Unique Interview Questions To Break the Mold (and the Ice)

Cassy Aite
June 11, 2024
Unique Interview Questions To Break the Mold (and the Ice)

A job interview is an integral stage in the hiring process. The candidate’s response can reveal information about their soft skills, expertise, career goals, core values, and other interesting aspects.

However, interviews have grown stagnant with time. The same questions pop up constantly and haven’t changed markedly in seemingly forever. A candidate’s job search becomes more like a final exam—memorizing the “right” answer—and less like an actual conversation.

Yep, the average interview is, well, formulaic. Where do you see yourself in five years? What are your strengths? What are your weaknesses? The cliched and mundane inquiries go on and on. You don’t learn much about the candidate and their potential fit with your company, especially when they’ve regurgitated the same answers in every interview since the start of their professional career.

But a simple solution can fix these issues: unique interview questions.

Unique interview questions pique the candidate's interest, gauge a person’s personality, portray your company culture and values, and ultimately enable you to find the right fit for the position. Whether you’re a hiring manager, recruiter, or business owner, this slight tweak to the interview process should reap benefits.

Why Unique Interview Questions Should Replace Antiquated Ones

The best interview questions divulge a candidate’s ability, teamwork ability, personality, and cultural fit within your organization. However, common interview questions do little more than bore the interviewee without providing real substance to the interviewer.

Unique questions solve this problem by gauging a candidate’s personality, how they’d fit with your current team members, measuring intelligence, identifying potential red flags, and other valuable insights. More directly, unique interview questions catch the candidate off-guard, showcasing their ability to think on the fly, their problem-solving skills, and how to manage unexpected situations (or work style).

These types of questions should replace the overly monotonous and cliched questions in your job interview process, but you can still ask traditional and strategic interview questions to calm and engage the candidate or act as an icebreaker.

How To Create and Use Unique Interview Questions

Interviewer looking over an applicant's resume

Fun is part of the equation with creative interview questions, but unique and creative interview questions have more depth than pure enjoyment. They need to have purpose.

You should craft each question to unveil something you want to learn about the candidate. Whether you want to understand their critical thinking, decision-making, or communication skills, good questions provide an outlet for substance and creativity.

Always include follow-up questions to the candidate’s response. If the candidate gives an off-the-wall answer that’s intriguing and thoughtful, dive deeper to understand the thought process behind it. Stay objective, remember your question’s purpose, and keep subjectivity to a minimum.

Other Tips for Your Interview

  • Telling the candidate when you’re switching from “normal” questions and answers to unique interview questions. Otherwise, you may lose the professional touch or appear disorganized.
  • Keep questions lighthearted, creative, and fun, but don’t cross the line. Everyone has a different level of comfort or discomfort. You don’t want to make a potential new hire turn down the job offer or slander your company on social media due to oversight or a faux pas.
  • Always allow follow-up questions from the candidate. Sure, you can ask your own, but creating a two-way road at an initial meeting speaks volumes about your self-awareness and open work environment.
  • Tailor your interview questions to match the job description. Even unique interview questions need to apply to the position.
  • Remember that there are no wrong answers. Some may be more creative, funny, or idealistic, but none are inherently wrong. Stick to the purpose of your questions to decide what the best answers are.

7 Unique Interview Questions To Ask Candidates

Calendar showing a job interview at 9 am on Tuesday with a checklist and cup of coffee next to it

Between substance and creativity, you should have all you need to create unique interview questions. It’s not easy, but using these suggestions to fuel your ideas should yield some great questions. Tailor them to your needs and see how unique interview questions can land the perfect person for the job.

1. What’s your favorite ice cream flavor?

Let’s be honest. Just about every candidate is on edge when they go to an interview. Rather than throwing unique interview questions into the mix or jumping right into skills- or experience-based questions, start with something easy.

Asking about ice cream can melt the unease, set the tone for the interview, and maybe even divulge some information. Are they vanilla? Do they like some off-the-wall flavor? Are they lactose intolerant? At the least, you’ll learn something about them as a person.

