Interview questions feeling stale? Looking to hire more creative talent? Adding some inventiveness to your company’s hiring process can showcase the ingenuity and personality of your candidates in a way that cliché, expected questions cannot. Oftentimes, the interview is one of the last steps in the hiring process, after you’ve already gathered a lot of important information on your candidates through things like resumes, pre-employment assessments, background screening, and more. The interview is an opportunity to learn more about a candidate’s qualifications and get a sense of how well they’d work on your team. Here are a few creative interview questions you can throw into the mix:
1. Question: "What was the last costume you wore?" - David Gilboa, co-CEO of Warby Parker
Purpose: To test quirkiness and company culture fit.
2. Question: "Tell me something that's true, that almost nobody agrees with you on." - Peter Thiel, co-founder of PayPal
Purpose: To test originality and courage.
3. Question: "If you worked in a restaurant, what role would you want?" - Ajeet Singh, CEO of ThoughtSpot
Purpose: This question helps employers “get at the essence of what drives a person and what they like to do” when job constraints are eliminated.
4. Question: "If we're sitting here a year from now celebrating what a great 12 months it's been for you in this role, what did we achieve together?" - Randy Garutti, CEO of Shake Shack
Purpose: Ask this question to identify candidates who have "done their homework, truly understand our company and the role ... and really want it."
5. Question: “What's your superpower, or what's your spirit animal?” - Ryan Holmes, HootSuite CEO
Purpose: To evaluate a candidate's ability to think on their feet, and also an indirect way of asking about their personality. Holmes’ executive assistant’s response to this question? A duck, because it is “calm on the surface and hustling like crazy getting things done under the surface.”
6. Question: “What do you think about our most recent advertising campaign?” - Richard Branson, CEO of Virgin Group
Purpose: To determine the “higher-tier, more committed and passionate interviewees.”
7. Question: “How would you describe yourself in one word?” - Dara Richardson-Heron, YWCA
Purpose: Ask this question to assess a candidate’s confidence, thoughtfulness and sense of identity - to gain “insight into how people package themselves.”
8. Question: “On a scale of one to 10, how weird are you?” - Tony Hsieh, CEO of Zappos
Purpose: To visualize how a potential candidate will assimilate into company culture. “If you’re a one, you probably are a little bit too straight-laced for the Zappos culture… if you’re a 10, you might be too psychotic for us.”
Interested in knowing which interview questions employers and interviewers like best? In 2014, a company called VoiceGlance wondered the same thing, so they put on a contest to find out what questions recruiters, HR managers, and job candidates across the globe like the most.
- Can you tell me about a situation that was difficult and you were able to overcome it?
- What’s the worst thing about your current job and what’s the best?
- What would you like to change (positively) in our organization, and how would you do that?
- Explain how you will add value to our company if hired.
- What one skill do you possess that will most impact our bottom line?
- What did you love best about your last full-time position?
- Why should we hire you?
If your company seeks creativity above all, these bizarre interview questions can help you separate the imaginative from the mundane.
- "Would you rather fight 1 horse-sized duck, or 100 duck-sized horses?" - Whole Foods
- "What's one of the last times that you embarrassed yourself to draw attention to yourself?" - Zappos
- “What is your favorite curse word? Use it in a sentence about your last job.” - Zappos
- "What would you do if you found a penguin in the freezer?" - Trader Joe’s
- “How would you solve problems if you were from Mars?” - Apple
- “Name two ways to use a brick that don’t involve labor.” - Zappos
- “Why are manhole covers round?” - Google
- "If your life had a theme song, what would it be?" - Zappos
- “If you were a street sign, what would you be?” - Pacific Sunwear
- "When a hot dog expands, in which direction does it split and why?" - SpaceX
- “How many basketballs would fit in this room?” - Delta Airlines
- “What do you think of garden gnomes?” - Trader Joe’s
Questions to Never, Ever Ask a Candidate
While crafting creative interview questions, it is crucial to take into account the legality of your questions. Never ask questions that could discriminate against a candidate based on their age, race or ethnicity, gender or sex, country of origin or birthplace, religion, disability, marital status, family status, or pregnancy.
Examples of interview questions that could get you into legal trouble:
- What arrangements are you able to make for child care while you work?
- Will you need personal time off for particular religious holidays?
- Are you comfortable working for a female boss?
- There is a large disparity between your age and that of the position’s coworkers. Is this a problem for you?
- Have you experienced any serious illnesses in the past year?
Furthermore, while it is appropriate to think outside the box when creating questions for your interviews, it is important that you do so before conducting any actual interviews. If you improvise and generate questions on the spot, you will end up asking each applicant different questions, which could unintentionally be easier or more difficult than other questions. Structured interviews are essential to reducing hiring bias because they give each candidate an equal opportunity to shine. In fact, studies have shown that they are almost twice as predictive of a new hire’s job performance as unstructured interviews.
If your company is seeking bright, innovative new hires, try revamping your interview questions to better identify these candidates. Plenty of Fortune 500 corporations are opting for more original questions - why not try it at your business, too?
Curious about more questions that test your candidate’s character? Check out the three questions Criteria Corp CEO Josh Millet always asks during an interview.