16 Unconventional Interview Questions For Job Candidates
The interview process is a crucial component for both employers and job seekers, a moment when first impressions often set the tone for future interactions. While traditional questions like "Tell me about your strengths and weaknesses," or "Where do you see yourself in five years?" offer valuable insights, some hiring managers have taken a more […]
The interview process is a crucial component for both employers and job seekers, a moment when first impressions often set the tone for future interactions. While traditional questions like "Tell me about your strengths and weaknesses," or "Where do you see yourself in five years?" offer valuable insights, some hiring managers have taken a more unconventional approach. They ask off-the-wall interview questions that go beyond the usual script, aiming to uncover unique aspects of a candidate's personality and problem-solving skills.
Below, Forbes Coaches Council members explore their favorite offbeat interview questions, along with the fascinating reasons why these queries have become indispensable tools in their quests for exceptional talent.
1. 'How would you describe your driving?'
I find that people’s driving often reflects their character. Who do you become when others don’t live up to your expectations or drive the way you drive? Are you patient, forgiving, assertive or speeding up so people can’t get over? If it happens in your car, it will often eventually happen to the people at work and home. - Justin Patton, The Trust Architect Group
2. 'What big decision would you change in your career?'
"What is the one big decision in your career that, if you had the chance to do it over again, you would change and why?" While not off the wall, this question provides great insight into the candidates' self-awareness. Candidates' responses provide insights into their ability to reflect, learn from past experiences and apply that learning to future decisions. - Karen Tracy, Dr. Karen A Tracy, LLC
3. 'Tell me about a challenge you faced at work and how you overcame it.'
This is my favorite off-the-wall interview question because it reveals the candidate’s problem-solving skills and creativity which are valuable traits to many roles. - Adaora Ayoade, EZ37 Solutions
4. 'What do you love most about yourself?'
The candidate's response to this question allows the interviewer to learn a great deal about them and their potential fit in the organization. For instance, it can shed light on the candidate's level of self-esteem and self-confidence, authenticity, perceived unique gifts, what they deem important and whether those values align with the company values. - Vered Kogan, Momentum Institute
5. 'What is your heart's motivation to do what you do?'
I ask every potential hire the following: 1) What is your why? 2) what is your heart's motivation to do what you do? 3) how do we fit into your career future? 4) help me envision your career future if we do great work together, and 5) What will you be seeing, feeling, hearing and doing that furthers you to your greatest potential? These help me to understand how this person can be most successful here. - Jodie Charlop, Exceleration Partners
6. 'Growing up, did you have a best friend?'
I used to ask the question, "Growing up, did you have a best friend? If so, what about them drew you into that friendship?" Relationships are the number one success factor in any industry. The ability to see the goodness in others and their intentions makes for great teamwork. - Beaulah M. Chizimba, Limitless Nurses
7. 'What if you did know?'
In coaching and interviewing, my favorite question is in response to someone saying "I don't know." I respond with the question, "What if you did know? What would your answer be then?" This seems to give the person permission to wade into an unplanned, authentic response. This question has never failed me. In fact, it seems to build a connection. - Emily Grandinetta, MCC, Grandinetta Group, LLC
8. 'How would you use a time machine in relation to your current life?'
"If you had a one-way time machine, where you couldn't return to your current time. How would your decision to use the time machine reflect your current life satisfaction and future aspirations?" This question taps into candidates' temporal perspective, risk tolerance and decision-making skills. Their choice reflects their creative thinking, values, level of contentment and long-term goals. - Anna Barnhill, Barnhill Group Consulting, Inc
9. 'If you were a kitchen appliance, what would you be and why?'
Often intervening in recruitment processes, I like to think outside the box by asking unconventional questions. This one, in particular, reveals insights into a candidate's creativity and quick thinking and provides a glimpse into how they view themselves within a team. It adds a unique perspective to gauging their fit and personality. - Andre Shojaie, HumanLearn
10. 'How are you complicit in creating the conditions you say you don’t want?'
Or, a slightly different variation of this question is "What are all the ways you resist what you want?" This question uncovers the real flawed person behind the carefully crafted candidate facade. It helps you understand why the candidate is not where they want to be on the career ladder yet and decide if it is something you can work with. - Alla Adam, Alla Adam Coaching
11. 'If you were a flavor of ice cream, how would you convince someone to try you?'
This fun but strategic question is often disarming while allowing me to better assess how they deal with the unknown, and think both strategically and creatively. Can they sell me (or someone else) on the spot regarding something important? There are many ways this question can inform someone. - Joshua Miller, Joshua Miller Executive Coaching
12. 'If a movie was made about your career, what would it be called and who would play your character?'
The question is a fun and creative interview question because it encourages candidates to reflect on their professional journey in a playful way. This question goes beyond traditional interview queries, offering a lighthearted opportunity for candidates to showcase their personality and story skills - Ariel McGrew, Tactful Disruption®
13. 'Describe a dream you've had that you believe holds a message or lesson for your life journey.'
I'm a strong advocate of quality conversation over questions and answers. I've always looked to get into deeper conversations, typically by getting really curious about what activities, pursuits and interests a candidate feels most alive, engaged and in-flow during. To see a candidate at their best, find what's really engaging them right now. - Duncan Skelton, Duncan Skelton Coaching Ltd
15. 'What is one question I didn't ask you that you think I should have or wish I would have?'
A prepared interview candidate is typically ready to answer challenging interview questions, and they get upset when they're not asked. By asking them this question, they can demonstrate their level of preparation, and they get to highlight something that you didn't ask about in the interview. - John Knotts, Crosscutter Enterprises
16. 'How do you build IKEA furniture?'
I ask the person to describe in detail from the moment they receive the famous flat-pack box until the furniture is completely built. Some reply in one minute while others take 20 minutes. It tells me a lot about their behavior and attraction toward tasks or people. We then discuss the parts of their description that is nature and nurture. For me, it helps to see if the candidate really fits. - Krumma Jónsdóttir, Positive Performances
Article written by: Orville Lynch, Jr.
Mr. Lynch, a member of the legendary two-time Ohio Civil Rights Hall of Fame Award winning Lynch Family.
Mr. Lynch is a nationally recognized urban media executive with over 20+ years of diversity recruitment and serial entrepreneur with numerous multi-million dollar exits.