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Uncover the best talent with these 10 creative interview questions

February 1, 2022 - 16 min read

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Why should you ask creative interview questions?

Tips for asking creative interview questions

Types of creative job interview questions

10 unique interview questions and what they reveal 

When you only ask candidates common interview questions like, “Where do you see yourself in five years?” you’ll often receive answers that feel scripted and inauthentic. 

To help you determine if a candidate is right for the role, it’s time for you to refresh your repertoire and add some creative interview questions to the mix. 

Asking better questions also helps you stand out as a potential employer. In a tight labor market when in-demand talent is ... in-demand, the questions you ask tell the candidate a lot about what type of company, or hiring manager, you are. They are a powerful signal of what is important and valued and how you work.

A unique interview question like, “What was your best day at work this year?” helps you determine a candidate’s values and accomplishments. At the same time, it prompts them to think on their feet instead of reciting an answer that feels rehearsed. 

Good creative interview questions help hiring managers to find out who a candidate really is, so they can make the best hiring decisions. Of, course, it's even more important when using creative questions to ask the same questions of all of your candidates. 

Let’s explore some examples of creative interview questions and why it’s important to ask them.

Why should you ask creative interview questions? 

To determine whether a job candidate is a good fit for the role and can be additive to the company culture, employers need to ask the right questions

Standard interview questions like “What are your career aspirations?” or “Why did you leave your previous job?” are still an essential part of the interview process. They reveal important information, like whether someone left their employer on good terms. 

Although these questions are valuable, chances are, candidates have answered them more times than they care to admit. As a result, they’ll likely recite a response that they’ve already rehearsed. 

To dig beneath the surface and find out a candidate’s potential, you need to also ask engaging and creative interview questions. These types of questions reveal an individual’s unique personality, thought process, and ability to think on their feet. 

For example, asking an interviewee, “How do you like to relax after a stressful day?” reveals how they cope with daily stressors and look after their physical and mental well-being. This information can help you determine whether they’d be a good cultural fit for your organization. 

Creative brain teaser questions reveal a person’s problem-solving skills and ability to articulate solutions under pressure. 

Other creative questions help employees relax so that they can perform better during the interview. A recent survey found that 93% of interviewees have experienced job interview-related anxiety

Asking ice breaker questions like, “What was the most fun thing you’ve done this year?” can help relieve anxiety and get candidates to open up more. 

Creative questions are a great way to get honest answers so you can make a better hiring decision. 

Tips for asking creative interview questions 

Before you prepare your own set of creative interview questions, here are a few tips to keep in mind.

Avoid asking the wrong questions 

Every person should feel welcome and included in your organization

That’s why you should never ask questions that are offensive or discriminatory or make someone feel uncomfortable. These types of questions are usually related to race, sexuality, or politics. You also want to make sure you're asking culture add interview questions — not culture fit questions

Tailor them to the job candidate 

According to the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM), preparing in advance helps interviewers make sure employment interviews are effective and valid

Do some preliminary research on your job candidate, and study their resume before drafting your creative questions. Try to tailor some of them to your candidate’s background and work experience. 

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This way, you can strategically use creative questions to learn additional information about particular areas of your employee’s background. 

Have a specific purpose in mind 

Although creative questions can be fun, you shouldn’t use them for your own entertainment. You aren't trying to prove how funny or novel your company is — that will tend to backfire.

Just like other interview questions, they need to have a purpose. 

Whether they reveal a candidate’s integrity or how well they work with other team members, these unique questions should help you make an informed hiring decision. 

So try to avoid questions like “What shows do you watch?” The answer may be interesting to you, but they’re likely not relevant in a job interview. 

Types of creative job interview questions 

There are many different types of creative questions you can ask during a job interview. Let’s take a look at some of these types and when they should be used. 

Icebreaker questions

Warm-up questions are typically asked at the beginning of an interview to ease a candidate’s nerves and help them feel comfortable. This is also a chance for the employer to bond over a shared interest or experience and make a good first impression

For example, asking “Where is the next place you’d like to visit and why?” reveals a candidate’s fun side. If that’s somewhere you’ve also been, it’s a good opportunity to find common ground and relate to them on a personal level. 

Other examples of creative icebreaker questions include: 

  • What’s the best book you’ve read, and why? 
  • What’s the most interesting thing about you that’s not on this resume? 

Company culture questions 

These questions can help you determine if a candidate is a good fit for your company’s culture

For example, if you have a very team-oriented culture, you’ll want to ask a unique question that will reveal if your candidate values teamwork

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Asking an unexpected question like, “What would be your strategy for surviving a zombie apocalypse” can reveal if they prefer to work alone or as part of a team. Their answer also provides insight into their strategic thinking and personal logic. 

