Unusual interview questions that will save you from boring interviews

You’ve had to ask the same bogstandard questions a million times – what are your strengths, where do you see yourself in five years, why do you want to work here?

So far, so average. But what about asking some more unusual interview questions to change it around a bit? You can use some of these slightly off-the-wall questions to gauge more about your applicant’s personality and to get them really thinking about their answers…

Unusual questions

1. How would your existing manager describe you?

Finding out what they think their current boss thinks of them will give you a pretty good indication about what they’re like as an employee. If they say “my boss wouldn’t have anything nice to say”, then maybe cut the interview short.

2. What’s the one thing you would change about your career?

At first glance, this looks like a question designed to trick candidates into having a rant, but we promise it’s not.

3. Can you tell me a joke?

Increasing in prevalence, thanks to shows such as The Apprentice, these questions can be a good ice-breaker, and hopefully help to show an applicant’s personality.

4. Red or blue?

This is a question favoured by Martin Dangerfield from Symantec Corporation, who is aware of the potential dangers: “People think too hard about the answer, desperately trying to fit their pre-prepared response to questions.”

5. If you were a superhero, what would your superpower be?

Got a geeky side that you want to unleash in an interview setting? Now’s your chance.

But why do it?

Asking unusual questions is a good way to get the answers you’re actually looking for, without having to listen to boring, standard answers.

Mike Gorschav from Linea Resourcing Limited uses the questions to try and measure how a candidate is likely to react in the job environment. “When in such situations, an individual’s real values and characteristics tend to be displayed – not their interview persona,” he explains.

You still need to ask the standard questions about relevant experience and qualifications, but if you can turn an interview into something more light-hearted, it’s likely to give both you as a recruiter a better idea of whether or not the candidate is a good fit, and make the interviewee feel at ease, comfortable and actually want to take the job if it’s offered.

Can it backfire?

Yes, of course it can. But, whether you’re an interviewee, or an interviewer, you should be able to learn a valuable lesson, no matter what happens. If you’re a recruiter and you don’t hear the answer you wanted to hear, think about how you’ve worded the question, or whether it’s worthwhile in the first place.

How to make sure your “unusual” question isn’t pointless:

  • Avoid embarrassing questions
  • If it’s a fun question, ask it with a smile to make it clear that it’s light-hearted.
  •  Change your questions based on the different answers you receive.
  •  Have a good mix of traditional and unusual questions, to make sure you’ve covered the basics.

1 Comment

  1. Rachel September 30, 2012 at 12:51 pm

    “Can you tell me a joke?”

    Oh dear. Is it that time again? The economy must be in a worse state than I though.

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