Interview Questions … zany types of the third kind!

Zany QuestionsHere is a snippet from a random job advertisement that I found on the Monster Board for a position that involves creativity: “…then bring your high level of technical expertise, your big ideas and superior creative skills and join … “

I believe that this undefined request for creative talent will probably draw a significant response. But the key is, how will the interviewer ferret out the creative skills that they are looking for?

During a recent research project, I discovered some “zany” questions that were used to gauge problem solving and/or creative thinking abilities. These types of questions are asked to test a candidate’s ability to think fast under pressure, to think outside the box and to demonstrate creativity and problem-solving abilities. It is important to understand that Interviewers don’t expect a ‘right’ answer, but they will expect something logical or creative and the ability to articulate a thought process.

Here are six such questions:

1. How many different ways could you use this (you are shown an ordinary item like a pen, stapler, ruler)
2. If you were shrunk and dropped into a glass, how would you get out?
3. What’s the case for making footballs square?
4. How could a postman use a box of matches?
5. If you were marooned on a desert island, what three items would you want to have with you and why?
6. How many tattoo parlors do you think there are in Russia?

In traditional organizations where the nature of the work is more routine and process driven, a logical slant to answers makes sense although it is less likely one of these questions will be asked in the first place. In some of the creative fields like marketing, advertising or design, should not be looking only for technical competence, but creative thinking, as well. They should be scope for a little humor in the answers to these questions. After all, a wacky question can have a wacky answer!

Finally, these zany questions are not for amusement. These zany questions are effective devices for assisting interviewers in learning more about candidates so you can make informed hiring decisions. You should pay attention to how the questions are answered, the thought-processes and patterns within answers.

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James E. McClain is the author of Successful Career Development: A Game Plan, the book upon which some of our training programs are based. He has over 30 years' experience as a corporate HR executive, small business owner with ongoing experience in career development and as a college instructor. His educational background includes a B.S. and Masters degrees Education and Certification in Financial Planning. Our promise is that "you can pay more for training but you can not buy better training." The mission is to deliver the most effective and cost effective training and development programs.

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Posted in Hiring, Leadership

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