A few other examples of company culture questions are: 

  • How do you prefer your success to be recognized at work
  • What excites you most about coming to work? 
  • If you became the CEO of this company overnight, what’s the first change you’d make? 

Creative thinking questions 

Creativity is one of the most sought-after transferable skills. Creative thinking questions evaluate a candidate’s ability to: 

  • Come up with innovative solutions 
  • Gain new insights
  • Think outside the box 

For instance, companies like Yahoo use the question “What three objects would you bring with you if you were stranded on a deserted island?” to test candidates' creative thinking skills. This question also reveals what a person prioritizes most.

Other questions that reveal a person’s creativity are: 

  • If you were an animal, which animal would you be and why?
  • If you could only eat one meal for the rest of your life, what would it be? 

10 unique interview questions and what they reveal 

Creative interview questions engage job candidates and catch them off guard. Some questions reveal their personality, while others test their logic and reasoning skills. 

Here are some unique interview questions and what the candidate’s answers to these questions can reveal. 

1. What’s the best gift you gave someone? 

This icebreaker question reveals your candidate’s personal character and the kind of relationships they have with the people in their lives. 

For example, if they open up and speak fondly about a meaningful gift they gave a loved one, it shows they value interpersonal relationships

2. Is it better to submit a project that’s perfect and late, or one that’s good and on time? 

This unconventional question is one that the VP of HR at IMB, Obed Louissaint, liked to ask during interviews. 

Choosing to answer “good and on time” can reveal that a candidate understands the importance of time management and meeting deadlines. At the same time, it shows that they’re confident in their work and don’t spend time worrying if it’s good enough or “perfect.” 

3. If you could have one superpower, what would it be and why? 

This interview question seems unusual at first, but the answer can reveal a lot about a person.

businesswoman-explaining-something-to-colleague-creative-interview-questions

There’s no right answer. Regardless of the superpower chosen, it’s the candidate’s ability to articulate why they chose it that matters most. It reveals their critical thinking skills

4. If you could have dinner with anyone, dead or alive, who would it be and why? 

The answer to this question can indicate what qualities and skills your candidate admires in others and tries to emulate. 

Their answers can also reveal a person's core values and what kind of people they like to surround themselves with. If their values align with those of your company’s, the candidate may be a good cultural fit. 

5. How lucky are you, and why? 

Airbnb uses this interview question to determine if a candidate is a glass-half-full or glass-half-empty kind of person. 

If a person says they feel lucky and expresses gratitude for the things in their life, they most likely have a positive mental attitude

6. Can you explain one concept you know really well to me in under 3 minutes?

If you’re interviewing for a sales role, asking this question is a creative way to test your interviewee’s communication skills.

Their ability to explain in a concise and engaging way is a good indicator of their sales skills and potential. 

7. What fictional character do you identify with the most, and why? 

Asking this question can reveal how a person views themselves and how self-aware they are

Someone with a high degree of self-awareness understands their strengths as well as their weaknesses. 

8. What websites do you visit most often and why? 

A person’s favorite websites are a window into who the job candidate is outside the workplace and how they will fit within your company culture. 

How do they choose to spend their downtime? Keeping up with world news or industry trends? Learning a new language? Working on a side hustle?

Depending on their answer, you can follow the question up by asking, “What’s an interesting thing you’ve read or learned there lately?” This ensures their answer is honest. 

9. If you were a crayon, what color would you be and why? 

A candidate’s answer to this question reveals their personality traits and creative thinking skills

So if you’re looking for someone who is innovative, you’ll be looking for unconventional, outside-the-box types of answers. 

10. Tell me about a time you had fun at work. What did it look like? 

If your organization values workplace humor, fun, and social connections, you’ll want to hire someone who fits into that culture. 

If your candidate opens up and has fun with this question, it’s a good indicator they will fit in. That’s as long as their answer is appropriate, of course. 

Use creative interview questions to find the right candidate 

Job candidates have heard the same list of generic questions time and time again. 

Creative interview questions are a breath of fresh air to them and a differentiator for you. 

Asking common questions during the interview is still an essential part of the hiring process. But a few curveball questions help you dig deeper beneath the surface. 

By asking the right creative questions, you can get to know your candidate and their true potential, so you can make a better hiring decision. If you need to evaluate the candidate in action, consider a working interview

If you need help asking the right questions and building a thriving workforce, BetterUp can help. Reach out for a custom demo today.

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Published February 1, 2022

Maggie Wooll

Managing Editor

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