Are you tired of asking the same boring questions in each job interview? These strange questions can help you understand who the people you are interviewing really are.
7 min read
It is difficult to find quality candidates who are going to have a great performance and who are going to work well with your existing team. It takes time and effort to do a good search: upload ads on work networks, then read hundreds of profiles and messages. And this just to see who is worth interviewing.
But how could you use the interview process to make sure your company hires the best person for the position? Above all, are you asking the right questions, and how can you tell if you are listening to the answers you need?
Leaders like Elon Musk, Reid Hoffman and Jeff Bezos often ask totally unusual questions when interviewing candidates, and that is because these questions allow them to see how these people would solve a problem in real time. You can see how the person's mind works, and in the same interview, learn much more than what can be read in a CV.
Here we present five unusual questions that make entrepreneurs very successful for their candidates. They may seem strange to you, but that is why they have worked to build incredible teams.
1. How many times have you used LSD?
We agree that this question is not precisely professional, and we recommend using it with extreme caution.
However, according to Andy Hertzfeld, co-creator of Macintosh, Steve Jobs really used this question when he was interviewing a candidate who seemed too square or boring for his liking. (It is also said that Jobs began to squawk the candidate as if he were a turkey, another practice that we do not recommend either.)
Although questions about substance abuse (or croaking) may be unproductive, questions that disarm the candidate may be useful. For example, Warby Parker co-CEO David Gilboa likes to ask this question in the interviews: “What was the last costume you used?”
Gilboa does not care about the disguise, the question is not intended to judge the tastes of the person, but the enthusiasm and reasoning that may exist in his response. Hopefully, this enthusiasm could move to work. Also, if you can get the candidate to relax you could get more complete and honest answers the rest of the interview.
2. Tell me something that is true and about which almost no one agrees with you.
Peter Thiel, co-founder of PayPal and LinkedIn, likes to use this question to test the interviewee's value and originality. While Jobs used to make the candidate feel uncomfortable, Thiel simply trusts how awkward the interview environment is, and wants to know if the candidate can go beyond that discomfort and explain a belief with which his interviewer may not agree.
You can use this question to judge the passion and level of persuasion in the respondent's response. Most likely, this enthusiasm moves to their job, and it is important to have people who are not afraid to say what they think.
And just as important, you can use this question to assess whether the answer is original and interesting.
You don't want a person who likes to speak simply by listening to his own voice.
Employees who know how to speak when they have something to say and who know how to listen when they are not valuable and infrequent, regardless of their position. This question helps you identify them.
3. What would you like to do when you leave this company?
Reid Hoffman said in The Alliance: Managing Talent in the Networked Age, that this is his favorite question.
This question is unique, in part because it implies that you know that the candidate will leave your company at some point, because being honest, unless you hire a director, chances are that the candidate has other long-term goals in mind. And this is good, because a person with ambitions will work better to have a better position.
In addition, most of the questions in this article help you evaluate if the person is good for the job you need, but this one does not, it helps you know if you are going to be a good boss for this candidate.
And it shows the candidate that you care as a person, something that can be very important to have a better interview and to have a good relationship with the person you end up hiring.
4. You stand on the surface of the Earth. You walk one kilometer to the south, one to the west and one to the north. You end up exactly where you started. Where are you?
You can probably assume that this question comes from Elon Musk (specifically from the biography written by Ashlee Vance), considering that it begins by saying “You are standing on the surface of the Earth.”
Why is it a good question for your company? For two reasons.
The first, because you can get an objectively wrong answer. Asking questions that determine the competence of the candidate can distinguish those who really know what they are talking about.
The second is that it is a good question because it has two answers.
The first answer is the North Pole. Since the Earth is a sphere, if you walk one kilometer to the south, then another to the west and then another to the north, you will return to the North Pole. You could walk millions of kilometers or zero kilometers to the west, and you would end up in the same place.
The second answer is any place that is approximately 2.12 (1+ [1 / pi]) kilometers north of the South Pole. If you walk a kilometer to the south, you will approach the South Pole. Then, when you walk a kilometer to the west, you will have completed a full turn before walking north and returning to the place where you started.
Two answers, based on the same premise, but one is less obvious than the other.
You can change the format of the question so that it has more to do with your company, but the point is to know if your candidate will have a complete answer or will be satisfied with a partial answer.
5. How would you make money with an ice cream cart in Central Park?
Yasmin Green, director of research and development at the Alphabet Jigsaw incubator (formerly Google Ideas), likes to use this open question in which candidates have to be creative and think quickly to answer in an interesting way, while having To be realistic enough to create a good solution.
It is also a good question because it is fun and relaxed, something ideal for a brand like Alphabet.
When preparing questions for your vacancies, think about your company and its work culture. Are you more casual or formal? Whatever the case, your questions should reflect it.
For example, if you are interviewing highly qualified candidates in a highly competitive field, you may not need to ask them many questions about LSD. And definitely don't start squawking.