5 Unexpected Interview Questions You Should Be Asking


Still using the same worn-out set of job interview questions you found in a Google search five years ago? If so, you’re more than likely getting the same over-rehearsed answers again and again. We all know the importance of hiring for fit, but it’s hard to get a sense of who someone really is when they’ve prepared their answers in advance.

Incorporating unexpected interview questions can be revealing, and uncover qualities and values that might not otherwise come up.

So what DO you ask? Hint: Questions about which Game of Thrones character a candidate identifies with or what type of salad dressing they’d be might not actually tell you what you need to know. Our approach? Ask thought-provoking questions that will tell you something about who a candidate is, what makes them tick, and how they might respond in likely job scenarios.

Here are 5 of our favourite unexpected interview questions:

1. What didn’t you get a chance to include on your resume that you think we should know?

This question is great for getting more information about the person behind the piece of paper you’re looking at. Shedding light on outside interests can help you get a more complete picture of what a candidate is passionate about, what motivates them, and how they might fit with your organization.

2. If I got you to call your previous employer right now and got you to introduce us, what would they say about you?

Of course, you’re not very likely to actually make a candidate call their former employer and introduce you during a job interview, but a candidate’s reaction to your bluff can be telling. Since you’re already going to be checking references for potential employees, why not get a preview of what they’re likely to say? If a candidate hesitates, or seems overly concerned about the idea of potentially having you speak with a previous employer, it could be a red flag and an indication to do some digging.

3. What is something you’d be happy doing every single day for the rest of your career?

Typically, people are happiest when they’re working to their strengths, so the activities they enjoy doing at work can be revealing. This question works twofold by highlighting areas of strength, as well as areas of personal interest. And after all, a happy employee = an engaged employee.

Unexpected interview questions can uncover values that might not otherwise come up #HireForFit.

4. Tell me about your relationships with people you’ve worked with. Best ones? Worst ones? Why?

Asking about working relationships gives you insight into interpersonal skills and how people interact with others. There’s no right or wrong answer, so look for answers that feel genuine and authentic, and values and motivators that will work with your organization’s culture. For more on how to articulate your core values and find a culture fit, Click here.

5. What’s the one question you don’t want me to ask you?

Self awareness is key, and there’s no better way to gauge how self-aware and emotionally competent a candidate is than to watch them decide how they’re going to answer this question.

A word of caution: Job interviews are already inherently nerve-wracking, and when an employer adds in a few off-beat interview questions, the experience can become terrifying for some.

Unexpected questions are designed to get deeper answers, but proceed with care to make sure you’re not inadvertently throwing more introverted candidates under the bus. Some people are more verbally adept than others, but that’s not necessarily a reliable predictor of good job performance. So phrase your curveball questions gently, and allow candidates ample time to think and respond, to avoid accidentally weeding out potential talent.

Your Engaged Assignment: Planning to grow your team? Take a critical look at your interview question templates before the interview stage. If a question doesn’t get right to the heart of what you need to know to hire the right fit, replace it for one that will.

Know you need to switch up your interview questions but not sure where to start? Give us a call, we’d be happy to help you improve your recruitment process!