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10 Unconventional Interview Questions to Ask

by John Stebbins on Jan 29, 2020 8:35:13 AM

Everyone has been asked standard questions in an interview before. And that means job candidates can likely anticipate what you’ll ask and prepare rehearsed responses in advance. As a hiring manager, that usually translates into safe answers, meaning, those that don’t reveal too much insight into the applicant and whether they’d be a fit.

That’s why many employers are turning to unconventional questions designed to show a bit more of a potential employee’s personality, how they think, and their ability to problem-solve, which can all be critical to how they’ll perform on the job. Here are some topics to try in your upcoming interviews and why. Just be sure to keep an open mind because with these questions, there are no right or wrong answers!

  1. What’s your favorite pizza topping? Pepperoni is the most popular pizza topping but every option reveals something about a candidate’s personality. Cheese? They’re reliable. Hawaiian? Confident. Anchovy? Bold. Veggie? Sensitive. Think about what you’re looking for in a candidate and assess how they measure up based on their choice.
  2. In what ways are you lucky? This question is designed to elicit whether a candidate is optimistic or pessimistic, so if you’re looking to avoid hiring those with a negative attitude, this is a good open-ended question to ask.
  3. Give an example of a time when you had to convince someone to do something and how you succeeded. The feedback to this question will share the applicant’s approach to teamwork, their communication skills, and their persuasive abilities, which can all be essential to a role.
  4. If you only have 15 minutes a day to answer emails, how would you prioritize your inbox? The average office worker receives 121 emails a day, so this question is good to assess a candidate’s decision-making process. Do they select based on urgency, the sender (e.g. boss or client), or subject?
  5. Who would win in a fight: King Kong or Godzilla? While a movie that poses this question is in theaters now, see how job seekers would respond. Godzilla has a clear size advantage and fiery breath, but applicants may put their money on Kong’s smarts, revealing their belief in innovation, strategy, and instinct to turn a situation around.
  6. What’s the most interesting thing about you that’s not on your resume? Asking this will reveal more about the person, and not just their work skills. Depending on the response, you may be able to determine something about the applicant’s character, motivations, or work ethic that will help you decide if they’ll be a good match.
  7. What makes you nervous? This question can highlight potential stressors for candidates, which can be useful in understanding how they may react to challenges in the role as well as whether they’re prepared to tackle tough situations effectively.
  8. What is your favorite book? If you want to get a better sense of a candidate, this query may show a different side, like what a candidate finds interesting or is passionate about that can help you understand what they would be like to work with every day.
  9. How many bowling balls do you think could fit in this room? If numbers are part of the job, then this question is a good one to ask candidates since they’ll need to use logic to create a formula to solve the problem. Don’t forget to pay attention to any questions they ask about your question since those can be just as telling as the answer, like whether the room has anything in it.
  10. Orange or blue? Colors can tell you a lot about a person so consider how a candidate responds. Blue signifies that they’re likely trustworthy and a team player while orange can mean that they have a lot of energy and are upbeat. While not definitive, the choices can reveal some traits that may be important in the job.

Want to see this unconventional approach in action? Check out this clip from The Internship featuring an out-of-the-box Google interview question. For more help finding the perfect candidate, contact Complete Payroll Solutions to learn about our HR offerings at 401-332-9325.


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