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Unique Interview Questions to Catch Interviewees off Guard

Author: Dave Rietsema - Matchr CEO

When you are interviewing someone for a new job, of course, you want to make sure that they are competent and skilled enough to do the job. However, you also want to make sure that they will be a good fit within the company culture and be able to handle unexpected situations. To get a feel for an interviewee’s personality and ability to respond to unexpected challenges, it is important to ask some questions that may seem strange to catch the interviewee off guard.

Of course, the questions that you ask should have some ultimate purpose. It is also important to make sure that the questions that you ask aren’t perceived as condescending or stereotyping, such as asking a female candidate about fashion when it is of no relevance to the job. The following are several off-the-wall questions that interviewers have recently asked to gain greater insights into job candidates’ personalities.

Why Should You Ask Unique Interview Questions?

Applicants interviewing at your company will hopefully have prepared for the interview. Many will have pre-prepared answers ready for the most common interview questions. This means that if you ask standard questions, you may get standard answers. You may not necessarily get to know the real candidate and how they think. You’ll also get a good sense of that candidate while they’re prepared, but not how they think on their feet.

Crazy interview questions can be a great way to get candidates to show you their ability to think outside of the box as well as on the fly. Plus, random interview questions can help you learn about characteristics that aren’t shown in the candidate’s resume and cover letter. Odd interview questions may also show a candidate’s thought process. 

If your questions aren’t standard, then you won’t get the same responses from every candidate so you can more easily see how they differ from each other.

Weird Interview Questions

Weird interview questions can be a way to see how candidates think on their feet. These questions won’t have been on any list of standard interview questions, which means that candidates can’t have prepared for them in advance. While it’s a good thing when candidates are prepared, you may also want to see how they react when they are asked a question they can’t have prepared for.

Who Would Win in a Fight Between Batman and Superman?

This may seem like a question best suited for comic book creators or cartoonists, but it was actually asked by an interviewer at the website building company Squarespace. While the question is undoubtedly bizarre, it can work to show an interviewer whether the candidate has a sense of humor and how creative they are. The speed with which the question is answered and the reasoning behind their answer can also show an interviewer how decisive a candidate is and how well they are able to defend their decisions.

If You Could Be Any Vegetable in the World, What Would You Be?

This question was asked in an interview for a major law firm. This question may help to gain insight into a job candidate’s likes, dislikes, and tendencies. If an interviewee chooses a vegetable for its ability to fight disease or provide nutrition, it may show different priorities than when an interviewee chooses a vegetable for the way that it looks or its native climate.

What Did You Have for Breakfast?

Asking what a candidate had for breakfast can give a little insight into whether an employee is likely to be prepared for the day ahead if the interview takes place in the morning. It can help the interviewer to gauge whether a candidate is on track with goals if the company is in the health or fitness industry. This particular question was pulled from a Banana Republic interview, so it may have also helped the interviewer to gauge whether the employee candidate had a sense of humor and could interact well.

What Would You Do If You Were the Sole Survivor of a Plane Crash?

Airbnb asked this question, but it could be relevant to almost any occupation. The ability to respond to a crisis with poise and to determine rational next steps can be helpful whether the position is for a sales associate or a neurosurgeon. This question may even help to determine whether a candidate has management potential.

Funny Interview Questions

Interviews aren’t the most relaxing events. Candidates may be nervous and may have memorized answers to possible interview questions in order to prepare. This can result in similar interviews between candidates. Asking hilarious interview questions instead of the standard ones can lighten the mood and prompt candidates to respond with more interesting answers. Plus, funny interview questions can give you insight into how well the candidate will fit in with the company’s culture.

How Would You Solve Problems If You Were From Mars?

This question was asked in an interview at Amazon. The purpose of this question is to measure problem-solving ability. It asks the candidate to think about how they would think through a problem if they were from a different planet. There isn’t necessarily a right answer to the question. But it can show you if a candidate is able to try to think in different ways to solve a problem.

If You Were a Tree, What Type of Tree Would You Be?

Walgreens asked this question of its interviewees. The idea is to see how creative your candidate can be. It’s a way to ask about a candidate’s strengths and weaknesses indirectly. There’s no one correct answer, but candidates should be able to highlight why they chose the tree they did in a way that shows you how they’re a good fit for the job opening.

Who Is Your Favorite Disney Princess?

Cold Stone Creamery asked this question in order to gauge an interviewee’s playfulness and personality. If interviewees roll their eyes and disregard the question, they may not be a good fit for a company where many of the customers are children and the atmosphere is supposed to be lighthearted. If they can engage in a silly conversation and have fun with it, they may bring joy and fun to the workplace.

How Would You Get an Elephant into a Refrigerator?

This question provides your candidates with an opportunity to get really creative. Obviously, an elephant is too big to fit into a refrigerator normally. But there are a wide variety of different creative solutions to the problem. This question lets your candidates showcase their creative thinking skills.

Interesting Interview Questions

Interview questions don’t necessarily have to be weird or funny to be different and thought-provoking. The intention behind interesting interview questions is to get candidates to think outside the box and to think on their feet. Depending on the job the candidate is interviewing for, there may be specific answers you’re looking for. You’ll want to choose questions that give candidates a chance to show you their thought processes as they solve the problems the questions ask.

Why Are Manholes Round?

Swiss investment bank UBS asks this question for candidates interviewing for their Operations division. There is actually a correct answer for this one. A manhole cover can’t fall through the manhole if both are round. The question tests the candidate’s ability to think through solutions.

If German People Were the Tallest in the World, How Would You Prove It?

Asking questions with no one right answer can result in very interesting answers. A question like this is designed to test a candidate’s ability to problem-solve. How a candidate would go about proving that German people are the tallest can show their investigative skills and thought processes.

If You Were on a Deserted Island and All Human Needs Were Taken Care of, What Two Items Would You Bring With You?

This question looks for what a candidate values. What are the two most important things to that candidate once their basic human needs, such as food, water, and shelter, have been met? A candidate that would want a boat is a very different candidate from one who wants an e-reader with unlimited books.

What Is the Color of Money?

This question is asked by PolyOne in interviews with financial candidates. The most obvious answer is green. However, candidates who can think beyond the most obvious answer would say that it actually depends. Even in the United States, money can be both coins and bills, which are different colors. Internationally, money varies widely in color. Euros are green, orange, blue, yellow, or purple depending on the denomination. Yen are blue, purple, or green. The answer to this question can show you how much experience a candidate has with the world outside of their own country.

Are You a Hunter or Gatherer?

Dell and other companies use this question to assess candidate strengths and weaknesses. Both hunters and gatherers have valuable strengths, but each may be best suited for different positions. For example, a position involving a lot of research may be better filled by someone who describes themselves as a gatherer while a sales job may be better suited to a hunter.

Is your company looking for a HRIS to manage the interviewing and hiring process? We can help you find the right software. Stop by our vendor match page to get started today.

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