Oddball Interview Questions: Do Off-the-Wall Inquiries Help?

 Off-the-Wall Interview Questions

Tired of receiving canned answers from job interviewees? Get creative and consider tossing some curveball interview questions into the mix.

A recent Mashable post about off-the-wall interview questions is generating quite a buzz in hiring networks. The piece covers Glassdoor’s recently released Top 10 Oddball Interview Questions for 2015. Among the queries: “If you were asked to unload a 747 full of jelly beans, what would you do?” (asked at Bose), along with, “Who would win in a fight between Spider-Man and Batman?” (asked at Stanford University).

While they are amusing, is it truly worthwhile to include off-the-wall interview questions in a job interview? Yes, it can be if your query helps you uncover specific insights that more standard questions may not reveal.

Asking curveball interview questions helps go beyond the surface

Asking atypical interview questions — as Robert Half’s Billie Watkins pointed out in a recent TV interview — helps hiring managers dig deeper and see how a job candidate’s mind works.

After all, savvy job candidates are often prepared with scripted answers to common interview questions. And when interviewees are too rehearsed, it makes it difficult to learn about them and how they think.

You want to find out what makes people tick and understand how they might deal with tricky workplace challenges when the pressure is on. Asking unexpected questions allows you to prompt an applicant to divulge details about his or her leadership and problem-solving skills. It’s a way to see how interviewees arrive at solutions on the spot, and it can help you differentiate between candidates and better understand their respective critical thinking skills.

Get creative in writing your interview questions

Managers, as you prepare for interviews, jot down a few potential oddball interview questions. Design them to elicit a response that will help you get to know candidates better, build rapport, and put them in a setting in which they’re not typically comfortable. Then narrow the list down to one or two questions that make the most sense for the position for which you are hiring.

Pay close attention to the responses. Does the candidate smile and run with it or tense up and get flustered? What’s the person’s thought process like? Does he or she have a sharp sense of humor? Off-the-wall interview questions can help reveal applicants’ interpersonal abilities and serve as launching points into different topics you may not have thought to cover. In addition, offbeat queries can help you gauge the individual’s potential fit with your team.

Don’t throw caution to the wind, however. If you get too wrapped up in tossing curveballs, you risk neglecting critical interview questions about the skills and experience needed to do the job successfully.

A note to job candidates: leave the oddball questions to the interviewer

The takeaway for job seekers is to recognize that you can’t prepare for every single question you’ll be asked. And that’s OK. But expect the unexpected and be aware that the hiring manager at your next job interview just might sprinkle in a couple of these unusual questions. Aim to provide responses that show that you are poised, at ease with yourself and capable of thinking on your feet.

As Billie Watkins suggests, recruiters value honesty at every stage. Hiring managers take life experience into account as well as one’s ability to speak his or her truth and be creative in coming up with solutions to problems.

Even if you don’t think you know the right answer, your willingness to formulate a response speaks volumes about your ability to roll with the punches.

Just make sure you don’t pose any peculiar questions yourself.

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Tags: Interviewing