6 Weird but Remarkably Useful Interview Practices

by Dora Wang on Apr 24, 2015 11:00:00 AM

6 Weird but Useful Interview PracticesIs your interview process feeling stale? Shake things up with these unusual questions and exercises that are not only fun but can also land you a great candidate.

Unexpected Questions

Stephanie McDonald, Owner of HirePerformance, shares one of her favorite questions: “Tell me what jobs are within your experience that you're not applying for?” The benefit of this question, McDonald explains, is that it “helps me better understand what a candidate won't enjoy doing and why. If there are components of the work they don't enjoy doing in the role I'm recruiting for, this can help me judge how motivated they will be to perform in that position.”

Amanda Cohen, Marketing Manager for Homescout Realty, thinks (and asks) outside the box: “What is the biggest misrepresentation people have of you?” Not only is it useful for the interviewer — “because it provides you with good information on the candidate that you may not be able to gather from first impression” — but what a great way to help candidates who might worry about inaccurate first impressions!

Rachel Brookhart, Resource Manager for the Center for Nonprofit Management, uses a question on a similar theme. “When interviewing a potential employee, I like to ask, ‘What three words would a coworker use to describe you?’ It throws them off a bit and it's always interesting to see the wide variety of answers you get. The responses can tell you a lot about a person!” This question can help you get to the heart of whether the candidate is a good fit for your team.

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Surprising Exercises

Orun Bhuiyan, Cofounder of SEOcial, uses an unusual exercise during interviews: “We ask the candidate to draw a capital Q on their forehead with their finger.” A Q that faces the interviewer shows “the ability to draw the Q from our perspective” and often indicates “good salespeople because they're social chameleons and able to connect with a client from their perspective.” On the other hand, a Q that faces themselves “generally indicates a more humble, honest, and straightforward disposition.” Both types of employees can be a great fit — but it’s important to know which type you’re getting.

John Jersin, CEO and Cofounder of Connectifier, pushes candidates outside of their comfort zone with two different exercises:

  • Creative exercise: “Candidates are given a short period of time (usually 1-2 minutes) to come up with as many solutions to a simple problem as they can. A good example: what are different methods you could use to see if a light bulb in a refrigerator turns off when the door is closed?

  • Estimation exercise: “Candidates are asked to walk through their thinking in coming up with an answer to a question such as, how many golf balls can fit inside a school bus?

“Both kinds of questions force candidates to think on their feet and stretch outside their comfort zones,” Jersin says. “In both cases, it's less about the answers themselves and more about seeing how candidates think and behave.”

These techniques may be surprising, but they’re also surprisingly useful. Who knew that weirdness could be one of your most effective recruitment strategies?



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This post was written by Dora Wang

Dora is an employee engagement researcher for TINYpulse and managing editor of TINYinstitute. Having grown up in Texas, she is now firmly settled in Seattle, where she spends her free time reading comic books, wrangling her three cats, and (of course) rooting for the Seahawks.

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