IN THE MIDDLE | career advancement

5 Questions to Spice up the Interview Process and Hire Better

By Alyanna Silvestre
Published March 16, 2022

Job interviews are a crucial part of the hiring process and are vital to the success of the company. It's a way for employers and hiring managers to determine if a qualified applicant is a good match for the company and the position they are applying for. I'm sure you know that, and I'm almost certain that you're also aware of how it can be quite tricky not just for the candidates but also for interviewers.

On the one hand, using common and basic interview questions will probably not do enough justice to the quest of finding the best candidate for a job as an applicant can just quickly research "interview questions" and prepare a perfect, polished, and rehearsed response.

On the other hand, adding creativity and quirkiness – originality, if you may – to your question may just leave you with a bunch of random and unrelated information about the applicant that you don't really need nor want to be aware of.

To save you from either of the two, the key is to cover the basics and put a pinch of unusualness into the mix. Here are some uncommon interview questions applicants probably (and hopefully) have no rehearsed answer for that you can ask during a job interview that will allow you to evaluate the character of potential hires:

In five minutes, could you explain something complicated but you know well?

          Basically, this can serve not only as a test of intelligence and communication skills, but a peek into their creativity and interests, which can help you evaluate whether their personality fits in the company. This question can be about anything, and their response doesn't have to be related to work or the position they are applying for. Let them discuss whatever they want to, but pay attention to what they consider 'complicated' and how they explain and articulate their chosen subject to someone who's supposedly not as knowledgeable as them about the topic.

          What's a skill that you have but others don't know about?

            Asking this question to a candidate will give you an idea of what they are like beyond the workplace. This will allow you to get a glimpse of just how creative, dedicated, passionate and strategic they are, especially if their hidden skill is related to hobbies and specific interests such as art, music, debates, or even board games, which require consistency and continuous practice.

            What will you do if you don't get this role? What's your backup plan?

              Candidates usually anticipate the question, "What can we expect from you if you get hired?" So, why not surprise them with this twist? This third suggestion poses an inquiry into their attitude, determination, and resilience when things don't turn out how they'd hoped, letting you know how a candidate deals with obstacles and failures.

              What has surprised you about this interview process so far?

                The answer to this question is probably this very question, really, because it's one that no candidate can really prepare for. After all, they came here to impress you and get hired, not share how they feel. So, dropping this question suddenly may give you some indication of what candidates think and how they are feeling about the interview or hiring process, and maybe even about you, the professionals they bumped into on the way to the interview, or something that's not physical.

                What question are you glad I didn't ask?

                  Every candidate has some question that they subconsciously hope you wouldn't bring up. Ask them what it is, and you're instantly handed with information about their comfort zone, and maybe even a sudden appreciation from the candidate's end for you for respecting their privacy or whatever it is that they're glad you did not pry into. 

                  This last unusual bit also serves as a test of how honest, vulnerable but put-together, and confident they can speak their minds in front of decision-makers, so pay attention to their delivery and choice of words. 

                  And that's five; you're good to go! Just don't forget to cover the basics, though. A little fun and quirkiness may help you to really get to know candidates thoroughly, but knowing their weaknesses, testing their knowledge of the job and the industry, and investigating their previous professional experiences still matter to truly assess whether they would flourish in your company or wither away.