Everyone has experienced an interview. When you think back on them, you can probably recall being asked the same questions. When most people conduct interviews, they stick to the same generic questions to try and get to know a candidate and learn how they would fit in with the company and the employees.
But this process is flawed. Because most interviews revolve around the same questions, most interviewees have developed pre-determined answers that will make them look good and flawless. In fact, their answers will probably sound a lot like the other interviewees who prepared the same way.
Smart interviewees know how to answer the standardized questions the way employers want them answered. For example, when asked “what are your weaknesses”, a smart interviewee is going to answer with a positive weakness, such as “I think I work too hard”.
In order to really get to know an interviewee, you need to ask questions that are considered unconventional, yet will give you an insight into who the person really is. Below are five unusual questions that you must ask a potential employee.
1. Why did you get in to this line of work?
This question allows you to see how passionate an interviewee is about their career. If their answer involves studying hard, knowing they wanted to do something with this industry, and working hard to get a job in the industry, you know they are probably determined to work for your company and continue working for your company. If they say they needed a job and this position was the only option they had, their dedication to their career may be somewhere else.
2. At your previous job, what would the person who liked you least say about you?
When you ask this question, you are going to get responses from all ends of the spectrum. There will be those who swear that they were liked by everyone in their office. If you get this answer, they’re lying. That shows enough about their personality. You want the interviewee to answer you honestly. Admitting that not everyone liked them shouldn’t make you think they’re not a team player, it should show you a lot about their character. Obviously, the answer they give should weigh in on your decision as to whether or not to hire them. For example, if their answer is “they would say I am lazy”, you may not want them on your team.
3. What questions are you hoping I won’t ask you?
Most people are going to respond with “Ask me anything”. (Or, at least, they should.) This question is to try and catch them off guard and hope that they answer you honestly. If they say “I hope you don’t ask me about my last job”, that should be a red flag that something awful happened. The more interesting an interviewee’s answers are, the more you will get to know about their personality. Also, when they answer you, you should follow up by actually asking them the question.
4. If you were a food, what would you be and why?
This lets you learn how the person perceives themselves. Look for strong and confident answers. If the interviewee shifts around and mumbles a bunch of “I don’t know’s”, it shows that they cannot think on their feet.
5. If you were hired, describe one thing you would do immediately to help the company.
This question is two-fold. First, it shows you how much homework they actually did before showing up for the interview. If they say “I would get rid of the warehouse”, but you don’t have a warehouse, they obviously don’t know much about your company. The second half of the question gives you an insight into their determination. Figuring out a way to help the company shows they are dedicated to the job and want to see the company succeed.
The best way to really get to know an interviewee is to take away the conventional questions that they have already prepared answers to. Make your questions interesting to keep them on their toes. Doing so keeps them off guard and gives you the chance to get real answers.
Madeline Sharp is an innovative Human Resources professional. She worked with a variety of businesses for more than 20 years before hanging out her shingle as an Entrepreneur. To grow her consulting practice, she is very active in Small Business Networking.