What you can learn from bizarre interview questions

By July 31, 2012 Hiring & Recruiting

The resources available online have helped job seekers today better prepare themselves for interviews. There are countless websites where job candidates can review a few “traditional” interview questions and answers, and walk into the interview and nail it. An abundance of information can only lead to a better prepared, and thus, overall stronger candidate. Sounds like a good system, right? Well, with a caveat.

The job interview has as much to do with getting to know the person as it does with reviewing and assessing their credentials. When your seventh interviewee of the day states that their greatest weakness is that they are too much of a perfectionist, then that might be a good sign to start thinking creatively in order to truly get to know the person.

Interviewing for personality

The easiest way to uncover this is to perhaps do away with the traditional interview format and simply have a chat. Not a QA session or a point-counterpoint discussion; but rather, a real-life, genuine, get-to-know-you conversation. Finding the right personality fit can sometimes be the greatest challenge in filling a role. Can you get the interviewee talking? This will typically lower their guard and give more insight into their personality and tendencies then a slew of rehearsed answers.

If you could be any superhero, who would it be?

A growing trend has been to introduce off-beat or unusual questions into the process. Candidates have wondered what they mean and it is less complicated than you think. These are designed to catch someone off-guard. Many of these questions don’t have a right or wrong answer, but, they are designed to test the candidate on many levels. These include their ability to think on their feet and justify their responses, and also to assess personality traits such as confidence, poise, imagination, intelligence, and out-of-the-box thinking. So there really is a method to the madness.

However, the question(s) still have to be closely aligned with your objective, which is to find the right person with the right skill set to provide a positive contribution to the organization. So if you feel an unusual line of questioning will get you there—I say go for it. I’ve come across many examples where the unusual interview tactic does not draw out the candidate’s personality, and actually works against your objective. Just keep a clear sense of what your objective is, and more importantly, how your own style will help you to understand your candidate and make a well-informed decision.

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Carmine Palazzo is a Technical Recruiter with Procom Consultants Group, a leading IT Staffing Services provider. Contact Carmine at carminep@procom.ca or follow him on twitter @CarminePalazzo 

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