I have found myself, on more than one occasion, in the process of interviewing a prospective candidate for employment only to find my mind wondering. After a dozen interviews or so I began to speculate whether or not as part of their college’s career prep program they have them all visit the same “How to succeed at your interview!” website. I get the same ‘safe’ answers to my typical questions. Or the completely unoriginal strength as a weakness response to my “what’s one thing you’d change about how you operate?” I mean you can only hear “I care too much” and “I put too much time and effort into my work” before you want to be sick.
At first I thought the problem was with the candidates. I figured I was being sent a stream of boring, uncreative, and desperate applicants who thought if they sucked up to me enough I would look past their hollow responses to my questions. Then I realized that there was a chance that the problem wasn’t with them, it was with ME! They were giving me boring cookie cutter answers because I was asking boring cookie cutter questions. I immediately set forth to completely overhaul how I conducted interviews. I began by researching ways in which I could break the mold a bit. I discovered that some of the top companies in the country are way ahead of me and have mastered the art of the atypical interview. Google and Microsoft are known for their off the wall questioning. (Why are manhole covers round? How many piano tuners are there in the entire world?) They don’t ask these types of questions to stump the applicant or make them feel dumb. They ask them to get them to think and to see how they respond to a seemingly impossible situation. In other words the draw REAL response out of them! This was what I wanted to do. Human resource specialist, Susan M. Heathfield, affirmed my revelation in her article titled: Unusual Job Interview Questions Help Select the Best. In the article she said:
“The interviewers are trying to catch a glimpse of the unrehearsed candidate in an unguarded moment. There is no way to prepare for these off-the-wall job interview questions so the interviewer is able to observe how the candidate responds and composes his or her thoughts. Some interviewers also ask unusual job interview questions to gain insight into the candidate’s thought processes … they want to see how the candidate will think about the unusual job interview question.”
From there forward I have begun implementing a few of the more unique and thought provoking questions I have been able to find or come up with myself. The dramatic difference they have made to my interviews has been staggering. Of course the candidates are caught off guard but they are being made to derail their preconceived stock responses and show me a real side of them. It has allowed me to make a more informed decision on these applicants and how I feel they will respond to dynamic situations on the job. The responses I get have also significantly upped the entertainment value of the process for me as well!
Why Companies Love to Ask These Bizarre Interview Questions. (n.d.). About.com Human Resources. Retrieved July 11, 2014, from http://humanresources.about.com/od/interviewing/a/interview_odd.htm