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5 Non-Traditional Interview Questions That Can Help You Select the Right Candidate

July 21st, 2011

Selecting the right candidate for a job opening can be tricky, especially if there are several great candidates available, yet choosing the right person for a job is critical to your company’s success. While there are no guarantees that the candidate who looks so good on paper will be as good of an employee in real life, try using non-traditional job interview questions to help bring out the answers that will help you assess your candidates on a different level.

Candidates often worry about non-traditional interview questions, which can seem like their only purpose is to put someone on the spot or trick them. But there is a method to their madness. Here are 5 non-traditional interview questions and the reasons behind asking them.

  • “Where do you see yourself in five years? This is an icebreaker question that allows the interviewer to get a peek at the candidate’s true intentions. Use this question to find out what the candidate is seeking and if their expectations match the actual job role.
  • “Tell me about a time you were treated unfairly at work, and how was it resolved?” This question nudges most candidates outside of their comfort levels. However, those candidates who are true team players and work well with others should be able to explain how being treated “unfairly” actually provided an opportunity to take responsibility and end up with a positive outcome. Candidates who take a victim stance are not what you are looking for.
  • “What’s the most adventurous or risky thing you’ve ever done?” While this may seem like a loaded question, it’s actually a good way to identify candidates who enjoy getting the most out of life in their personal life as well as at the office. Those who lead active lives are most likely to be proactive at work.
  • “If you could be any superhero for a day, who would you be?” While this question may seem to come completely out of left field, it can help you see a clear division between great and so-so candidates. The best candidates will be able to logically explain why being a superhero would be beneficial to mankind. And the stronger the powers of the superhero, the more powerful the job candidate sees himself.
  • “What are the first three things you do at work in the morning?” This is a fun question, but it has a purpose. Since much of the workday requires planning and prioritizing, what a candidate does first thing in the morning at work is actually very important. The best candidates will generally respond by explaining the use of a calendar system to stay on top of tasks, or getting the most important things done first as a priority.

Asking non-traditional interview questions allows you to observe a few things about your candidate pool: How comfortable are they with unexpected questions – can they think on their feet and not panic? Are they creative? Can they roll with the punches and maybe have a bit of fun in a stressful situation? All of these are good qualities to have in an employee, and you might not dig deep enough to find these qualities with straightforward, traditional interview questions.



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