Top 10 Creative Interview Questions
Why Do Recruiters Ask Creative Interview Questions?
We often prepare for interviews by running through the same types of questions we’ve heard numerous times before. Questions about your career, your education, and what you intend to achieve in the position you have applied for.
These types of questions are fairly straightforward. They are not necessarily designed to test or even find out much more about you. They are simply included to see if you match the basic criteria.
The way employers find out more about your personality is through unorthodox questions. Putting a potential employee on the spot forces a creative response and can give the employer an indication of how a potential candidate deals with unexpected circumstances.
These types of creative questions can also help to remove the natural feelings of stress in an interview situation.
A creative question can get a candidate on to an interesting topic. It can also help to ease the conversation between the interviewer and the interviewee.
It is not only the potential candidate who suffers from nerves. Those conducting the interview may also feel apprehensive about the process.
They may even feel tired of asking the same questions repeatedly, particularly if they have been conducting interviews most of the day.
An unexpected question may make the process more enjoyable for all concerned and help provide an insight into an employer’s culture and individual personality.
In this article, we will look at 10 types of creative questions and how you can navigate them as an interviewer and a potential candidate.
Top 10 Creative Interview Questions
These questions can be easily changed to fit a certain narrative or style of interview.
The most important aspect of these questions is the way they can be used to draw the conversation away from the usual interview format.
They can also be quite challenging, so if you do use these questions, be prepared to expect a range of answers.
1. “If You Were Stuck on an Island, What Is the One Item You Would Take With You and Why?”
This is quite a typical question and can be framed in multiple ways. The aim is to make the candidate think about extremities.
Whether a barren island or a paradise, the question helps the interviewer understand what the candidate prioritizes.
The answers can sometimes be humorous, but they can also be heartfelt and can give you an insight into what matters most to the candidate.
2. "If You Could Wake Up Tomorrow and Change One Thing, What Would It Be?"
Giving the candidate the idea that they can change something quickly may show what the candidate’s greatest concerns are either personally or socially.
The range of answers could include a relationship with a friend or something to do with a fundamental problem in a community.
A candidate may take some time to navigate their answer, so prepare yourself for a long response.
It may also reveal more about what a candidate sees in themselves. If they focus on a personal issue, you will likely highlight a perceived weakness or fear.
3. “What Is the One Thing You Hate About Interviews?”
This question may slightly alarm the potential candidate, but that might be necessary to push them out of their comfort zone.
Asking a candidate what they do not like about interviews will allow them to express their fears. Further, it can act as an icebreaker, settling any nerves.
The question can also help the candidate see a personal touch from those conducting the interview. These types of questions can break the formal barriers that sometimes restrict answers.
Be prepared for an answer that might not be impressive. With honest questions, you should expect honest answers.
4. “Tell Me About Something Funny That Has Happened to You Recently”
Asking a candidate to revisit a memory or a time they consider funny will allow the interviewers to observe certain patterns of speech.
A monologue or narrative like a story will often place a candidate at the center of a story. From this position, they will frame their experience, others involved and their perception of the experience.
What’s more, asking a candidate to relate something funny gives you an idea of their personality. They will unconsciously look for a story that they believe the audience – in this case, the interviewers – will find funny.
It also gives everybody a break from the orthodox questions.
5. “Would You Rather…?”
Whether you are asking a candidate to choose between two types of food or two different scenarios, this question forces the candidate to think on their feet.
Posing ultimatums like this can be fun, but they also give an insight into a candidate’s key personality traits.
If a candidate is quick to answer and can clearly explain why they have chosen the answer they have, then you have someone who can potentially make good decisions.
On the other hand, if they are ambivalent and avoidant, they probably don’t like making decisions.
Depending on what you are looking for in a candidate, these types of questions can help you analyze the decision-making skills of an interviewee.
6. “What Were Your First Impressions of Me/Us When You Walked In?”
Like the question on what they don’t like about interviews, asking for a first impression may give you a surprising answer.
The difference with this type of question is that it is not loaded. You are not asking for an opinion as such, and the candidate can work around the question more easily.
It also allows the interviewers to observe the interpersonal skills of a candidate. From these questions, you can begin to sense how aware a candidate is of standards and decorum, and how willing they are to impress someone.
