Posted by Andrew Morris on 09 October 2014
Old gems such as, “Where do you see yourself in five years?” and “What's your greatest weakness?” are supposed to give insight into your candidate, but all they're likely to elicit now is a stale, over-rehearsed response.
See how well your candidates can think on their feet by introducing a few curveballs into your interviews.
Piling on the pressure
In an interview with The New York Times, Ron Kaplan of outdoor deck manufacturer Trex revealed one of his methods for getting to know an interviewee who has travelled from out of town – asking them to drive his car to lunch. This not only gives him an idea of how well they cope with taking control in a new city, but also provides him with the opportunity to ask questions during the journey to find out how well they multitask.
Take a leaf out of his book and start giving your candidates the kind of unusual challenges that reveal more about their personalities.
Great ways to reveal character
If you can't justify a drive or trip out of the office, why not conduct your interview at the same time as a tour of your building? This creates a more casual atmosphere and tests whether your interviewee can perform while on the move in unfamiliar surroundings.
Alternatively, stay at your desk, but give your interview a cyber edge – invite your candidate to join you in a virtual world to see how well they'll stand up in the real one. Conduct this portion of the interview in person or online and choose a computer game that will allow you to test team skills, the ability to work under pressure and creative problem-solving.
You can achieve a similar effect with offline games. Energise the office with a Nerf gun battle to put your interviewee to the test or ask some of your most searching questions over a few hands of poker – you'll soon find out how adept candidates are at handling multiple tasks.
Opening an unusual dialogue
Skip the games but get a similarly candid look at your candidates’ thought processes by asking a few really off-the-wall interview questions, such as, “What would you do in the event of a zombie apocalypse?” or “How would you react if aliens landed?” This is a great way to get a sneak peek at someone's personality – and their willingness to be imaginative.
Open-ended questions are useful for beginning a genuine dialogue and getting people away from their prewritten responses. They also give you the opportunity to get a closer look at attitude, which is just as important as aptitude when you're picking a new team member.
Do be careful when you're thinking up imaginative or quirky questions, though. You want to get past your candidates' interview façade but avoid the kind of highly personal or overly eccentric offerings that could accidentally put them off working for you.
Never forget that while you are assessing your candidate, they'll be having a good look at you, too. Bear this in mind when planning your unconventional interview tactics and have a look at our top interview no-nos for a few ideas of what not to do.
Need additional hiring advice or assistance with your recruitment needs? Contact your local Robert Half office.