Quirky Interview Questions — Effective or a Waste?


To find the hottest talent, many hiring managers and recruiters are casting aside traditional interview questions for quirky and unusual brain teasers. Interviewers use these unorthodox questions in hopes of gaining more insight into candidates’ potential. As with any hiring practice, there are both supporting and opposing opinions, with an ongoing debate on whether the method is a useful technique or just smoke and mirrors.

Quirky Questions and Why They Work

CEOs from the world’s most successful companies have revealed their best and most original interview tactics, expressing why they believe others should incorporate them into their hiring processes. The questions range from insightful to absurd, all with the intent of cracking interviewees’ polished exteriors and delving deeper into their personalities.

Some human resources teams throw at a candidate, believing that everything they need to know lies in the individual’s reaction to one brain teaser with endless answer possibilities. For these questions, hiring managers look less at candidates’ responses and more at how they interpret the question and where their minds take them in coming up with answers. Although recognizing that there is no right or wrong response to abstract questions, these interviewers are curious to discover a candidate’s thinking style and approach.

Other HR teams ditch traditional interview questions altogether, instead grilling candidates with an extensive list of off-the-wall questions. These teams believe that a candidate’s ability to freestyle creative and insightful answers demonstrates two things: that he or she can roll with whatever the job might dish out, and that he or she is eager to play along in an unconventional scenario.

Why Unusual Interview Questions Fall Flat

On the other side of the debate, many are convinced that nouveau brain teasers don’t work. Instead of out-there questions, these hiring teams strongly believe in the effectiveness of traditional interviews.

Unorthodox interview questions are certainly not what previous generations have heard. Hiring managers opposed to unusual questions see them as a flash-in-the-pan interviewing trend that, after its five minutes of fame, will quickly pass in favor of a tried-and-true strategy.

For the conservative interviewer, brain teasers and oddball questions simply don’t belong in an interview. These questions, many believe, are a waste of time for both parties because they reveal little about a candidate’s ability to perform in the role. The traditionalist believes that weird questions don’t highlight an interviewee’s strengths and weaknesses, nor do they provide insight into past work experience.

The Bottom Line

As any hiring manager or recruiter knows, there is no such thing as the perfect set of interview questions. Regardless of your strategy, no foolproof methods exist for screening candidates and nailing every hiring decision. Interviews are a subjective exercise designed to familiarize a company with a candidate as much as possible, with each company constantly working to develop a fail-safe strategy. In the debate for or against wacky interview questions, to each his own. If your team believes your interview tactics are the best for the company, keep at it and you’ll find the right candidates for your organization.

Alisiana Peters

Author: Alisiana Peters

Alisiana is a senior marketing coordinator at HiringThing, an award-winning online recruiting software provider dedicated to changing the way businesses hire talent. Questions? Contact HiringThing Marketing.