Think Outside the Box with Job Interview Questions

In many industries, the job interview process has become a game of sorts. Books and websites are filled with tips for applicants on how to best answer common questions. Type the phrase “answers to job interview questions” into a search engine and you will instantly receive millions of results.

That means job candidates can easily respond to common questions such as “Tell me about yourself,” “Where do you see yourself in five years?” and “Why should we hire you?” Although these are perfectly reasonable inquiries, many applicants anticipate them and have rehearsed answers at the ready.

To improve the odds that you will find the optimal candidate, employers may want to devise a few questions that applicants may not expect.

Unexpected Questions
A couple caveats up front: 1) Asking inappropriate questions in a job interview can land an employer in legal hot water, so vet your creative queries with a qualified employment attorney, and 2) Getting a little too creative and asking preposterous questions can give interviewees a misleading or bad impression of your organization.

That said, here are some examples to consider:

  • What if, five minutes after this interview ends, you learn you have won $25 million in the lottery. What would you do? Purpose: To learn about the applicant’s interest in the position, as well as their values and passions outside of work.
  • Do you believe in life on other planets? Purpose: To get a feel for whether the candidate believes that things not known may still be possible.
  • If you could be a fictional character from your favorite book or movie, whom would you be? Purpose: To gain insight into what drives the applicant intellectually, as well as to learn about their outside interests and imagination.
  • You can have dinner with any well-known historical figure. Whom would you choose and why? Purpose: To get a sense of a candidate’s priorities and how an applicant views themself in the wider context of history.

Asking creative questions such as these — or others you come up with yourself — can push job candidates out of their comfort zones and get them to speak extemporaneously. In turn, you will get a better impression of their real personalities and potential.

Mix it Up
Of course, you should not completely forego some of the standard questions that applicants will likely be prepared for. If nothing else, you will learn what the candidate thinks you want to hear, and you can determine how much preparation they put into the interview.

By mixing up questions, from the expected to the creative, you will gather more information and put yourself in a better position to hire successfully.

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