2. What’s something you’ve recently learned about yourself?

At some point, people who succeed in their personal and professional lives learn one important lesson: never stop learning. The more you learn about your profession or yourself, the more you can grow.

When you ask someone this unique interview question, you tap into their interests, hobbies, and curiosity. From a personal perspective, the question gives you insight into their self-awareness and self-improvement — two essential aspects for growing professionally.

The honesty level is also an intriguing facet of this question. You can see if someone is willing to start new ventures or hobbies, determine weaknesses (such as being poor at networking or small talk), and assess strengths. And you do it while avoiding the dreaded and overused “What are your strengths and weaknesses?” question.

3. If someone wrote a biography about you, what would the title be?

Though this appears like a loaded question, it’s more about the aspect of their life that brings most to the table. Resiliency, adventure, humor—the ideas can vary. The book’s theme could also provide an introspective look into their greatest achievements or setbacks and how these events shaped them as people.

The ability to shift gears from these events, ideas, and themes into a snappy or intriguing title is just as important. It shows their ability to ideate and articulate, which is an integral part of work relationships or job performance (at least for creatives).

4. How would you describe the color green to a blind person?

This unique interview question has exceptional depth. Whether you’re interviewing a manager, creative, or developer, the idea of describing something to a person who has no understanding is an intriguing idea.

Undoubtedly, this question will have many candidates fumbling for answers. But the ability to articulate something showcases the patience, management, leadership, and creative-thinking skills that can make them an excellent fit for your opening.

5. What rating would you give yourself on a scale of 1 to 10? What questions would you ask a 10?

Few candidates have the confidence to give themselves a 10 on this question because — let’s face it — it certainly sounds like a trick question. But in reality, you want to gauge their confidence and abilities.

The follow-up question is the true bread and butter of the Q&A. By asking them how they would interact with an expert in the field, you can analyze their career aspirations and what they need to work on.

6. What’s a project you’re most proud of and why?

Rather than asking about a challenging situation or a hypothetical scenario, this question lets the candidate shine. Through this question, you can assess their project management skills, knowledge of metrics, and overall ability to take initiative.

This question also allows the candidate to discuss topics that excite them and achievements that they’re proud of. Moreover, it gives you the chance to ask specific follow-up questions. This can lead to insight into the candidate’s process, problem-solving, and critical thinking.

7. If you were stranded on a deserted island, what three items would you want?

This is a classic question intended to assess the adaptiveness and resourcefulness of a candidate. However, you might get some zingers as well. Some people might bring books, games, etc., while others might try to start a new civilization or attempt to get rescued.

It’s a unique interview question that’s perfect as an icebreaker. It allows the candidate to relax and warm up to the interview before diving into deeper questions or discussing company values.

A Unique Interview Is Just the First Step

If you follow the right interview tips and the candidate answers your unique interview questions to your liking, they may be on the fast track to filling your position. But always remember that the interview is the first step in a symbiotic, enjoyable professional relationship.

Employee engagement is crucial in every aspect of the work environment, from the onboarding process to new skill and professional development to the everyday work environment. Without engagement, employees aren’t as happy or productive.

So here’s a unique question for you: How do you keep your employees actively engaged in your company?

One way to reinforce your fun and engaging work environment is to add a bit of incentivization and recognition to the mix with virtual gift cards from Hoppier. With Hoppier, you select the dollar amount, expiration date, and style of the card — and every unused cent goes back into your account, so you have zero sunken costs.

Hoppier remote onboarding gift card

Not every task requires a prize or award. But for those that do, Hoppier has a gift card that your employees are sure to enjoy and appreciate.

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Make Hoppier your unfair advantage today, schedule a demo

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Ready to 2x your global engagement at your next event, with Ox stress?

Make Hoppier your unfair advantage today, schedule a demo

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Ready to 2x your global engagement at your next event, with Ox stress?

Make Hoppier your unfair advantage today, schedule a demo

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