“Where do you see yourself in five years?”
Reckon we’ve heard that question more than we would have liked. And if you’re an interviewer, this is one of the obvious and top interview questions you ask while you interview candidates, in your interviewer belt. The downside is that you’d have likely received answers that are scripted and inauthentic.
To determine if a candidate is right for the role, it is time for you to start throwing curveballs at them and actually give them the opportunity to demonstrate their thought process, their values and accomplishments, and their ability to think on their feet rather than recite scripted answers.
So, while a recruitment management system can help you accelerate the recruitment process, good interview questions can help hiring managers find who a candidate really is, so they can make the best hiring decisions.
Let’s explore some of the top interview questions to refresh your interview arsenal.
Top Interview Questions (and Answers)
Creative interview questions :
1. Name 5 uses for a stapler other than stapling
What They Want to Know: This question is asked to see if you are able to put in a good amount of thought to an outside the box inquiry. There are no wrong or right answers; the interviewer just wants to know if you are creative in any way and if you can come up with solutions that maybe no one else can come up with.
2. If you were a dessert, what dessert would you be?
What They Want to Know: This question can be used to determine how you see yourself, as well as your ability to think creatively. A good answer to this style of question will include detailed reasoning for the answer you choose. If a question has a humorous tone, your answer can establish a rapport with the interviewer.
3. How would you guide an alien through making a peanut butter sandwich?
What They Want to Know: This is a question directed towards when you are training people at work, you have to make sure you stop and explain everything, even if you think it’s self-explanatory. There’s no telling what your trainee might be bringing to this process in terms of past experience, so you need to make sure there are no misunderstandings.
4. What's the colour of money?
What They Want to Know: While you might be expecting "green" to be the right answer, you'll actually want your candidate to say, "It depends on the country." This type of awareness for the world at large could be critical when evaluating markets and making global financial decisions.
5. If you were stuck on a deserted island (and had all the food, water and shelter you needed) what 3 personal items would you bring?
What They Want to Know: While there's no right answer, you'll want a candidate who showcases an ability to prioritize and think logically through tough situations. For instance, maybe your candidate says, "I'd like to bring a wifi-enabled laptop with wind generator to charge the batteries, and a lighter. I can do my work and keep in contact with friends on my laptop, and I can use the lighter to start fires and keep warm at night.”
6. How would you describe the colour blue to someone who was blind?
What They Want to Know: This creative interview question tells them that small amounts of water are very light blue, almost clear with no color, and large amounts of water, like rivers or the ocean, are very deep blue. Say, "How you feel when you're swimming in water, the cool wetness that feels relaxing, is how blue feels."
7. What’s something you haven’t told us in this interview, but that we’d find out about after working with you?
What They Want to Know: The biggest thing here is to be memorable without throwing up any red flags. The recruiter wants you to be different, but not because you got too excited and flipped a table while you were talking about the one time you were an editor for your school paper.
8. “Why shouldn’t I hire you?”
What They Want to Know: Once again, there really isn’t a “Great” answer. There is are two acceptable ways to answer, where one is more risky but could bring greater rewards, and the other is similar to the “greatest weakness” answer where the weakness isn’t really that much of a weakness to begin with. Let’s look at them here.
9. “It’s 12 p.m. one year from now. What are you doing?”
What They Want to Know: The goal of this question is to determine confidence. In Bortulussi’s opinion, if a candidate can answer this question quickly and assuredly, it signals that they know themselves and are confident in who they are.
10. Can you share a time you were at work and thought “I love doing this! I can’t believe I’m getting paid right now?”
What They Want to Know: This question helps the interviews see what kinds of things make their potential hire feel the most empowered to perform as well as where their passions lie. Let the interviewer know how much effort and time you dedicated for your extra work.
11. What's the most difficult decision you've made in the last two years and how did you come to that decision?
What They Want to Know: When an interviewer asks you for examples of difficult decisions in the workplace, and how you arrived at answers to those decisions, they want to get a handle on how you might handle a difficult decision at the company you're interviewing for. They also want to get a feel for how strong your critical thinking skills are.
12. What three character traits would your friends use to describe you?
What They Want to Know: Employers ask this question to learn about your self-awareness. They also use this question as an opportunity to understand how your soft skills complement the company's values and employees' job duties.
