The key to fun interview questions
In addition to developing a few informal interview questions ahead of time, the key to getting the most from fun interview questions is to determine what kind of responses will indicate that a candidate will be a strong addition to your organization. Consider defining your ideal candidate before you start hiring for the role (i.e., what are the traits, skills and experience that will lead to success in the role?).
When asking fun interview questions, prompt candidates to elaborate on the “why” behind their response and encourage them to use the STAR interview format to relate their answer to a specific example of an experience they’ve had at work. It’s important to avoid asking questions that aren’t likely to be predictive of performance in a role (e.g., “What is your favorite movie?”).
Remember not to make final hiring decisions based on fun interview questions alone. Consider asking a mix of behavioral, cultural and situational questions to get a full understanding of each candidate. It’s also typically a good idea to conduct structured interviews where you ask the same questions to each candidate in the same order and grade them on a numeric scoring sheet.
Fun interview questions: Problem-solving
Problem-solving questions do not have a “right” or “wrong” response. Instead, they’re used to provide insight into someone’s thought process. Here are a few questions to try:
Would you rather fight one horse-sized duck or 100 duck-sized horses?
Regardless of whether they pick one or 100, it’s important you focus on how they arrived at their conclusion. Would they jump on the duck’s back and fly away? Or, would they climb up a tree, knowing that the horse-sized duck’s wings wouldn’t be large enough to support it? Examining their response can help you evaluate their critical thinking skills and creativity. Be sure to score each candidate’s response on a predefined rubric to help avoid bias.
If you could have any superpower, which would you choose and why? How would this superpower be useful in this role?
Asking this question can provide insight into which aspects of life are most important to a job candidate and can further illustrate the types of choices they may make on a day-to-day basis. If a candidate says they’d choose flying, this could indicate that they are courageous and adventurous. If a candidate chooses X-ray vision because they enjoy observing and have a good eye for detail, this may indicate that they’re analytical and curious.
Ask candidates to link this superpower to their work experience job they’re interviewing for. For example, a candidate might explain that having X-ray vision would allow them to take a step back and analyze situations from all angles. Or a candidate might choose shapeshifting as their superpower and explain that it would allow them to be adaptable and effectively tackle new tasks and challenges that come their way.
How would you move a lake from the foot of a mountain to a mountain top?
This question requires critical thinking, visualization skills and creative problem solving. Some candidates may say they’d use siphoning while others may recommend helicopter buckets. Highly creative responses to this question indicate that a candidate is imaginative, innovative and willing to explore unique solutions to solve new problems.
Before asking this question, make a list of the skills you’re specifically assessing with this question. Are you looking for creativity? Problem-solving skills? By defining the skills you’re looking for beforehand and using a predefined interview rubric to score each candidate, you can help avoid unconscious bias in your interviewing process.
If you were shrunk to the size of a paperclip and thrown into a glass of water, how would you get out?
This question will help you measure a candidate’s perseverance. If someone says they’d wait for the water to evaporate, it could indicate they’re more passive. While people who say they’d swim down and propel themselves off the bottom of the glass could be more tenacious.
There’s no “wrong” answer but a candidate’s thought process can tell you a lot about how they solve problems. Again, think about the soft skills your ideal candidate has, what you’re hoping to learn from this question and consider grading answers based on a scoring rubric.
Fun interview questions: Culture add
Instead of looking for a specific answer, use these cultural questions to determine if candidates share similar values but can also add something positive to your company culture. Before asking these questions, make sure you have a clear idea of the characteristics and personal strengths you’re seeking in a new employee.
Tell me a fun fact about yourself that could help you succeed in this role.
This question will help you learn something about an applicant that you won’t find on a resume. Maybe the applicant had a former career as a software developer that they never included on their resume. This might mean that their problem-solving approach is different from other candidates. Or perhaps the candidate teaches yoga as a hobby. This could suggest that they would be able to center your team in stressful situations. Maybe a candidate grew up in a different country, which could add a fresh perspective to your team.
What is the riskiest decision you’ve ever made in your career?
If you’re hiring for a marketing role, for example, you may be seeking a candidate who’s willing to take calculated risks, so look for creative responses like orchestrating an experimental guerrilla marketing campaign. However, if you’re hiring for a financial position, you may prefer a candidate who’s more risk-averse, so look for a response that shows the candidate prefers to mitigate risks.
Regardless of the role or department, it’s likely the employee you hire will eventually face a challenging decision. Asking this question can help you determine how candidates go about the decision-making process, including what information they consider and how closely they explore possible outcomes.
If you were an animal, which animal would you be? How do the characteristics of this animal relate to the job?
The answer is often a reflection of the candidate’s personality, but to get clarification on their reasoning, make sure to ask the “why” behind their response and ask them to connect it to the job they’re interviewing for. If someone says they would be a bunny because bunnies are adventurous, this might indicate that they are innovative and inquisitive. If someone says they would be a shark because they are “the kings of the ocean,” this may show that the applicant enjoys friendly competition.
Fun interview questions: Critical thinking
These questions gauge an applicant’s ability to apply logic, reasoning and critical thinking skills. Asking these questions can be especially useful when hiring for a sales or leadership position that requires employees to process information quickly and make well-informed, strategic decisions.
What is the first question I asked in this interview?
This is the best way to gauge someone’s short-term memory as well as their active listening skills. If the candidate answers with your first question verbatim, this may show that they have a sharp attention to detail.
Keep in mind, however, that interviews can be nerve-wracking for candidates, and they may not remember the question. If someone doesn’t remember your question, but rather comes up with a creative response, this shows confidence, quick-thinking and ingenuity. Remember, think about what you’re looking for in a response in advance to help you avoid unconscious bias.
What kind of shirt is our receptionist wearing?
In most types of positions, being aware of your surroundings is crucial, especially in customer- or client-facing roles. While recalling something as specific as someone’s clothing can be challenging, especially if the candidate didn’t engage or interact with them, asking this question can be helpful when interviewing roles that require a detail-oriented professional.
If a candidate can’t remember the receptionist’s shirt, don’t write them off. Do they try and guess the shirt type anyway? Do they admit to not knowing? These are all positive signs. However, it may be a red flag if the candidate appears angry or isn’t willing to answer the question.
Fun interview questions are useful for easing a candidate’s nerves and helping them feel more comfortable during their interview. But they can also help you uncover valuable information about a candidate, such as their problem-solving skills, culture add, critical thinking skills and ability to think quickly under pressure.