Unconventional Interview Questions

I was recently reading a post from Slack's blog where they were discussing some of the unconventional interview questions that they use. These questions are intended to discover deeper things about the candidate than the typical interview questions, so without further a due, here they are.

What’s a personal opinion you’ve had and changed in the last year?

This first question asks the person to think about how their thinking has changed on a particular topic over the last year and the reason behind it. It is used to see if the candidate is humble enough to see that their thoughts were incorrect and they needed to change their perspective of things. This can provide you with a good indication if the candidate can compromise, especially in large teams. It speaks to the saying of having strong opinions, weakly held. The one warning sign to look out for is when then they say that they haven't changed their minds.

What’s the best/worst piece of advice you’ve gotten?

The question above is used to see if the candidate can reflect on their past and share the lessons that they have learnt with other people. It may be easier for the candidate to give you an example of bad advice, as these are the things that tend to stick with you. Again, if they cannot give you an example, then this should ring some alarm bells.

Tell me a story about how luck played a role in your life

This question is also used to see the humility of the candidate as they should be able to talk about a scenario in their past and see how it was a "lucky break" for them. In doing this, they will acknowledge that they they got to where they are today with help from some external factors.

Name 15 things you can do with a brick

This question is one that my current company uses and it is supposed to see how creative a person is by making them think out of the box. There is no right or wrong answers here. If the person struggles to think of things, or just gives a lot of normal things you can do with a brick, such a building a house etc, it may be an indicator that they cannot think abstractly and you will need to factor this into your decision in hiring the person.

The next time you interview someone, ask one or two of the above questions, in addition to the standard ones that you ask. It may give you some additional insight into the softer side of the candidate and possibly prevent you from making a bad hire.

Until next time...keep learning!

Mauro Da Silva

Learning everyday about software development, leadership & self improvement

South Africa