The Results Are In: Interviewers Share Important Questions

A recent poll by Refresh Leadership found the number one question a hiring manager would ask during an interview was “Why do you want this job?” The poll asked respondents “If you could ask a job candidate only one question during an interview, what would you ask?” The number one answer from nearly 27% of respondents was followed closely by “Can you describe a difficult work situation and how you handled it?” with 24.9%. Rounding out the list, “What is you greatest strength and weakness?” received 14.82%, “Why are you leaving your current job?” had 11.19%, and “What are your major career objectives?” compiled 8%. Overall, 14.52% selected other, giving various questions they would prefer to ask, including:

  • If you were at an intersection and the light turned yellow what would you do?
  • How do you handle stress and how does change affect you?
  • We interviewed candidates with more experience, why should we hire you?

More and more, businesses are asking out-of-the-box questions to get different insight into the minds of their candidates. For instance, Google asked “How many cows are in Canada?” Dell asked “What songs best describe your work ethic?” And, Gallup asked “What do you think about when you are alone in your car?” With several prominent companies asking bizarre and unusual questions, it’ll be interesting to see if this trend will continue or if hiring managers will revert to more standard questions.

Are these results surprising to you? What question would you ask? Let us know in the comments section below!

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12 Responses to The Results Are In: Interviewers Share Important Questions

  1. Susan H. Linson June 18, 2013 at 10:17 am #

    My favorite interview question is: Tell me what you are NOT good at. If they can tell me, they’ll probably be a good employee.

  2. Ruth June 18, 2013 at 11:09 am #

    The article today was very informative. However examples of responses to questions would be helpful

  3. Anissa June 18, 2013 at 1:08 pm #

    We actually ask most of the questions posed in the article already. Recently, one of our managers wanted to have some fun and was asking applicants ‘If you were a tree, what kind of tree would you be and why?’. We were able to weed out one otherwise qualified candidate because he gave a response that was highly inappropriate for an interview. I think when you can catch people off guard with an ‘oddball’ question, they sometimes let their true nature slip out vs. sticking to canned responses. It also gives you some insight into an applicant’s thought process.

    • Refresh Leadership June 18, 2013 at 3:01 pm #

      I’ve definitely been caught off guard by the “oddball” question. It’s interesting to see where your brain goes when put on the spot!

      Thanks for commenting!

  4. Traci June 18, 2013 at 2:08 pm #

    I had a manager that would always ask: “If you had the choice to be a pencil or a pen, which would you be and why?”

    Some would say pencil because everyone makes mistakes and it’s nice to be able to correct them. Or, they are a perfectionist and like to be able to correct mistakes if they are made.

    Some would say pen, because they like the professional and clean look of a pen. Or, they are confident in their work, so they would be a pen.

    Best answer I heard was an erasable pen because you get the best of both worlds!!

    • Refresh Leadership June 18, 2013 at 2:59 pm #

      Obviously, an erasable pen!

      Great question! I bet it’s entertaining to watch job candidates weigh the options before answering.

      Thanks for commenting!

  5. Brent June 18, 2013 at 2:19 pm #

    My favorite interview question is, “If I asked you to get me a cup of coffee, how would you respond?”

    This is an especially good question for those being considered for positions of higher responsibility. Someone in a position of responsibility needs to be able to think quick and think ahead but we find a lot of applicants immediately jump to conclusions and take offense to the question.

    A typical response is “I didn’t realize that was part of the job description”. A good response is, “Do you take cream and sugar?” If the applicant is not bright enough to know a question like that is only asked to gauge the response they will not get the job and probably have no sense of humor.

    Our managers would never ask another employee for a cup of coffee, but any one of them would get a cup of coffee for a fellow employee if asked. A successful team cannot be built without cooperation and respect from all parties and no one should consider himself “above” doing a menial task if it is in the best interest of the team.

    • Refresh Leadership June 18, 2013 at 2:56 pm #

      I like this one! I think I would reply, “I’ll grab the coffee, if you get the donuts.”

      Thanks for commenting!

  6. Nadine June 18, 2013 at 3:42 pm #

    My favourite question to ask people is “Please describe yourself”. This question catches most people off guard, because they are prepared to answer job related questions and how they relate to the job. If people answer only based on fit to the job, or are unable to give me one, they likely are not the best candidate as we are looking for well rounded people that are confident enough to describe themselves honestly and appropriately.

  7. Opal Castle July 2, 2013 at 11:49 am #

    I thought all the questions were great! Totally different from the basic canned messages that we all tend to stick with.
    Thanks for the suggestions!

  8. Theresa Mathes July 25, 2013 at 2:14 pm #

    I enjoyed the article but like Ruth, I would like to have known either what the responses were or what the reason was for asking the “oddball” question. For example, we have started asking; “How fast over the speed limit do you drive?” The theory behind this is supposed to be that if a candidate tells you zero, they are lying, and if they tell you over 20 mph they are too much of a wild card. Having a guide with the question like this would be helpful otherwise it is just entertaining or I have to figure out the would-be psychology behind it myself.
    A follow-up with the “why” would be great.
    Thanks,
    -Theresa

  9. Jennifer September 6, 2013 at 6:20 pm #

    Because I have the candidates application in front of me during the interview, I ask them something about a town or state that they have lived just to get them talking about themselves. Something like, “It appears you spent a lot of time in Arizona, where the climate is warmer, and now your in a much colder climate, what was your favorite things to do in Arizona?” Then I would change the conversation to what they would do in the cold climate. It loosens them up and gets them talking about themselves (some of what shouldn’t be told to potential employer). It has been pretty successful for us~

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