Are you asking unique interview questions?
Or, just the same old, everyday, run-of-the-mill ones?
Unique interview questions are designed to probe beneath the surface to get you the valuable knowledge you require to make the best hiring decisions.
In this article, you’ll learn what the most common interview questions are, why you should ask unique questions, the uncommon questions you should be asking candidates, and so much more!
Common interview questions
Here's a smattering of the interview questions most employers ask:
- Tell me about yourself.
- What are your strengths and weaknesses?
- Where do you see yourself in half a decade?
- Why did you apply for this position?
- Why are you leaving your current employer?
- Do you have any questions for me?
Although these questions are essential, you'll want to create ones that are a little more unique than this. Many applicants have gone through the interviewing process multiple times and have heard the same questions repeated ad infinitum.
When they hear a question for the umpteenth time, their eyes glaze over.
They might even tune out.
That’s why you need to ask unique questions. These are questions that make a person think and are individualized based on what your company is really like.
Unique interview questions to ask your candidates
Ordinary questions are good for ferreting out basic information.
But if you want to go light years beyond that, ask your applicant some uncommon questions. Just remember brain teasers—like Google and other tech companies used to be known for—probably won't provide you with the useful information you need to make sound hiring decisions.
Ask questions that reflect your idiosyncratic workplace culture and let you know what it might be like to have the person working for you.
Uncommon interview questions can test a candidate's ability to think on his feet. Keep in mind everything you ask needs to be purposeful and not just for your personal entertainment.
A few caveats:
- Never ask questions that make your interviewee feel uncomfortable
- Don't ask questions that are inappropriate, discriminatory, or refer to a candidate's protected class information (gender, race, age, ethnicity, etc.)
- Always try to have fun with candidates because humor can relieve jittery nerves
The Curveball Question
Some jobs require employees to be quick or creative on their feet. Curveball questions are superb at revealing these attributes in applicants.
Use these queries to evaluate the creativity of candidates for jobs that depend on creativity or out-of-the-box thinking.
Icebreaker questions help a candidate to relax at the beginning of an interview.
They also give him a chance to warm up his communication skills, give him a tantalizing taste of your company's culture and a fun first impression.
Here are a few of them:
- If you could choose one superhuman ability, what would it be?
- What TV or movie character would you most like to have lunch with?
- Which one do you love more--felines or canines?
- If you were stuck forever on a deserted island and had all the food, water, and shelter you needed, what three personal items would you bring?
- Which literary character did you always dream of being?
- If you could visit any country on the planet, where would you go and why?
- Name ten uses for a stapler (other than its intended use).
- Do you think zombies should be slow or fast? Why?
- Describe this job to an extraterrestrial who just landed in Central Park.
Other Unique Questions
Ideally, you should create your own unique questions that are a perfect reflection of your workplace culture.
Here are some to either use as is or as fodder for your creative imagination:
- Tell me about a time you set a challenging goal for yourself and how you accomplished it.
The answer to this will show you how much effort the interviewee is willing to expend on challenges. Have him walk you through what they did to take their goal from nebulous idea to concrete reality.
Then, you'll know how they might act when challenges arise in your company.
- Describe the work environment that will help you to contribute most effectively.
This question should give you an excellent indication of what the candidate’s ideal workplace is. After you get his response, you'll be able to assess whether he would flourish in your company. Or wither away because the work culture won’t be to his liking.
If that happens, you’ll have hired the wrong person—a mistake that might have been entirely avoidable had you asked the right questions.
- What kind of oversight would your ideal boss provide?
The response will reveal how self-directed your future employee is. Some employees need a lot of handholding.
If your company depends on autonomous team members, this is an excellent one to pose to weed these types of people out.
- What project is your most significant career accomplishment?
You want team members whose actions add value to your company. If the applicant talks about an impressive achievement he helped to bring about and his story sounds credible, this might be someone you want to bring on board.
- What are the three most important attributes you’ll bring to our company?