Behavioural interview questions :
1. What do you do when your team member refuses to, or just can’t complete their part of the work? Give me an example.
What They Want to Know: Start by showing you have great communication skills and are not afraid to address uncomfortable issues directly. Companies want to know that you are willing and able to talk to people that are not performing. Then, look for strategies that can motivate them to do better. Avoid any answers that make you appear overly bossy, and stick with answers that show you can be motivational and encouraging.
2. Give me an example of a time when you had to think on your feet.
What They Want to Know: Paint the Picture. In situations where you have to think on your feet- things are often rushed and thrown together. However- your answer should not be. Make sure that you clearly outline the reason you had to think on your feet- as well as the skills that you used to help you to accomplish the task at hand. You do not have to give every detail- but be sure to express the need for urgency. Otherwise it may appear to be just another problem that you have addressed at work- which does not properly address the question at hand.
3. Tell me about a time you made a mistake at work.
What They Want to Know: The interviewer asks questions like this to learn how you handle challenges. Everyone makes mistakes, and the interviewer wants to know how you handle them when it happens to you.
4. Tell me about a time you were dissatisfied in your role. What could have been done to make it better?
What They Want to Know: You'll want to keep your answer honest while trying to incorporate a positive angle. One of the purposes of this interview question is to find out if you're going to be satisfied in the job for which you're interviewing. If you were dissatisfied before, you may be dissatisfied again if the circumstances are similar.
5. What is an unpopular opinion you hold?
What They Want to Know: Your response to this question could show your persuasiveness or uniqueness. Keep your answer lighthearted and avoid controversial topics.
6. Describe a time when you faced a block at work and how you solved it.
What They Want to Know: Help the interviewer understand where you were working, what your role was, and what was going on at the time this all took place. After setting the stage it’s time to walk them through what you did. The hiring manager is interested in not only your actions, but also WHY you took those actions. This is where articulating your thought process comes into play.
7. What’s the biggest misconception your coworkers have about you and why do they think that?
What They Want to Know: In your answer, you can demonstrate that you have the emotional intelligence and self-awareness to understand how others view you in the workplace and how your actions impact them. Further, this question can serve as an opportunity for you to reflect upon your weaknesses, discuss your desire for self-improvement and ultimately align your strengths with the needs of an organization.
8. What are the three things that are most important to you in a job?
What They Want to Know: When an employer asks you what you look for in a job, they are not necessarily looking for a particular answer. They are simply looking to see what your priorities are and if you can put them into words. Any number of things can be put together to create a great answer to this question including company culture, performance based rewards, teamwork, growth potential etc.
9. Share how you stay motivated when doing repetitive tasks at work.
What They Want to Know: Hiring managers want to find out if you are the type of employee that remains motivated, focused and positive to get the job done.
10. What do you do if you disagree with someone at work?
What They Want to Know: With this question, the interviewer is seeking insight into how you handle issues at work. Focus on how you’ve solved a problem or compromised when there was a workplace disagreement.
Communication interview questions :
1. Can you explain one concept you know really well to me in under 3 minutes?
What They Want to Know: Depending on the recruiter, they may ask you to explain something specific, give you the option to choose the topic, or even request that you explain something completely unrelated to the role.They want to see how you communicate, if you can connect with people and engage them, and if you can explain something in simple terms that everyone can understand.
2. What’s the most interesting thing about you that’s not on this resume?
What They Want to Know: Select items that set you apart from other applicants and demonstrate your ability to excel in the role. Though your qualifications and expertise may make you a good choice for the role, your unique experience and perspective can distinguish you. Consider items that highlight your ability to contribute to company goals and indicate your potential growth within the organization.
3. How would you go about persuading someone to see things your way at work?
What They Want to Know: Think about and select a time in your life when you influenced someone. Choose a specific example from your life with a clear beginning, middle and end. Try to select an example where the results are as objective as possible so that the employer can understand clearly your positive influence on the other individual or group.
4. What are your pet peeves?
What They Want to Know: As you prepare your response, pick one pet peeve to talk about and focus on crafting your answer around that one issue. You should never rattle off a long list of things that annoy you at work or specifically call out old bosses or co-workers. “What happens is that people start to think, is the problem them? Or is it you?” Lo says. Better to keep your answer focused and succinct. “I don’t think this is a question that you want to dwell on for a long time,” he adds.
5. Is it more important to be a good listener or a good communicator?
What They Want to Know: To be an excellent or effective communicator, one has to or should focus on becoming a great listener. Yes, the art of speaking is important, and listening is just as critical as speaking in the communication process.
