Nontraditional Interview Questions You Should Be Asking

You can’t get a good idea of what candidates are truly like if all you’re hearing are the answers they’ve practiced. The main reason is that they’re ready for most of your questions. Interviewees have learned to prepare for the standard battery of questions, so maybe it’s time to throw in a twist, and ask some nontraditional interview questions.

Plenty of companies have used nontraditional hiring techniques before. Google once ran a billboard with a difficult math question on it. Solving the problem led the candidate to a website and another math problem. Solving that problem gave potential candidates the key to apply for a coveted job with the search giant, and the process itself yielded the sort of qualified, intellectually curious candidates Google was looking for.

Nontraditional interview questions largely break down into two categories: the practical situational and behavioral type, which ask a candidate to relate their past experiences at dealing with certain issues, and the abstract type, which use outside-the-box scenarios to help an interviewer determine if a candidate would be a good fit for the company’s culture on a more personal level.

Examples of practical questions:

  • Tell me a situation where you’ve had a conflict with a co-worker. What caused it, and how did you resolve it?
  • Describe a time you were in a leadership position. What challenges did you encounter in that role?
  • Describe a situation where you failed to reach a goal. Why did you fail, and what did you do to address that shortcoming.
  • What projects have you completed as part of a team. What were the advantages and disadvantages to working as a team?

Examples of abstract questions:

  • If you could have dinner with any U.S. President, living or dead, who would it be? Why?
  • If you were told you had six months to live, how would you spend that time?
  • Do you feel dishonesty on behalf of your business is ever warranted? If so, in what cases?
  • If you were an animal/car/food/color, what kind of animal/car/food/color would you be?
  • If you were shipwrecked with ample essential supplies, what three things would you want to have with you?

An important thing to remember is that the point of nontraditional interview questions is not to “stump” or “catch out” an interviewee. It’s not an adversarial meeting, it’s a collaborative discovery of what a candidate brings to the table, and how they’ll potentially fit with your company.

Nontraditional interview questions are great, creative and free way to shake up your interview process and get to know your potential employees better. Contact us, and we can help you devise ways to identify the right candidates for your business.