don’t have to think on their feet?
How can you judge their creativity, world view, critical thinking, and troubleshooting abilities when they know what to expect? The answer: You can’t.
That’s why we’ve put together a list of some out of the box interview questions to ask an employee that can help provide a more well-rounded view of your potential hires’ minds.
1. You’ve seen our work space. What would you change?
An interview question like this one helps you assess the interviewees snap judgement of your workplace culture and environment, while also seeing at what level they’re willing to express their opinions on the spot. Bonus: You might get some great ideas on how to make your office, well…cooler.
2. What weighs more: 100 pounds of feathers, or 100 pounds of quarters?
Answer: They weigh the same (100 pounds.) The question tricks the listener by making them focus on the items themselves, not the fact that the weights are clearly stated. This will test your potential hire’s listening ability and help you judge how carefully they pay attention to details.
3. What’s the funniest thing that’s happened to you recently?
Your interviewee’s answer might expose a character weakness if they start telling you about how they fell down drunk on their front steps, or it might highlight how they can put a positive spin on a less than fortunate event. Either way, this question offers some unique insight into your candidate’s world without crossing any boundaries.
4. Why do you want to work here?
While it seems like a fairly common question interview question to ask an employee, you might be surprised at how many candidates don’t have a polished response prepared. This is a great opportunity to find out how well he/she knows the goals of your organization and how they could help achieve them, or if they’ve forgotten to do their homework.
5. If you won $1 million tomorrow, what would you do with it? Or, if you didn’t have to work anymore, what would you do?
This question will help you better understand the candidate’s values, motivators, interests, and lifestyle. It might also highlight some interesting qualities you can’t tease out with other questions.
6. Can you sell me this pen?
By asking a interviewee to market an ordinary object to you, you can test their quick thinking abilities and see how refined their sales skills are. (They should know this answer if they’ve also seen Wolf on Wallstreet)
7. If a movie were made about your career, what would the title be?
Test how well your candidate can highlight his/her goals, accomplishments, work ethic, as well as how much they can separate their personal life in this storytelling opportunity.
8. What book do you think everyone on our team should read?
You might get some great recommendations while you find out what type of reading material inspires your interviewee. Or if they’re not much of a reader, you can find out if they’re open to suggestions instead.
9. If you were offered this job, what concerns would you have about taking it?
This is a perfect way to coax out some issues that might arise post-hiring if the candidate makes the cut. And if the interviewee can be honest about his/her concerns, you may be able to start out on the right foot together.
10. If you could be any comedian, who would you be?
If a certain sense of humor is an important part of your work culture, this question might help you determine if this candidate will be a good fit. If their answer is Jerry Seinfeld, but your office taste in comedy is more Steve Carrell, this might be an indicator of a poor fit (on a very, very minute scale.)
Keep in mind: we don’t recommend hiring or not hiring based on this question, or any of these questions, for that matter.
Shake Things Up
The next time you interview someone, test out a few of these interview questions to ask that will challenge your interviewee. Make them step outside the cushy “tell me your strengths and weaknesses” zone and push to the dark corners of their interviewing brains.
In fact, you might find that the answers to these questions showcase some interesting strengths and weaknesses all on their own.
Your turn: What’s the strangest interview question you’ve ever been asked?
Photo credit: Marc Wathieu