6. Tell Us About Your Greatest Accomplishment?
What They Want to Know: This is one of the most common job interview questions and the answer allows interviewers to gain insight into what a potential employee considers an accomplishment and how they went about achieving it. The answer given is often directly related to the job the person is applying for and will likely include personal information that can help a hiring manager get to know the candidate better.
7. When was the last time you were angry? What happened?
What They Want to Know: When answering the question, focus on how you resolved the situation or how a colleague or manager resolved the situation in a way you found helpful or admirable. Explaining how you handle stressful situations can be a more persuasive reason to hire you, which can turn the question into a way to showcase your teamwork and problem-solving skills.
8. What do people most often criticize about you?
What They Want to Know: Choose to mention a "weakness" that might actually be considered a strength on the job. For example, you might say that some people have said you are very critical of your work, but you can explain that you have a keen attention to detail, and you bring that detail-oriented nature to the workplace.
9. What are you better at than most anyone else? What’s your superpower and how will you leverage that to make an impact at this company?
What They Want to Know: This is the most often asked interview question and there are a variety of superpowers to choose from to describe yourself. However, it's important to select a well-known superpower is straightforward. Select the superpower you feel best represent your best strength that will benefit the company.
Brainteaser interview questions:
1. You have a three-gallon bucket and a five-gallon bucket. How do you measure out exactly four gallons?
Answer : Fill the three-gallon jug and pour contents into the five-gallon jug. Then, fill the three-gallon jug again and use it to continue filling the five-gallon jug. This will take two gallons out of the three-gallon jug. Now, dump all of the contents out of the five-gallon jug. Pour the one gallon that is left in the three-gallon jug into the five-gallon jug, and then fill the three-gallon jug again and pour it into the five-gallon jug. This will give you four gallons.
2. How many people are using Instagram in San Francisco at 1:30 pm on a Thursday?
Answer : There are several acceptable answers to this question. A popular response is that there’s no need to wash windows in Seattle as it rains too much. Other responses may include attempts at estimating the number of windows in Seattle or simply offering a price per window.
3. How many times can you subtract the number 5 from 25?
Answer : Only one time. After that, you would be subtracting from 20.
4. Explain the internet to someone coming out of a 30-year coma
Answer : Try to answer this question with a lot of creativity and humor, like − “I would ask him if he remembers any movie where people used to look into a crystal ball and tell what was happening miles away. I would say Internet is that magic crystal ball of the present time.”
5. How would you test a calculator?
Answer : For the ideal answer candidates should say, they can test the functionality of the calculator's accuracy.They can achieve this by evaluating whether the inputs provide their expected outputs. By testing the calculator's basic system functions. Like the power button, clear, etc to determine if there are system errors before anything else.
6. An apple costs 40 cents, a banana costs 60 cents, and a grapefruit costs 80 cents. How much does a pear cost?
Answer : If you charge 20 cents per vowel, the two-vowel word "apple" would cost 40 cents, three-vowel "banana" 60 cents, and four-vowel "grapefruit" 80 cents. Therefore a pear would cost 40 cents.
7. You are in a race and you overtake the person who is in second place. What is your position now?
Answer : If you are running a race and you passed the second person, Then there is one person ahead of you, i.e., the person who is at the first position. So, You will be in the second place.
8. You stand before two doors. One leads to the treasure, the other to certain death. Before each door is a guard. One always tells the truth; the other always lies.
Answer: Ask, ‘Do both of the doors lead to the exit?’ The liar would say yes, and it’s pretty obvious which door to go through after that. I know I got it right!
9. You’re standing outside a room with no windows. The room has three light bulbs and three switches outside the room. Each switch controls one of the light bulbs. You may only enter the room one time. How can you find out what switch goes to each light bulb?
Answer : To find out what switch goes to what light bulb, you could turn on the first switch and wait five minutes. After five minutes have passed, turn off the first switch and turn on the second switch. Look for the warm light bulb when you walk back into the room. The light that’s on goes to the second switch, the warm light bulb goes to the first switch and the last lightbulb goes to the third switch.
Use the top interview questions to find the right candidate
Job candidates are frankly tired of hearing the same questions time and time again. These top interview questions that cover creativity, behavioural and communication skills, and that tease the brain muscles are a breath of fresh air to them and a differentiator for you.
Asking common interview questions is still an important part of the hiring process. However, a few unexpected questions can help you delve deeper beneath the surface.