Is there a purpose for asking weird job interview questions? There is.

Popular brands like Google and Apple love using weird job interview questions in their interviews (and for pre-screening).

Why? While your initial reaction might be to dismiss them as “new-age” corporate nonsense, it’s important to note that weird interview questions actually serve a valuable purpose. And, many applicants and business leaders don’t realize they’re one of the best practices for hiring.

Here’s everything you need to know about:

  • weird job interview questions
  • how to implement them yourself
  • what they can do to improve candidate pre-screening


Weird interview questions and what they reveal

As an employer, you might have only heard of asking weird interview questions as a trend in the post-pandemic workplace. But, it’s important to remember they exist for a reason.

So what do these questions aim to reveal?

  • The candidate’s creative and critical thinking
  • Problem-solving when given unanticipated challenges
  • The candidate’s ability to stay calm under pressure
  • The candidate’s ability to be productive outside their comfort zone

Often, weird interview questions don’t have a right or wrong answer. So, you shouldn’t demand a definitive answer from your applicants. Instead, you should use them along with your applicant tracking system to store essential candidate data and note their answers, so that you can analyze them in detail later.

This will allow you to select the best candidates for the next stages of your talent acquisition process.

Tip: It’s important to keep your managers involved. Even if they don’t meet candidates until later in the process, they should be part of the discussion about whether weird questions make sense as part of the vetting process in your biz. Let them be a part of the brainstorming session to develop those questions.

This matters because it helps keep managers engaged in the hiring process and with the people who are hired. Engaging managers count because they’re the top reason new hires will stay – or go after you complete the hiring process.


Weird interview questions and how to answer them

What do common weird interview questions look like? Here are a few examples you can use (and optimize) for your pre-screening or preboarding strategy.

Q: If you grew up on Mars, how would you approach problems here on Earth?

A: The ideal candidate would approach this question by first researching Earth-specific challenges, learning about cause and effect on Earth, and then brainstorming unique solutions.

Q: Why are manhole covers round?

A: This is a pretty straightforward question that tests the candidate’s intellect. The answer is that round manhole covers cannot fall through the circular hole, and they’re easier to open and close than square ones. 

Q: How would you design a spice rack for the blind?

A: You want the answer to be two-fold. First, the candidate could conduct interviews with a large sample of people with a visual disability, and then propose putting braille labels on every shelf.


Goals and benefits of weird interview questions

There are many potential benefits to asking weird interview questions in your pre-screening stage, but the main benefits and goals are:

  • Talent segmentation and analysis
  • Easier shortlisting
  • Keeping interviewers engaged
  • Finding the right candidates to add to your unique company culture
  • Developing better pre-screening tactics over time

There are other benefits as well.

For example, you might want to ask questions that reveal how comfortable a potential new manager is to coaching employees one-on-one, or whether a candidate approaches problem-solving from a process-orientation (or from instinct). 

One important role of weird interview questions is hearing candidates speak about things that are important to your company, but that helps hiring managers avoid implicit bias in interview questions. After all, if you’re asking everyone about coming from Mars, there’s no embedded race, age, or gender in that question. 

You might be wondering what kind of weird questions to ask in an interview to achieve the best results — that will depend on your unique needs, job positions, and recruiting campaign. Here’s how you can implement challenging questions without driving candidates away.


How to implement these questions in your pre-screening process

People won’t always react well if you start asking off-beat questions without context or preparation.

So, position them just like you would any other part of your screening or employee onboarding process by giving them context, and putting them in the right sequence with other pieces of your conversation. This optimizes the candidate’s experience by easing them into your weird questions. 

Instead of just asking the question outright, set the stage by asking some “normal” questions first. When you start posing weird interview questions, give them context — don’t just watch the candidate squirm in their chair.

For example, you can let them know that there is no right or wrong answer. Or, you can encourage them to take their time, helping them steady their minds.

Consider using weird job interview questions in your pre-screening process to find the best candidates for your open roles. And make it fun; use the tips in this blog to build your own weird interview questions list.


Why I wrote this?

Ongig’s mission is to help you attract top talent. This starts with creating effective and inclusive JDs that increase your applicant pool. Once people apply, you can use weird interview questions to learn more about how they might work with your team.

This is a guest post from Nikola Sekulić  of Content Wizards:

Nikola is a seasoned brand developer, writer, and storyteller. Over the last decade, he’s worked on various marketing, branding, and copywriting projects – crafting plans and strategies, writing creative online and offline content, and making ideas happen. When he is not working for clients around the world, he is exploring new topics and developing fresh ideas to turn into engaging stories for the online community.

Nikola Sekulic

by in Hiring