When it comes to hiring a team member, there's something that sets apart great interviews from the merely good ones: asking questions that veer off the beaten path.
Instead of the usual rehearsed queries in a job interview (”Where do you see yourself in five years?” 🥱), imagine having a truly wonderful conversation with a job candidate. A conversation that makes their eyes light up and one that helps you uncover their creativity, problem-solving chops and personality traits you wouldn't find on a résumé.
That's the magic of unconventional and interesting job interview questions. 🪄
In this article, we're shaking up your job interview playbook with 15 unique, out-of-the-box questions. They might not be perfect for every type of role you’re hiring for, but they have the ability to help you unearth the real person behind the CV and cover letter — the candidate who not only fits the job but also your team.
Whether you're a seasoned hiring manager or an individual contributor tasked with recruitment, these questions will help you forge a deeper connection with your candidates. You may even uncover hidden gems you might have otherwise missed. Ready?! Let's go.
<div class="inpage-callout-container"><p class="inpage-banner-text">⚡ Remember: As the hiring manager for a role, you’re in a position of power. You’re choosing who gets to be your next teammate and who helps shape the future of your company. But as much as you’re interviewing a candidate, your candidate is also interviewing you. During the interview process, they need to feel confident in their decision to join your team. If you’re an in-house recruiter or a hiring manager, you should be prepared to answer candidate questions and share information that would get them excited about joining your team.</p></div>
Why ask it: This question goes beyond the candidate's qualifications and allows them to express their values and interests. It's valuable for assessing cultural fit and understanding the candidate's mindset outside of work. Their choice and the reasons behind it can offer insights into their personality and aspirations.
<div class="inpage-callout-container"><p class="inpage-banner-text">🔥 Pro Tip: Creative and unconventional job interview questions are not about tricking candidates or creating a “gotcha” moment during your interview process. They are instead all about getting a fuller picture of who a candidate is better understanding their potential on your team. No tricks or traps here.</p></div>
Why ask it: This question assesses adaptability and problem-solving skills. It helps you understand how the candidate responds to steep learning curves, whether they embrace challenges and how well they can apply new knowledge to new problems. It also allows for some fun insight into their interests and experiences as the discussion doesn’t have to be at all work-related. 🕺
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Why ask it: By asking this unique job interview question, you can uncover the candidate's critical thinking abilities and how well they can identify areas for improvement in an organization. Their answer can highlight their creativity in addressing workplace challenges and their understanding of what makes a job more efficient or enjoyable. This is an especially useful question to ask a candidate up for a managerial role and if you’re looking for someone to make a big impact on your team.
Why ask it: No new gig comes without its concerns or uncertainties. Asking this interview question opens the door for your candidate to get really honest with you about what they're looking for in their next move. It also allows you the opportunity to squash any of their concerns if you can, which will be mutually beneficial throughout the hiring process.
Why ask it: Beyond professional skills, this question uncovers the candidate's personal passions and how they might relate to their work ethic and motivation. It can provide insights into their commitment, dedication, and alignment with company values.
<div class="inpage-callout-container"><p class="inpage-banner-text">🔥 Pro Tip: To make sure your candidates are at ease and aren’t thrown off by these unconventional interview questions, answer them yourself too! Before the candidate answers, let them know what your answer is. That way the interview really becomes a way for you both to get to know each other and helps them to better understand each question.</p></div>
Why ask it: This question explores the candidate's long-term goals, ambition and the impact they aspire to make. It can reveal their vision for their career and their alignment with your team’s mission and objectives. It’s also quite a fun question to dig into if time and money weren’t a blocker! 😅
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Why ask it: The answer to this interesting interview question provides a unique window into the candidate's personality and preferences. Pet peeves can range from minor annoyances to more significant issues (we’ve all got a couple of ‘em!). It's a way to understand what environment or behaviors might be challenging for their workflow and whether these align with what your workplace can provide. This also gives you a moment to reassure a candidate that your company is the right place for them.
<div class="inpage-callout-container"><p class="inpage-banner-text">✏️ Remember: This question is not about passing judgment on a candidate’s pet peeve. Instead, it’s about getting an honest response, backed up by reasoning and getting insight into how your candidate manages any workplace pet peeves.</p></div>
Why ask it: This out-of-the-box interview question is a great way to explore a candidate's entrepreneurial spirit, creativity, interests and values. It can help you gain insight into their vision for business and the principles they consider essential in shaping a company's culture and success. You can then apply their answer to how they might help shape your business.
Why ask it: Understanding a candidate's vision for industry improvement demonstrates their industry knowledge, critical thinking and the extent of their engagement in their industry, whatever it may be. It can reveal their passion for positive change and progress in their field.
Why ask it: This question uncovers hidden talents and interests that a candidate may bring to the table at your company. It can highlight unique qualities that add unexpected value to your team. It also acts as a fun question that can help lighten the mood and create an interesting discussion between you and the candidate.
<div class="inpage-callout-container"><p class="inpage-banner-text">🔥 Pro Tip: If it works for your hiring process, you could even add some of these creative interview questions to your phone screen. Use this phone interview email template to kick things off (and just make sure to let your candidates know of the general interview style you’ll conduct).</p></div>
Why ask it: Evaluating a candidate's willingness to take calculated risks can be really important for a number of roles you may be hiring for. This question helps uncover their courage, decision-making process and the valuable lessons they've gained from totally stepping out of their comfort zone.
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Why ask it: This question is best reserved for candidates applying to more creative roles — think jobs where there is an element of storytelling baked into their role. Delve into the candidate's self-awareness and their ability to reflect on their career journey. Their response can provide you and your hiring team insight into their values, accomplishments and what they consider to be their defining moments in work and the rest of their life.
Why ask it: Ask this unique interview question to encourage candidates to think creatively and share their ultimate ambitions when it comes to their work. You’ll hopefully be able to get a sense of their problem-solving skills, as they consider how a superpower might help them overcome challenges or achieve their career goals. Who doesn’t want to have a superpower, right? 🦸
Why ask it: In line with the previous interview question about superpowers, this question is all about encouraging candidates to think imaginatively about their strengths and how they can apply them in a work context. Their response will give you a sense of their creativity, adaptability and problem-solving skills within the unique setting of a video game.
Why ask it: This question flips the interview process around a teeny bit. 🔄 It gives candidates an opportunity to offer constructive feedback on your interview process. It also demonstrates how they provide thoughtful criticism and suggestions for improvement, which are crucial skills to have when working in a team.
<div class="inpage-callout-container"><p class="inpage-banner-text">🔥 Pro Tip: Asking candidates for feedback on the interview experience also shows that your organization values continuous improvement and values the candidate's perspective (and their experience). It can lead to valuable insights for enhancing your hiring process and making candidates feel seen, heard and respected. 💫</p></div>