Make sure the values your applicant mentions are congruent with those of your own workplace. If they’re wildly divergent, this might not be the person for you.
- Talk to me about a period in your life when you had to conquer a significant limitation that stood in the way of you accomplishing a goal.
By asking this, you’ll get insight into how good an applicant is at transcending tough challenges.
The question might also help tease out their problem-solving style, which could be useful information to have when you’re making a hiring decision.
- What excites you most about this job?
This one will help you discover if the prospective employee has a passion for the job he's applying for. If he gives a lackluster response, you might want to steer clear of him and hire someone else.
- How would your co-workers describe you?
This one will help you assess if colleagues enjoy working with the candidate, which will help you know if he's a team player.
- How would your current boss rate the quality of your work?
This question might tell you how good the candidate is at accepting criticism and feedback. If the applicant uses this time to vent about how bad his previous supervisor was, this might be a red flag.
- How will your skills contribute to the accomplishment of our company's mission?
These days, applicants are expected to conduct preliminary research on the company they want to work for. This question will show how much initiative the candidate took to investigate his future employer before coming to the interview.
- How are you going to continue to develop your professional skills and knowledge?
You want to hire interviewees who passionately believe in the power of continuous improvement and development.
By asking this question, you'll also learn where the candidate needs improvement or areas where they need to expand their skills.
- Pitch my business to me as if you were me, and I was an investor interested in buying the company.
The candidate’s response will show you how skilled they are in the art of persuasion.
His answer will show you his depth of understanding of what your company does and his ability to sell your product or service.
- Name a professional experience you would never want to go through again.
This question shows you how good the candidate is at learning from mistakes and extracting something of value even from the worst situations.
- Is it better to have a job done perfectly, albeit late, or merely good but on time?
You don't want someone who can't meet deadlines because they're paralyzed by perfection.
So really, there's only one right answer to this.
- In five minutes, can you explain something to me that you know well?
The candidate’s response will tell you how well your interviewee can articulate a subject to someone who doesn't know much about it.
In many companies, this can be a valuable communication skill to have.
- Tell me about a time you felt like a miserable failure.
The candidate’s answer will tell you if he can take ownership of mistakes and learn something from them. Good explanations don't brush away failures but say how the individual fell short of what they were trying to achieve and how they would do things differently in the future.
Beware the candidate who says he never screws up!
Other people to avoid are those who blame others for everything wrong in their life.
- What's something you'd be ecstatic about doing every day for the rest of your professional career?
This question will uncover what makes the candidate happy at work—which is an excellent way to gauge whether he’d stay at your company long term.
- If I gave you $100,000 to build your own business, what would you do?
The kind of venture the candidate chooses can be quite revelatory, giving you more than a mere glimpse into his interests. His answer will also tell you how much business acumen he has and the values he holds dear.
See if you can also glean any information about his decision-making abilities from this question.
- What's the most significant decision you made in the past year?
This is another question you can ask to gauge how an applicant's decision-making prowess. Find out if they quickly made that decision or if they stewed over it for some time.
You might also learn how the candidate decides between two competing alternatives.
- If you were tasked with re-branding this company for the (BLANK) industry, what would the press release's headline be?
This question lets your applicant show off his creative thinking abilities.
Let him dazzle you with them!
Track Your Data
Don’t just formulate questions and throw them away when the interview is done.
Meticulously track how effective each one is in giving you the information you need to make good hires. Then, continuously refine them, so they become even more effective at doing the job they need to do.
Match your questions to the candidate
Research your applicant a little so you can provide him with tailor-made questions that perfectly reflect his prior work history, interests, and values.
These types of questions will give you the best information.
Interview them in a restaurant or other non-office setting
By interviewing your candidate in a place other than the office, you’ll take the pressure off. This might let you see your future employee in an altogether different light than a formal office setting.
Make the Hiring Process Easier
At Hunt Club, we can make every step of the hiring process easier for you. That’s because we leverage referrals from our network of experts to source, qualify, and hire top-tier talent.
Give us a call today!