How to keep interviewees on their toes

HRM 01 Feb 2013

Ever been tempted to throw a quixotic question into the interview situation? Well, you’re not alone.

Career advice site Glassdoor scoured tens of thousands of interview questions that job candidates shared with them last year to compile a list of the 25 strangest.

Beyond providing an amusing read, such questions may be genuinely useful. Given the preparedness of the modern job candidate, it’s likely that they are ready for most of the standard questions on your list. Asking them something unexpected may provide a useful insight.

“Oddball questions can be a powerful tool to glean information about a potential candidate as long as they are used correctly. If the interviewer doesn’t know what he or she is looking for, then throwing out a strange question just for the sake of doing it will be pointless,” Donna Fuscaldo wrote on Glassdoor. Interviewers should consider the role that they are filling, and what sort of person would fill it well, and what sort of question would cause the candidate to divulge the information that they were after.

With that in mind, here are ten of the best, along with who asked them:
 

  1. How many cows are in Canada? (Asked at Google)
  2. A penguin walks through that door right now wearing a sombrero. What does he say and why is he here? (Clark Construction Group)
  3. What do you think about when you are alone in your car? (Gallup)
  4. If we came to your house for dinner, what would you prepare for us? (Trader Joe’s)
  5. My wife and I are going on vacation, where would you recommend? (PricewaterhouseCoopers)
  6. What’s your favourite song? Perform it for us now. (LivingSocial)
  7. Have you ever stolen a pen from work? (Jiffy Software)
  8. What kitchen utensil would you be? (Bandwidth.com)
  9. If you had turned your cellphone to silent, and it rang really loudly despite it being on silent, what would you tell me? (Kimberly Clark)
  10. On a scale from one to ten, rate me as an interviewer. (Kraft Foods)


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