Have you ever been asked an extremely odd interview question? I’m not speaking of the offensive and illegal types such as, “Do you plan on getting pregnant anytime soon?”
I’m talking about the ones that border on ridiculous such as “How many gas stations are there in the world?” or “What’s the fastest route to China if you can’t take a plane?” or “If you could be any fictional character, who would it be?”
There are an endless number of these absurd questions. Unfortunately, the job candidate can’t prevent the potential employer from asking them. You can, however, choose to leave the interview the moment you get tossed any one of these. In fact, I’d encourage it. Here’s why.
When an employer asks questions of this nature, it assures you of several things…
They claim they are evaluating the way the job candidate thinks to determine whether the candidate will be a good hire. This, of course, won’t tell them that. If you want to know how someone thinks, the best way to discover that is to ask, “What do you think?” or “Why do you think that?” or “How would you approach this?” You don’t need to disguise the words. Disguising leads to misunderstandings.
They think they’re smart enough to determine based on fictitious scenarios how the candidate will work (out) in reality. I once had a former client tell me he likes to ask candidates which video games or board games they’ve played. He said that question helps him determine whether they’re strategic thinkers. As a child, I played Checkers, Chess, Stratego, Risk, Life, Monopoly, Sorry, (and I am that you asked me this question) as well as a dozen or so other games. I also played video football, baseball, hockey, basketball, Pong, Centipede, Pac-Man, and so on. Does this tell you I’m easy to please or go with the flow? That I’m willing to try anything? Either way, have you determined yet whether I’m a good bet to effectively overhaul your failing corporate strategy? I didn’t think so and we’re now 12.5% done with the interview. The best way to assess how candidates will perform is to provide real-life scenarios they will encounter and ask how them how they would proceed.
They want to hire people who think exactly like they think. Why must everyone approach an issue the same way? Wouldn’t it be nice to hire a bunch of people who have the same goal but can approach it from different vantage points and with different perspectives and experiences? Novel concept. I just came up with that one off the top of my head.
Companies that recruit effectively, make great hires, and work with them to become excellent employees understand the job interview process is about eliciting the maximum amount of most relevant information to help predict the employment outcome. When interviewing with a company, the way they elicit that information will tell you a great deal about what it will be like to work there!