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8 Interview Questions that Deviate from the Norm

8 Interview Questions That Deviate From the Norm to Assess Fit

The nature of interviews is slowly shifting again, in search of a better screening process.  Gone are the days where just having the right skills were enough to land a job.  And, gone are the days of a one-size fits all interview solution as more companies continue to deviate from traditional questions and paths in efforts to get a to a more suitable hire.

People aren’t sitting in a cubicle for 30 or 40 years at the same job anymore.  And, to combat increased turnover as new generations change jobs on average of every two to four years, companies are not only changing the way they manage talent, but shifting in how they identify the right talent for their teams.

Culture and fit have become increasingly important but the standard questions don’t always cut it in trying to figure out who is going to be successful in one organization versus another.

If you’re an interviewer struggling to get candidates to open up and have a more candid conversation so you can assess if they’re a good fit for your internal culture, it may be time to switch up the interview questions you’re asking to get past the fatigue of rehearsed responses.

And, for the candidates out there, if you’re going after coveted positions, top jobs, or trying to be competitive, it’s time to start getting real in the interview and being prepared for anything.  You’ve got to stay positive and focused on your goal of landing the job, but sometimes that requires letting your hair down and not being afraid of being approached with the unexpected.

Here’s a few questions that are making their way into job interviews in efforts to get more personal with candidates on a professional scale to see where they match up  with a company’s culture, values, ethics, and overall fit.

How happy are you, on a scale of one to 10?

As more and more research on positive psychology comes to light and showcases how happiness directly affects a company’s bottom line, don’t be surprised if employers are asking questions about a prospective employee’s happiness, job satisfaction, or content with various aspects of their life.

And, if common sense can chime in: don’t we all like to work with happy people anyway?  It makes the day more positive and productive.

But, don’t dismiss a candidate just because they’re not happy now.  Wait to hear their rebuttal.  You might just have a very proactive job seeker who’s fighting to find their happiness and in turn will fight to bring success to your company.

What is your ideal work environment?

Expect to get asked a question of this nature if you’ve been in the workforce awhile.  It’s a probing question that isn’t about having an office with a view, a hexicle versus a cubicle, or access to free coffee–it’s about what you look for under the surface.

As an interviewer, you may be trying to assess if a person is over or under qualified for a position or if their views on management or ethics is in line with the company’s. It’s also a question that can provide insights into creativity, adaptability, and collaborative views in the workplace.

Newbies to the workforce don’t often know how to answer this question because they haven’t had that much work experience.  But, if they’re ready for anything, they should be able to back up their response with what they think they want from based on other life experiences working with peers, teammates, coaches, teachers, and family.

What do your parents think about your career aspirations?

Just starting your career?  Be prepared for interviewers asking questions like these to shake your foundation and find out what you’re really made of.  Do you seek approval? Are you a wave maker? Do you follow a well worn path?  The only real right answer is the one you know inside to be true.

Interviewers, be wary of candidates who avoid answering or are insecure about the question.  If you like the candidate, make sure you find out the root of the insecurity, otherwise it could manifest into a bigger problem with productivity once hired.

Confidence is always a key quality in a job candidate.  You want people on board who are sure of themselves and their ability to succeed.

What is your most notable accomplishment?

Perhaps you can’t limit it to just one, but if you’re a job seeker you’d better have something to say!  People who can recognize success are better at figuring out how to replicate it or achieve it.

If you’re on the fence and can’t think of anything, it may be more of an attitude adjustment needed because big or small, everyone’s accomplished something.  And, remember it’s all in the eye of the beholder, so if it feels small, make sure you explain why it’s so significant to you.  Sometimes it’s the smallest things that have the biggest impact.

No, this isn’t exactly a new interview question, but it still makes even a well-rehearsed job seeker pause as it is a great character question.  Whether a candidate references previous job performance, a personal achievement, or a small sacrifice, you’re going to learn about what’s meaningful to them and on a deeper level that can provide a clearer look at how they will mesh with various leadership styles in the company.

On a scale of one to 10, how in control of your own destiny do you believe you are? (And do elaborate!)

Interviewers, you’d better hope your interview candidate’s numbers are high!  If they don’t believe they have control over their own life, how much impact do you think they’ll feel they have over day to day work?

If you’re looking for movers and shakers, doers who take action, look for people who not only choose high numbers but can back up their responses.  But, don’t be surprised if you get a job seeker on the other end of the spectrum who might blow you away in defense of destiny.

In either case, this question causes both the job seeker and the interviewer to ponder how they interact and impact the world around them.

Why do you get out of bed in the morning, come in to the office, and do this?

Do you have purpose and meaning in your life?  Is your job a part of that?  Is it for a greater cause like family? Is it to fill something inside of you?  Is it just to fill the hours in a day because you’d be bored otherwise?

Why do we get up and do the things we do? What motivates us?

Research shows that motivation is internally driven, but that’s not to say that your work environment doesn’t affect it. And, while everybody has different motivations, both sides of the table should be making sure that the right motivations are in place for everyone to be successful.

What is the worst thing that you’ve ever done and gotten away with?

This question can teeter on the TMI (Too Much Information) fence, but can also be a lot of fun in seeing where candidates line up on ethics, value, and character.

A safe response might come in the form of, “If I tell you, I wouldn’t exactly have gotten away with it, ” or, “We all have skeletons in our closet that we’re not proud of and I prefer to keep mine in the past, away from my future that I hope will be full of bests and not worsts.”

But, the sky is the limit on what an interviewer may hear, so again, don’t ask it if you’re faint of heart, because some candidates will let their guard down in their responses and forget they’re in an interview.

Whether that’s a plus or a minus is really all about the culture in your workplace.  A gut feeling tells me you’ll know instinctively whether you like their response or not.

What color best represents your personality?

Many people have favorite colors, but switching it up and asking about personality makes people dive deeper into what colors mean to them and represent as well as what they, as a person, feel they represent.

It’s a more abstract question that takes a direct approach to seeing how a candidate views their self.

In some companies it’s very important to have a strong sense of self to stand out or have a clear voice among collaborators.  In others, its more about fitting in and conforming to the status quo.  Does a candidate’s view of themselves fit into the landscape of the workforce?  And, as a candidate, do you have a clear view of that landscape and how you want to fit in?

Sure these questions can be a lot of fun and even entertaining, but never let the fun distract you from what you’re trying to uncover.  The hard part about introducing new questions to an interview is that one, you will undoubtedly catch candidates off guard from time to time, but this is all a part of the learning process and evaluating how they react to the situation.

And, two, for the interviewer, it’s a lesson in listening, hearing new responses your ear hasn’t been trained to tune out, and reading the subtleties between the words.

What interview questions have you been introducing to your process to gain more insights into the candidate?  And candidates, speak up!  What questions have you been asked that were interesting, thought provoking, or you hope you never get asked again on a job interview?

 

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