Recruitment Blog

Unique interview questions that will help you get to know your candidate better

Sarah Linney
Content Marketing Manager at JobAdder

If you’re looking to improve your hiring process, consider using unique interview questions. 

Deviating from standard job interview questions can both provide a glimpse of company culture to your candidate and help you gauge how well a candidate might fit in with your team. 

This handy blog will discuss the benefits of using unique interview questions and provide some examples that you can use in your interviews!

DOWNLOAD NOW: Overcoming talent shortages with recruitment expert Barbara Bruno

Unique interview questions: Why they’re an important component of the interview process

Unique interview questions can significantly benefit your overall hiring process – they can provide insights about your candidate that common interview questions might not. Also, unique questions can make the interview process more enjoyable for candidates and hiring managers alike!

Unique interview questions are a great way to get to know your candidate organically. In addition, they allow you to learn how they think outside of traditional work scenarios, which is important if you want your employees to work well together as part of a team.

Additionally, unique interview questions can give you a glimpse into the company culture at your organisation. If you’re looking for a candidate that will fit in well with your team, asking unique questions is one way to get a sense of how they’ll do in an environment where they might not have all the answers.

Things like whether or not a candidate is an excellent cultural fit, how well a candidate can work within a team and what type of long-term colleague they’ll be can all be revealed with more unique questions.

Moreover, memorable interview questions can also help set you apart from other companies as job seekers move through the job search process. When candidates are interviewing with many organisations, unique questions can help them remember your company and the interview process positively.

Interview question examples: Unique questions to ask your next candidate

Wondering where to start? Here are some examples of unique interview questions: 

  • What would you bring with you on a deserted island (excluding necessities, of course)?
  • What was the best career advice you ever got?
  • How would your friends describe you?
  • Describe a difficult situation at work that you never want to go through again.
  • Talk about one of your interests unrelated to your career.
  • What makes you unique in your personal life; what made you memorable at your last job?
  • What do you admire most about yourself?
  • If you were the CEO of this company for one day, what would be the first thing you’d do?
  • What is your biggest weakness?
  • If you were allowed to change one thing about this company, what would it be?
  • Think of something unusual that happened during a previous job. How did you handle it?
  • What would you do if your boss asked you to do something unethical?
  • If you could ask the CEO of this company anything, what would it be and why?
  • How do you handle stress and adversity in the workplace?
  • What are your thoughts on risk-taking?
  • Have you ever encountered a problem at work that you didn’t know how to solve? How did you go about finding a solution?
  • What’s been your most unique or interesting job experience to date?

More common questions to sprinkle in the interview

While unique questions are a great tool, more common questions can still provide great value to the hiring process. Here are some common questions to ask:

  • Why do you want to work here?
  • Why should we hire you? 
  • What are your strengths and weaknesses?
  • Why are you interested in this position?
  • How do you work best with others?
  • Describe a time when you had to handle a difficult situation.
  • What are your goals for the next five years?
  • How would you describe your work style?
  • Do you have any questions for me/us?

If unique interview questions are used with more common questions, the interviewer can get a holistic view of the candidate. This allows them to make an informed decision about whether or not a candidate is suitable for the position, as well as whether or not they will fit in with the company culture.

Interview tips: Do’s and don’ts of crafting a great interview question

Deviating from the norm means there’s a high chance you or your hiring manager might run into some uncomfortable conversations, and having a reputation for awkward interviews can deter candidates from applying in the future. 

So, here are a few tips for crafting great, unique questions that keep everything pleasant and professional for your interviewee. 

Topics interviewers can safely traverse

Here are a few topics you can safely ask without getting into trouble:

  • Career goals: You can ask the interviewee what their goals are and how this position can help them achieve them
  • Company culture: You can ask them what company culture they’re looking for and what type of environment they thrive in
  • The job itself: You can ask questions specific to the role, such as how they would go about handling a challenging situation or their experience with a particular task
  • The interview process: You can ask the candidate how they found the interview process and what they thought of it

Topics interviewers should avoid

Here are a few topics you should avoid asking in an interview:

  • Salary history or requirements: This question can make candidates uncomfortable, as it can appear that you’re trying to see how low an offer you can make (also, the salary you offer should reflect the work and responsiblities of this role, so their previous salary shouldn’t be a factor!)
  • Illegal questions: It would be best if you never asked about a candidate’s religious or political beliefs, nor should you ask about their age, race or marital status
  • Questions that are too personal: Please don’t ask the candidate about their family or other questions that you don’t need to know during the interview process

How to create and ask a great interview question

  • Always make it clear to your interviewee that you’re moving away from serious interview questions and moving toward more fun ones. Using unique questions as a ‘curveball’ may make it harder for your candidate to relax, think clearly and answer truthfully.
  • Formulate questions that give you insight into your candidate’s soft skills – things like leadership, emotional intelligence, work ethic, teamwork, communication skills and problem-solving skills are crucial for determining a candidate’s ability to thrive in your work environment.
  • Ask each question without a ‘right answer’ in mind.
  • Urge your candidate to explain their thought process wherever there’s confusion.

What to avoid when asking unique interview questions 

  • Refrain from asking probing questions about a candidate’s race, sexuality, gender identity, age, disabilities, religion, medical history and marital status – your candidate can reveal that information to you at their leisure if they choose to.
  • Don’t ask questions that don’t have a purpose. Asking silly, useless questions can come across as unprofessional to your candidate. Make sure each question provides insight about their previous job experience, skill set, core values, helps you understand what type of person they are or serves as an ice breaker.

Streamline your interview process with JobAdder

Unique interview questions can help you assess a candidate’s fit for your company and the role. Focus on work-related questions that will give you a better understanding of how the candidate thinks and solves problems. 

JobAdder offers a suite of tools and integrations to streamline your interview process, from video applications to CV screening, appointment scheduling, task management, reference checking and many more. Contact us to find out more. 

Want to find quality candidates in a tight talent market? Barbara Bruno reveals her expert tips.

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