Weird Interview Questions are a Fad, not a Strategy

Weird interview questions don’t work. I had to say it. See, someone pitched the 25 weird interview questions article at Glassdoor to me, but that’s not my thing. See, I actually think that asking job-relevant questions will get you more mileage than “What is your favorite song?” And if you’ve been here long, you know I care more about culture fitthan about job qualifications in some cases. So why am I against these types of questions? Because they don’t work. I think I said that already, right?

WHAT WEIRD INTERVIEW QUESTIONS REALLY MEASURE

All these sorts of things really measure is a candidate’s willingness to answer dumb questions. It doesn’t assess culture fit. I’ll say it again: asking someone how many manhole covers are in San Francisco is not a measure of culture fit. It is not a measure of how they will do the job they are interviewing for. It wastes their time and yours.

ASSESSING CULTURE FIT WITHOUT THE WEIRD INTERVIEW QUESTIONS

If you really I want to assess culture fit with interview questions then follow this two step process:

  1. define your core values
  2. ask questions that focus on those aspects

And that’s it.

USING CORE VALUES TO DEVELOP INTERVIEW QUESTIONS

For example one of our core values is honesty and integrity through open communications. To assess the person’s fit with that sort of core value I will ask them how they handle difficult conversations with coworkers. I will include behavioral questions to assess previous situations where they had to be open and honest, even if it hurt at the time. Here’s another example: another one of our core values is unequivocal excellence. For that I could ask the person how they further themselves outside the workplace or how they pursue excellence in other areas of their life (asking what sports they play and then following up with a “how do you handle x situation in those events” works just as well as asking someone about a specific work task. You are looking for specific behaviors, not what sports they like. It’s a cover for what you are truly trying to understand about the person. Asking them what sort of dog they would like to be is irrelevant and insulting. Want to ask them something to see how they think? Define a problem that simulates one that you experience commonly in the organization, then get them to walk you verbally through the steps of how they would solve it. That short exercise will tell you more about the person’s potential fit for the opening than any number of questions about animals, vegetation, etc. Want to learn about a candidate? Ask real questions with real purpose. 



About the Author

Ben has been blogging since 2009, and he enjoys writing, speaking, and training on HR, leadership, culture, and humorous topics (an HR profession is tough enough without the laughs, right?). Ben started writing because he wanted to help make the HR profession better, one HR pro at a time. Since then, he's built a community of over 20,000 monthly readers, written over a dozen eBooks, and co-founded an HR unconference. Today, he runs a business focused on helping HR technology vendors and service companies understand how to connect with the HR audience.

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