Employers have several objectives when interviewing candidates for their job openings. TheySpin Unique Interview Questions want to obtain as much information about the candidate’s knowledge, skills, and abilities as possible, get to know the candidate’s personality, and assess work ethic, maturity, and honesty. Rapport and culture fit are important aspects of a good hire for most employers, so unique interview questions that elicit information about how a candidate thinks, where a candidate’s interests lie, and how a candidate operates socially in working relationships are as important as questions about qualifications and experience. If you aren’t incorporating unique interview questions in your process, now is the time to start.

Spinning Traditional Interview Questions

In his book “96 Great Interview Questions to Ask Before You Hire,” Paul Falcone discusses the value of traditional interview questions to discuss the candidate’s background, work ethics, and personality. Asking candidates about their strengths, weaknesses, work styles, and other typical interview queries are a foundation of the interview process, but he suggests spinning traditional interview questions into unique interview questions to get more in-depth information about the candidate’s abilities. For example, if a candidate describes herself as hard-working when asked the “Tell me about yourself” question, use that to dig deeper, ask unique interview questions such as “Give me an example of how hard you work compared to your co-workers” or “ How has your hard work paid off in terms of the quantity or quality of your work output?”.

Work Sampling Questions

To get real-time evidence of a candidate’s abilities, Sean McFarlane of The Recruiting Division recommends turning your unique interview questions into work sampling interview questions that require candidates to demonstrate their abilities. Instead of asking them what they can do, interviewers ask them to actually do something related to the openings, or essential functions of the positions for which they are applying. For example, an interviewer may ask a sales manager candidate to create a marketing plan for the company’s newest product. An interviewer for a law firm may ask an attorney to draft a contract in the firm’s area of expertise. An interviewer for a software company may ask a software developer to write code for a project in process. Unique interview questions such as “Please show me how you’d solve this production problem on our widget production line” for a manufacturing supervisor interview, or “This is our current sales force (showing an organizational chart of the sales department). How would you best utilize or reorganize this department to make our corporate goal of increasing sales by 10 percent happen this year?” require candidates to prove their skills and experience so the interviewer can measure competence, creativity, and innovation.

What Google Does – Open-ended Mental Challenges

Offbeat, unique interview questions allow interviewers to measure mental flexibility, entrepreneurial potential, and the candidate’s ability to innovate. In the book “Are You Smart Enough to Work at Google? Trick Questions, Zen-like Riddles, Insanely Difficult Puzzles, and Other Devious Interviewing Techniques You Need to Know to Get a Job Anywhere in the New Economy,” author William Poundstone opens his 10-chapter, 277-page book by describing a Google applicant interview trying to answer the following opening unique interview question: “You are shrunk to the height of a nickel and thrown into a blender. Your mass is reduced so that your density is the same as usual. The blades start moving in sixty seconds. What do you do?” The interviewer shoots down each answer with logic, forcing the candidate to come up with different possible approaches, then ends the interview.

Another one of Google’s unique interview questions: You work in a 100-story building and are given two identical eggs. You have to determine the highest floor from which an egg can be dropped without breaking. You are allowed to break both eggs in the process. How many drops would it take you to do it?

How would you assess the candidates who took an interest in and made some intelligent, creative attempts to answer unique interview questions like these? Versus the candidates who get the deer-in-the-headlights looks on their faces? Traditional interview questions will always have their place, but dive deeper into candidate assessment with the use unique interview questions.

What are your favorite unique interview questions? Please share in the Comments section below!


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