19 Unique and Creative Interview Questions to Ask Candidates

Job interviews can be a tricky balancing act. On the one hand, you don’t want to ask the same questions candidates have heard in countless interviews in the past, as this might encourage canned, rehearsed responses. Questions like “What are your three greatest weaknesses?” and “Where do you see yourself in five years?” are common for a reason—they’re good questions—but they certainly won’t inspire candid and spontaneous responses.

On the other hand, you don’t want to get too creative with your questions, as that may make the candidate feel uncomfortable. Worse still, you might end up with notes full of random information you don’t know what to do with.

To help with your candidate vetting profess, the hiring experts at KnowledgeCity have compiled twenty creative questions that have been found to inspire honest and insightful candidate responses.
Two professionals smiling and shaking hands over an office table during an interview.

1. What would your family say is the most unique thing about you?

In addition to setting a lighter tone, a question like this allows you to see a person’s willingness to be open while also hinting that your company encourages unique ideas and values diversity.

2. What’s one thing you’d want to remove from your daily or weekly work routine?

The candidate’s answer to this can reveal what they’re willing to tolerate. It might also prompt them to reveal more about their work-related weaknesses.

3. How would you try to convince a friend to work for us?

This is a clever way of asking, “Did you do your research on our company?” But it also serves as a barometer of their excitement levels toward the position.

4. Tell me about a time a job or company wasn’t a great fit.

Most people have worked in a job that wasn’t ideally suited to their skills or personality. Asking this question can reveal what qualities a candidate is looking for in a position or company.

5. 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?”

In contrast to the last question, this helps you see what kinds of things make your potential hire feel the most empowered to perform as well as where their passions lie.

6. Who in your life has helped you achieve your goals?

This question helps you see if the candidate has achieved goals they’ve set for themselves, and it also helps determine what kinds of people might be good mentors for the candidate. Part of a solid on-boarding program is a mentor match, and this question can help you figure out who on your team could help this new hire grow.

7. What or who has prevented you from reaching a goal?

This lets you see if they’re willing to take responsibility for their shortcomings, but also serves as a way to see who in your office may clash with this person.

8. What work pet peeves do you have?

It’s not a bad thing for a potential hire to have aspects of their work they don’t particularly enjoy. This question allows for some light-hearted banter about office life and can also give you some ideas on how you might make their first weeks in the office more comfortable.

9. You’re here to sell yourself… What’s your brand motto?

This lets you see how well a candidate can come up with something creative on the spot. This may be a particularly good question for people interviewing for a marketing, advertising or sales position.

10. Share a story about a time you failed.

Failure is a part of life. Asking about it can help you see if a candidate is the type to take responsibility for their mistakes. If they tell you about how they came up with solutions and transformed their failure into a success, that’s an added bonus.

11. Let’s say you’re doing the hiring. What would you look for in a candidate for this job?

This question is a fun spin on the classic “Tell me about your strengths.” A great candidate will list a few things about themselves in their response. This question can also serve as a test to see how they make decisions and how well they understand the duties and responsibilities of the position.

12. What was the last gift you gave someone and why?

The candidate’s response can say a lot of his or her personality. Are they considerate? Thoughtful? Creative?

13. How would your previous boss describe you?

This question can reveal whether things went smoothly at their last job. If the candidate is quick to respond, it was likely a mutual break. If there is some hesitation or teeth-clenching, you may want to ask follow up questions to try to uncover what the issues may have been.

14. What excites you?

This question can help you see if your company culture aligns with the things that motivate the candidate most.

15. Think back to your best day last month or last year. What were you doing?

This question can show you a lot about a potential hire, as it can demonstrate what they’re proud of, what they value and who they spend their time with.

16. How would you say your values align with our company values?

This is another question that can serve a couple of purposes. First, it lets you know if the potential hire is familiar with your company values, and second, it speaks to whether this candidate would make a good cultural fit.

17. What is something you’re considered an expert in?

This question will put people at ease (because everyone loves to talk about their hobbies and areas of expertise), and it might show you how confident and well rounded the candidate is. It can also give you a chance to learn where the candidate’s passions may lie outside of work.

18. Can you share with us an embarrassing moment where you were able to laugh at yourself?

The ability not to take oneself too seriously is an asset in any position. If the candidate seems comfortable sharing an embarrassing story, this is a good sign he or she is laid back and self-assured.

19. What’s something you haven’t told us in this interview, but that we’d find out about after working with you?

This serves as a good sign off, as it leaves them feeling confident and also gives them one more chance to share something about themselves that wasn’t written on their resume.

How to Pick the Best Interview Questions

  • Know Your Company Culture
    Having a clearly defined company culture benefits every stakeholder in your business. Employees know what you stand for and can work to reflect it, and clients and potential investors can see what’s most important to you.Having a deep knowledge of your company culture allows you to weave it into your interview questions. This can assist you in determining who will best align with your company’s goals and strengths.
  • Get Up Close and Personal
    Pick questions that will encourage honest, unscripted responses. Look for ways to cut through the pleasantries and people-pleasing answers to get to the heart of who this candidate is and what their true motivations are.And remember, it goes both ways. Be transparent about the position’s responsibilities. You want the candidate to feel confident your company is a good fit, too.
  • Ask to Empower
    Asking questions that encourage your potential hire to feel good about themselves benefits everyone. Make sure each question has a purpose and isn’t just being creative for creativity’s sake. Let them know when a “fun” question is coming so they can feel at ease.

How KnowledgeCity Can Help

At KnowledgeCity we pride ourselves on empowering people to perform at their highest levels. Our courses are geared toward teaching employees the hard and soft skills they need to succeed—both on and off the job.

Looking for more recruiting tips? Visit our resource page for free courses and ebooks. We also have a free guide on How to Attract, Retain, and Harness the Power of Millennial Employees that provides tips for recruiting millennial workers.

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