There’s a reason why job interviewing techniques and structures have remained largely the same over the years – they work. However, there are some unconventional interview methods emerging that could help you get to know a candidate on a deeper level and get a better understanding of how good a team fit they are for your business.

In this article, one of the UK’s leading company formation agents, Rapid Formations, explores 8 unconventional interview techniques that could help you find the right people to grow your company.

Ask unusual interview questions

The classics like “Tell me about yourself” and “What experience do you have for this role?” are still excellent, relevant questions. By all means, keep them in your list of interview questions.

However, candidates can prepare for these common questions in advance and give you a perfect answer. This can often mask what they’re truly like in a day-to-day setting.

Try to incorporate an unusual question or two into the interview. That way, interviewees will be required to think on their feet, allowing you to assess their creativity and ability to react to unexpected situations and handle pressure. Here are some examples of unusual/quirky questions to ask a candidate:

“How would you solve problems if you were from Mars?”

This question aims to see how an interviewee would approach an unfamiliar situation without all the right tools. If they respond with something like “I’m not too sure”, then it could indicate a lack of confidence and analytical skills.

However, a suitable candidate might say “I’d start with some research” or “I’d compare the problem to a similar one I have undertaken before on Mars and apply any relevant skills and experiences to solve it on Earth.

With unusual questions like this one, there is no perfect answer. The aim is to see how a candidate deals with an unexpected problem.

“If you were a plant, what type would you be and why?”

This unconventional interview question can give you some interesting insights into a person’s creativity and personal traits. Effectively, it doesn’t matter which plant they choose, but rather the qualities and characteristics associated with it.

A good answer to this question might be “I’d be a hydrangea because I can thrive in any condition.” This indicates that this person is a self-starter, confident, easy-going, and dependable.

On the other hand, if they respond with a basic answer like “I’d be a peace lily because they’re pretty”, it shows that they don’t dig deeper and may lack the creativity that your business needs.

You can adapt this question to your liking. Try replacing ‘plant’ with another object like an animal, tree, or dessert – they will all achieve the same effect.

“If you were stranded on a desert island, what 3 things would you want to have with you?”

Assess the candidate’s priorities with this type of unconventional question. Again, there’s no right or wrong answer – you simply want to understand their values and logical thinking skills. “Books, music, and food” might be sufficient. It shows that they care about their hobbies but have also made room for the necessities.

However, a more detailed answer might be preferable, such as “a fully charged laptop with a long battery life, a fully charged smartphone so that I can hotspot the laptop to my phone and get internet access to alert a friend or relative of my location, and a lighter to start a fire and keep warm.”

Arrange a job trial

You could take the interview out of the meeting room and arrange a job trial. This involves giving the candidate a realistic task that they’d be expected to do on an average day in the role.

For example, if it’s a customer service position, get them to spend some time with your existing customer service team and respond to customer emails. Not only will this give the interviewee a chance to see what it’d be like to work for your business, but it also allows you to evaluate their relevant skill and how they interact with other employees.

If they’re shy, don’t ask questions, and fail to produce a good standard of work, then perhaps they lack the right experience, confidence, and teamwork skills. Meanwhile, an outgoing candidate who asks for guidance and displays the right skills for the job shows personability and enthusiasm for the role.

Asking interviewees to do a job trial is a great way to test their skills and knowledge and see how they’d perform in the role if it was offered to them. It also sheds light on their personal traits, which your business might need.

Involve your current employees

You could try a more unconventional approach by involving some of your current employees in the process. For instance, at some point during the interview, ask a colleague to come into the room. Introduce them to the candidate and leave the room for 15-20 minutes.

The candidate may be thrown off by your leaving, but that will give you an insight into how they deal with unexpected changes and how they interact with the employee. It could also be a good chance for the interviewee to relax if they are feeling a bit nervous.

After the interview, ask the employee for feedback on:

  • What the candidate spoke about while you were gone
  • Whether they seemed natural and calm or flustered
  • Why they think you should or shouldn’t hire the candidate and why

By involving your current employees in an interview process, you can assess how the interviewee responds to changes, connect with your existing staff, and ultimately, whether they’re a good team fit.