This question is a bit of a paradox. Getting favorable answers may show a candidate’s reliance on flattery. In contrast, a harsh yet honest answer may offend, but it could highlight how much a candidate is willing to say.
Be cautious when using this question.
7. “Tell Me About a Time Where You Were Not at Your Best”
As with the previous question, one must be cautious when posing a question that highlights a potential difficulty.
The answer provided could be personal, or it could be related to work, depending on how the interview is shaping up. Whatever answer is given, you must allow it to fully develop.
Don’t ask this question too early in the interview. Wait until you have built some rapport, or you will not get an open response.
Questions that relate to difficult scenarios are great insights into how a candidate has dealt with adversity. They can also portray a candidate’s character well, so if you are looking for someone with strong soft skills, make the most of these types of questions.
8. “If You Could Only Read or Watch One Thing for the Rest of the Month, What Would It Be?”
This is another question that forces a specific response from a candidate. Depending on who is being interviewed, they may have a prepared answer to impress the interviewers.
The focus on a book, movie or television series is a good question because it is something most candidates can answer.
It is also a fun question where you might get an answer that sparks an interviewer’s interest, allowing the conversation to develop freely.
9. “If You Had the Choice to Be Anywhere in the World, Where Would You Go?”
Unlike the other questions that are based around forcing a candidate to give a specific response, this question is rooted more in experience.
Asking a candidate to choose a destination may invoke them to recall an experience or a memory.
The answers to this question can be long, but they are good insights into what matters to a candidate. They are also entertaining as they allow a candidate to recall a narrative.
On the other hand, they may choose a location that they have no experience of. In this case, a candidate is highlighting their prospects.
The destination given in this question is only a part of the answer. Interviewers using this must listen carefully to the back story behind the location as that gives more insight into the candidate.
10. “If You Could Learn One Skill Overnight, What Would It Be?”
A language, a hobby, or even a superpower is a good way of measuring what the candidate wants and how committed they are to personal development.
Asking the candidate to name one skill is in some ways asking them about their deeper desires and ambitions. Even in the flightier of answers, a candidate will give the interviewer an idea of what they prioritize.
This questions is usually best towards the end of the interview as they are more supplementary and give an understanding of what a candidate wants to learn.
How to Approach These Questions
Each question has a different purpose, and you must understand what the question is ultimately designed to get from a candidate.
If an interviewer asks questions with little idea behind what they are aimed at, then much of the candidate’s core beliefs and personality traits will be missed.
Moral questions like asking about changing things outside of the remit of human possibility determine the candidate’s views of the world.
Questions asking a candidate to portray a difficulty in their lives can show how a candidate navigates challenges and what they consider to be morally compromising.
Those questions that offer a choice force candidates to make decisions. These questions can be used as icebreakers, but they also point towards traits such as impulsivity and confidence.
The questions that invite a candidate to retell a story can produce long answers, so don’t use too many of these if time is limited. If you are asking for a funny scenario in someone’s life, don’t follow with a question about a challenging time.
Ensure that you use a range of questions in an interview including orthodox ones about experience, qualifications and reasons for applying, as well as more creative ones.
Doing this will make the interview more engaging and will help interviewers better understand the candidate’s personality.
The fun questions should be used between the challenging or less interesting questions. Variety is the best approach when using creative interview questions.
Top Tips for Using Creative Interview Questions
Now that we have outlined how to approach these questions and what they tend to look like, it is important to review how you as an interviewer can use them.
Here are our top tips for using creative questions:
- Plan them beforehand – Do not go in cold or unprepared; understand what you are going to be asking.
- Stick to a certain number – Ensure that you have a certain number of creative questions you want to hit. Too few or too many will defeat the purpose of the interview.
- Use a variety of questions – A challenging question should be countered by a fun icebreaker. Do not include only one type.
- Follow up on answers – Some answers may need to be teased out; others may be worth building on. Be prepared to ask question upon question.
- Do not pressure the interviewee – If you have asked something that surprises the candidate, give them time and space to respond.
- Expect the unexpected – Creativity invites personality, so do not be surprised if you receive answers that throw you off guard.
The interview is a staple element of all job applications. However, what you make of it can really bring out the best in a candidate.
Asking creative questions is thought-provoking. They also change the narrative of an interview.
Finding out what is truly at the heart and mind of a candidate is hard by asking standard questions alone. The creative questions proposed in this article will help you gather further insight into your candidates.