Excerpted from an SHRM Blog by Eva Del Rio
Q: What do you think about offbeat interview questions such as “Tell me a joke” or “If you could only choose one song to play every time you walked into a room for the rest of your life, what would it be? I think we can learn some good things from these types of questions. What do you think?
A: I agree that there’s value in asking unusual questions. However to me, your examples sound a little gimmicky if you’re hiring for a mainstream workplace. Although they may work well if you’re hiring for a position in a creative field that requires free uninhibited thinking, if you were to ask me to “Tell you a joke” during an interview, all you would learn is how easily I get embarrassed and how uncomfortable I get when put on the spot.
Having said that, I do think quirky questions are valuable, but I think they should be carefully chosen. We don’t want to use something just because it sounds clever, but choose instead because -as you said- “we can learn some good things from these types of questions.”
Below are some examples of quirky questions I like and what I think they can tell you about an applicant.
Tell me something about you that isn’t on your résumé.
This gives us insight into what’s important to the applicant outside their profession. What they’re proud about: might be a personal accomplishment, a hobby, a charity, a family member.
What would you want to do if you didn’t have to work?
This gives insight into their values: do they devote time to health and wellness, self-development, helping others, hobbies, or continue working?
What are three attributes that you value most in another person (colleague/team member/partner).
Although there are no right wrong answers, “Sociable,” “Creative,” “Sense of humor,” paint a different picture than “Visionary,” “Strategic thinker,” “Relentless.”
If you could be remembered for one sentence or slogan, what would it be?
The answer may demonstrate their sense of humor, or optimism, or cynicism.
Try some of these questions next time you interview (actually, we might have fun answering them ourselves). Do you have your own favorites?