Unique Questions to Ask Applicants in Interviews

a care worker or medical professional makes a house call to a senior patient at her home . They are standing at the front door as she enters.

Do you find yourself asking the same questions at every interview?

It gets a bit boring, doesn’t it?

Well, imagine what it is like for the job candidates.

Fortunately, you don’t have to be asking the same questions as all the other companies within your industry.

Instead, you could decide to think outside the box and ask some more unique interview questions.

Find a better calibre of candidates and showcase your business as one that is innovative, exciting, and forward-thinking!

Ready to discover ten unconventional questions to ask applicants in interviews?

Let’s get started!

1. How would your co-workers describe you?

This is a great question because it can help you determine how well the candidate works as a part of a team. Also, it can enable you to find out if they will be a good fit for your company culture.

For example, if your business is big on social events and the candidate says they have been described as shy or likes to work alone, they may not enjoy working for you.

The answer to this question can help you see how comfortable a candidate feels in your presence and if they are willing to give an honest answer or a run-of-the-mill one that they think a recruiter wants to hear.

A Delivery biker looking over their shoulder.

2. What soft skills do you have?

Soft skills are becoming increasingly sought after by employers across all industries. Yet, the new generation of workers seems to lack these crucial abilities. Some of the most beneficial soft skills to look out for include flexibility, teamwork, integrity, and problem-solving skills.

It can be a good idea to ask for specific circumstances when they have used their soft skills in the workplace. Anyone can reel off a list of soft skills, but not everyone can successfully apply them to solve a problem.

3. What is your most memorable failure?

People love to show off their success, but not many like to admit to their failures, which makes this question so valuable.

Firstly, you need to see if the candidate can give you an answer to this question. You may find that many won’t be able to. This is a red flag, as everyone makes mistakes at some point. Secondly, pay close attention to how they describe this failure. Do they appear defensive or maybe ashamed? Ideally, you want someone who is able to be honest with their past mistakes and show how they have learned from them. Avoid anyone who blames others for their failures.

Young man drinking coffee while working on a laptop at office

4. Describe your ideal boss

Another highly useful interview question will help you determine what type of employee this candidate is: how would you describe your ideal boss?               

For example, if they say they like a hands-on and present employer, this indicates that they may need a lot of hand-holding, especially in the early days.

However, if they say they prefer a boss who gives their employees complete autonomy, this could show that they thrive in a more flexible working environment.

5. What excites you most about this job?

If you have a lot of candidates to interview and they all have similar skills and experiences, this is a great question to single out the most passionate candidates.

If you ask this question and get either a lacklustre or standard response, this shows that the candidate is not that passionate about your company.

However, if the candidate in question is forthcoming with specific aspects of your company, your culture, and your goals that they actively want to be a part of, then you are on to a winner.

6. What do you think about workplace diversity?

In today’s day and age, having a diverse workplace is crucial if you want to outperform your competitors and succeed. Therefore, you must strive to create a diverse and inclusive company culture.

By asking this question during the interviewing process, you will see if they hold the same values as your business and whether they are willing to work well with different genders, ethnic groups, and people of varying ages.

Indian white collar male worker in wheelchair having cheerful discussion leading conversation with colleague in creative office workstation beside window

7. If you could have one superpower, what would it be?

Known as ice breaker questions, it is not the answer that is important but how the candidate responds.

Some people will find this type of question fun, while others may find it a little stressful. However, answering a quirky question on the spot can demonstrate good communication skills and help you see how they respond under pressure.

8. Who do you see as our top 3 competitors?

Although not entirely unconventional, this is one question that enables you to quickly determine whether the candidate has done their research before the interview.

If they know your industry and your company well, they should be able to answer this instantly. If not, they have clearly not put in the time or effort to prepare for your meeting, so why should you invest more of your time in them?

9. If you were a tree, what kind would you be?

Again, this is another question in which the exact answer doesn’t really matter, but it does allow you to gain valuable insight into the candidate and their specific strengths.

For example, they may say they would be an oak as they are sturdy, unwavering in their loyalty, and highly dependable.

Or perhaps they would be an evergreen tree as they are optimistic and positive all the time and promise to brighten up everyone’s day.

Shot of a mature businessman shaking hands with a colleague in a modern office stock photo

10. What is more important to you, money or job satisfaction?

If someone is purely motivated by money, how loyal do you think they would be to your company? Would they up and leave if one of your competitors offered them a higher salary?

Of course, you can’t expect a candidate to have zero interest in their potential salary. Still, you do want someone who values other aspects of employment, such as a good working environment, common goals, and a positive company culture.

Of course, you cannot make a decision based on one question alone. Pairing these questions in this list with more typical interview questions enables you to get a better picture of the candidates.

Would you like help to recruit the top talent in your industry? Our Talent Acquisition Recruitment Program guarantees to help streamline your hiring processes and make the ideal candidates unable to resist what you have to offer.

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