#AskARecruiter: Top 7 Unconventional Questions That Should Be Asked in Every Interview4 min read

September 12, 2019 Ask a Recruiter

You likely have a list of common interview questions that you use frequently. But how do you know if they’re the right ones for the candidate you’re interviewing? Here are a list of unconventional questions that gauge behavior patterns, personality and work style.

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Whether you’re a seasoned recruiter or just starting out, you’re likely armed with a list of common interview questions for every candidate. But navigating the art of the interview can be complicated. Questions like “Tell me about yourself” or “Why are you looking for a new role?” can be good conversation starters, but they’re also the kinds of questions that might lead to canned responses.

While the same old list of pre-selected questions can help you learn more about a candidate’s work history and experience, they may not be effective in helping you assess things like behavioral tendencies, problem-solving skills or leadership style. How do you decide which questions are best for the specific role you’re filling? What’s the best way to gauge a candidate’s passion for their work, or assess if they’re a good culture fit?

We turned to a few of our favorite recruiting experts for a few uncommon questions that help them get a better sense of their candidate’s personality and style:

Recruiters: What One Question Should Be Asked in Every Interview?

“If a company was to offer you access to an executive coach, what would you want them to counsel you on?”
— Tammy, Director of Talent Acquisition, stadium operations corporation

This multi-faceted question helps you learn a few important traits about your candidate. It’s a different way of asking “What’s your greatest weakness,” and prompts them to think about what they’d most like to improve without putting them on the spot. It also helps you gauge a candidate’s willingness to ask for help, which is a valuable skill even for the most accomplished employees. Lastly, this question helps you build employer brand by suggesting how a candidate might grow as an employee at your company.


“What’s something you haven’t told us, but that we’ll likely find out about you in three months?”
— Shantel Khleif, CEO, Imagine Media Consulting (via Inc.)

This question is a way of asking about quirks, unusual qualities, or potentially even character flaws. It’s human nature to put your best face forward during the interview process and try to conceal any less-than-desirable traits. But we’re all human, so our true selves are eventually going to emerge.


“If you could be any fruit, what fruit would you be?”
— Laneisha, University Relations Manager, Electronics Company

While it may seem silly, this question helps you understand how well someone is able to think outside the box. Candidates likely aren’t anticipating this question, so look for an ability to be flexible and improvise. This is a good question to ask at the beginning or end of an interview to break the ice or wrap up on a fun note.

What is one accomplishment in your life that you are extremely proud of?
Shawn Welch, Founder, Shawn Welch Company

Not only will this question give you an example of a previous accomplishment, but it will also give you insight into a candidate’s values. How do they measure success? What do they consider most important? What motivates them?

For example, someone who’s proud of the time they were interviewed on primetime television is likely most driven by personal accolades, while someone who effectively resolved a company-wide conflict is likely more motivated by building interpersonal relationships.


On a scale of 1 to 10, how lucky are you in life?
Rob Alvarez, CFO/COO, BigCommerce (via John Brandon, Inc.)

How do job seekers perceive their own success? Do they attribute their fortune to their own hard work, or to external factors? If they consider themselves a very lucky person, do they show gratitude for the opportunities they’ve been afforded? If they don’t chalk their success up to luck, how do they explain their personal success?  While there’s no right or wrong answer, this question is extremely valuable in understanding a candidate’s and level of gratitude and self-reflection.


What do you do for fun?
Brooke, Junior Recruiter, financial technology company

Everyone is nervous during an interview, so give your candidate a chance to talk about themselves with a topic that’s light and fun. This question is a great icebreaker, but it also gives you a peak into a candidate’s personality. What are they passionate about? What drives them? Are they enthusiastic? Even if not work-related, these insights will help you understand what most motivates them as an employee down the road.


How would you solve problems if you were from Mars?
Amazon (via Hubspot)

This question tests if your candidate can think outside of what’s traditional or normal. You’ll want your candidate to demonstrate an ability to problem-solve even under bizarre circumstances. Their answer can show you whether she’s capable of entering a new workplace environment and evaluating it fairly before offering solutions.

At its best, an interview is an exchange of ideas where candidates can share not only their work history, but their personality, motivators and ways of thinking. It’s also an opportunity for you to highlight your employer brand, build stronger connections and ultimately assess if a candidate is a good match for your company. Asking better questions can help you get better results.

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