Social Recruiting

7 Unusual Job Interview Questions to Ask

“Where do you see yourself in five years?” “Describe a situation in which you made a mistake, how you dealt with it, and what you learned.” As a human resources professional, you’ve heard the whole gamut of responses to your interview questions several times over—it may become difficult to differentiate amongst candidates, let alone hire the best intern or entry-level employee.

In the past, we’ve advised job seekers on the Top 40 Internship Interview Questions. Now to shake up the routine, we suggest that recruiters introduce a few curveball questions into their repertoire. Not only will this make for a more thought-provoking interview experience, but it’ll also create rich opportunities for deeper questioning. Here are a few suggestions:

If you were hired, what would you accomplish in the first hour you were on the job?

Translation: Of your personal, social, and career goals, what takes precedence during your first day? How do you prioritize within such a limited time frame, and how do you organize your time to set up for success in the future?

List as many novel ways to use a paperclip as you can.

Translation: How creative are you?

What’s your favorite dish, and how would you convince someone who hated an ingredient to try it?

Translation: How able are you to construct a compelling argument? Can you strategize according to what you know about the other party, and how successful are you at presenting your case?

Estimate how many bicycles there are in San Francisco.

Translation: Explain how you would extrapolate from your existing knowledge to make an educated guess in a difficult situation.

How would you guide an alien through making a peanut butter sandwich?

7 Unusual Job Interview Questions to AskTranslation: How logically and systematically can you lead someone to success? Are you able to de-familiarize yourself from a mundane situation in order to see things from another person’s point of view?

If you could only listen to one song on repeat while at work, what song would that be?

Translation: What song represents your work ethic, and does that make you a good cultural fit for our company?

Rate me as an interviewer from 1 to 10.

Translation: Evaluate my abilities as an interviewer and, in providing feedback, demonstrate how you would start a dialogue in a professional situation.

Sometimes the best way to get from Point A to Point B is to visit Point Z. What are some outlandish interview questions you’ve encountered that have been great barometers for a candidate’s fit? Share them with the community in the comments below, or tweet us at @IMemployers!

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Nathan Parcells

Nathan Parcells is VP of Marketing and co-founder of Looksharp. He has spent the past decade helping students launch their career, researching best practices for hiring millennials (including running Looksharp's annual "State of College Hiring") and sharing these insights with employers. Nathan's work has been featured in Forbes, TechCrunch, Business Insider and more. Outside of work, Nathan is an avid rock climber, back packer and Bob Dylan fan.

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  • Gui Alves

    I work for a summer camp and my favorite question to ask my potential counselor is “Can you sing me a song?”

    Also, “If you could build a house out of totatly eatible products, what would it be?”

  • Ruby Rocha

    This is a great article on preparing for unusual job interview questions. Those who have an upcoming interview are surely grateful of this post. Thanks for sharing.

  • John Hoskins

    Terrible ideas. These would fail every test of a good behavioral interview question as they are mostly hypotheticals which allow the applicant to make up any answer they think you want to hear. Even Google’s CTO has admitted they don’t do this any more. Mostly questions like this are designed to make the interviewer feel clever.

  • Mulan Magic

    I agree these are not good questions and from my perspective not culturally or globally sensitive or inclusive. These questions are ridiculous and assume we all share the same shallow way of thinking and connecting the dots. Evidence show that the cause of institutional racism and unintended biases can be traced to the interview questions, so please take interview questions seriously. Use questions that have evidence of clearly producing the desired behavior or reveal the desired character and that applicants can relate to regardless of culture and background. Thank you.

  • Jobs In Clark

    A very informative post about unusual job interview questions. Thanks for posting this helpful article.

  • KMK

    Sorry, no. What these questions tell you is how a candidate can BS when they’re blindsided, which is not a situation they should be be facing in their internship. You’re not just getting another warm body, you’re getting a warm body for whom you are designing a learning experience. An internship is an opportunity to show a person what a good boss looks like, not someone caught up in his or her own cleverness.

  • Erik_G

    Hey Nathan, thanks for the post – I like how you turned it around on the applicant to rate you as an interviewer – very creative! I found this cool interview app – I’ve been using it with my applicants and it seems to help them perform better. Something to try!