Ask them to tell you a joke

A person’s sense of humour says a lot about them. You could try this unconventional interview technique by asking the candidate to tell you a joke, a funny story, or an anecdote. Of course, their answers should be professional and appropriate.

This question gets them to think on their feet and shows you whether they take themselves too seriously. If they don’t provide an answer at all, perhaps they lack confidence, don’t respond well to pressure, or lack a sense of humour.

However, if they make you laugh, they’ll be more memorable, and you’ll get a better idea of their personality and how it fits in with your company culture.

Try a surprise test

A surprise test is an unconventional interview technique that can reveal many different personality attributes that matter to your business. For example, you could try the pen-drop test. During the interview, simply drop a pen on the floor between yourself and the candidate and see if they bend down to pick it up.

This is a simple way to see how helpful, considerate, and friendly they are. Also, as they’re unable to prepare for something like this in advance, you’ll know that you’re getting a genuine and honest impression.

Alternatively, you could try a more drastic approach and schedule a fire drill during the interview. If they evacuate the building immediately with no concern for others, they could be self-centred and lack empathy. If they panic, you’ll know that they don’t perform well under pressure. If they react too slowly, they could lack a sense of urgency when it is needed.

A surprise test is often one that interviewees don’t even realise is a test. Incorporating a real-life scenario like a simple pen drop or a fire drill will bring out their soft skills and demonstrate how well they’d integrate into your business.

Take them to lunch

After an initial interview in the office, take the interviewee to lunch at a restaurant of their choice.

Not only does this create a neutral setting that can help put them at ease, but it’s an excellent opportunity for you, the interviewer, to really get to know them.

Pay attention to the location of the restaurant. Is it somewhere local to them or close to your office? Or maybe somewhere in between? This will show how considerate they are and their desire to accommodate you both equally.

Consider the type of restaurant they have chosen. Is it an upscale place or somewhere average? If they choose a more expensive location, perhaps they’re taking advantage of the complimentary lunch or they’re trying to impress you (or they have expensive taste). Also, did they ask you what you like or if you have any dietary requirements?

Also, take note of their order. A healthy choice like a salad and water suggests they’re sensible and value good nutrition. Meanwhile, a classic burger, chips, and Coke combination could mean they’re easy-going and down to earth.

Finally, compare some of these traits to those displayed in their very first interview – are they consistent?

Go for a run with them

Another unconventional interview technique is to go for a run with the interviewee. It may sound strange and drastic, but there’s a lot you can learn about a potential recruit from physical exercise.

In the lead-up to the unconventional interview, you can either let them know what to expect or leave it as a surprise. Either way, note how they react to this information.

Are they shocked, pleasantly surprised, excited, or worried? Maybe they don’t want to do it at all. Their initial reaction could be a good indicator of how they respond to unforeseen challenges and their willingness to adapt to different situations.

One of the main purposes of the run is to see how well they can maintain a conversation during physical exhaustion. In other words, how quickly do they give up? At this stage, you’re looking for drive, energy, and optimism.

The beer and BBQ test

Finally, to help you make a decision, try the beer and BBQ test. According to CNBC, Brian Scudamore, CEO of waste removal company, 1-800-GOT-JUNK, came up with this method to find suitable team members to expand his company.

In 1994, when his business had just 11 employees, he realised he didn’t have the right people to drive it forward and had to start again. When building his new team, he asked himself “Can I see myself sitting down and enjoying a beer or coffee with this person? If we had a company BBQ, how would they fit in?”

Steve Jobs had a similar unconventional interview technique. He’d ask himself if he would have a beer with the interviewee and conducted informal interviews over a beer.

These questions allow you to spot the similarities and differences between yourself and the candidate and between the candidate and your existing employees. It can be a useful way to ensure that new recruits join your organisation with the same priorities and principles that your business needs to grow.

Thanks for reading

So, there you have our top 8 unconventional interview techniques that could work for your business.

Perhaps you’ve tried traditional methods before and they didn’t quite work, or maybe you’re looking for specific qualities and skills in your future employees – these unusual approaches to interviewing candidates could help you find the right people for your company. Thanks for reading.

Rapid Formations is a top-rated company formation agent in the UK. With packages starting at just £12.99, they specialise in getting limited companies registered quickly, easily, and affordably. Find out more on the Rapid Formations website.

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