Wacky interview questions may help employers hire the best workers

More and more employers are asking unconventional interview questions in efforts to get to know candidates better. While traditional interview questions are a great way to open an interview, unconventional questions help a hiring manager dig deeper. Read this article for more on how unconventional questions may help hire the best workers.


The job prospect has aced all the standard interview questions, but off-the-wall questions may be the best trick employers can use to glean insight into how a hot prospect thinks.

Imagine that a candidate has skillfully answered what his top strengths and some weaknesses are. Now consider asking: "Would you rather fight one horse-sized duck, or 100 duck-sized horses?" Or, what would that candidate do if she found a penguin in the freezer? Could she guess how many basketballs would fit inside the interview room?

While traditional interview questions are a great way of opening the interview and making a candidate feel comfortable, unconventional questions can move the interview beyond a rote Q&A session to an authentic conversation that can help a hiring manager learn more about a candidate.

These questions may sound like they are from some wacky game show. But they are real interview questions being asked by today’s employers. These questions aim to dig deeper and get to know the candidates better.

These questions are intended to surface information related to a candidate’s ability to problem-solve and understanding their motivations. Unusual job interview questions typically don’t have any right or wrong answers. These questions are an opportunity for candidates to demonstrate that they can think fast on their feet, show poise under stress, think outside the box, and reveal more of their personality.

This can also be a great way to assess culture fit. A question that asks a candidate “if they could be any animal, what would it be and why?” can provide insight into a job seeker’s personality and thought process. Understanding these attributes is key to determining whether or not a candidate would mesh well with company culture.

Unconventional questions don’t have to be completely off the wall. Instead of asking a candidate about their greatest weakness, hiring managers should consider asking things like, “what did you learn about yourself in your previous role?” and “what challenges did you face in this role and how did you overcome them?” Answers to these questions provide the hiring manager with visibility into how a candidate learns from different situations, as well as their ability to problem-solve.

Enhancing candidate experience is another good reason to ask unusual interview questions. Repeating the same questions through several rounds of interviews is not only tedious for the candidate, but it does not reflect well on the employer brand. Changing questions up will make the process more engaging and valuable for both the candidate and the hiring manager.

An unconventional approach to interview questions should not be overused nor should these types of questions be asked for the sole purpose of throwing a candidate off guard. Each question should be aimed at gaining a clear understanding of a candidate’s work style, values and motivations to determine if they are a good organizational fit.

While interview questions like "how would you sell hot cocoa in Florida?" or “if you were on an island and could only bring three things, what would you bring?” are certainly unconventional, hiring managers are now using this approach to elicit natural, unrehearsed responses that reveal more about candidates from how they think and how they react under stress, to their personality and what motivates them. Digging deeper and getting to know candidates with unconventional interview questions provides valuable insights that can help hiring managers make the best hires for their organization.

SOURCE: Blanco, M. (13 December 2019) "Wacky interview questions may help employers hire the best workers" (Web Blog Post). Retrieved from https://www.benefitnews.com/opinion/wacky-interview-questions-may-help-employers-hire-the-best-workers


Working interviews: How hiring trend can cause compliance issues

The federal government prefers that companies do not bring in applicants for a working interview and without paying them. Continue reading this blog post to learn how this hiring trend can cause compliance issues for companies.


News flash: The feds don’t like it when you bring in “applicants” for a “working interview” – and then refuse to pay them for the work they perform.

The lesson is going to cost a Nashville dental practice $50,000 after a settlement in federal district court.

The practice will pay $50k in back wages and liquidated damages to 10 employees for FLSA minimum wage, overtime and recordkeeping violations.

According to the DOL’s Wage and Hour Division, Smiley Tooth Spa:

  • violated the federal minimum wage requirements by requiring candidates for hire to perform a “working interview” to conclude their application, but failed to pay the individuals for those hours worked
  • failed to pay registered dental assistants and hygienists time-and-a-half for hours worked over 40 in a workweek
  • authorized their accountant to falsify and alter time and payroll records to make it appear that the employer was paying proper overtime for all hours worked, and
  • periodically required employees to attend training during their scheduled lunch breaks without paying them for that time.

THE CARDINAL RULE

Although it’s hard to believe that any employer could think such an approach could fly in this day and age, this case is a good reminder that people who perform duties for the benefit of any organization are, almost universally, entitled to be paid.

Even if they aren’t yet considered an “official” employee, they’re performing the work of one, and must be paid for it.

Some good news: With working interviews, employers don’t necessarily have to pay the position’s advertised salary. The law only says workers must receive at least minimum wage for their work, so companies do have some flexibility.

SOURCE: Cavanaugh, L. (1 March 2019) "Working interviews: How hiring trend can cause compliance issues" (Web Blog Post). Retrieved from http://www.hrmorning.com/working-interviews-how-hiring-trend-can-cause-compliance-issues/