3 Unexpected Interview Questions You Should Consider Asking

Interviewing candidates is an important step in the hiring process, but it quickly can become mundane and boring for both you and your interviewee. To keep things fresh, and learn more about the candidate than you might have expected, try slipping in a few unexpected interview questions. Here are three to consider.

“Tell Me a Story (Not Necessarily Work-Related) That Shows Your Values”

Hiring managers are often heavily focused on skills and experience, but those are only part of the story. In order for a candidate to “fit” with your organization, he or she also needs to share your company values. But just asking someone to list their values doesn’t tell you much since people tend to pick what they think are the “right” answers.

Asking someone to share a story taps into their authentic, deeper self. Don’t get caught up in the details of the story. Instead, reflect on what it says about who the person is and how they handle situations.

“How Long Are You Willing to Fail?”

This is one of those unexpected interview questions without an obvious right answer, so it will make the candidate think. It’s also a good way to judge both work ethic and self-awareness. Good candidates either say that they’ll keep trying until they succeed or talk about a logical off-ramp that includes milestones. It can also encourage candidates to discuss mistakes they may have made and how they recovered.

Weaker candidates may say that they won’t or don’t fail or that they’ll give up if they aren’t instantly good at something. Or they may simply dodge the question altogether.

“It’s Exactly One Year from Today. What Are You Doing?”

This question can tell you two things. First, what are the candidate’s future plans? Does she want to remain in the position you’re hiring for long-term? Is she hoping to move up within a year? Or does she plan to be far away, doing something completely different 12 months from now?

Additionally, the question can help you determine a candidate’s confidence level. Can she answer quickly and decisively? Is she self-assured? Many positions require fast decision-making on limited information, so they are best suited to candidates who know how to think on their feet. Even if the role doesn’t require quick decision-making, confidence can also propel employees to ask questions, try new ideas, and test limits…all of which can help your business succeed.


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