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Oddball Interview Questions: Do They Work?

Employee skills assessment becomes an even more difficult process when you try to hire for both skill and culture fit. Some companies, like Google and Dell, accomplish this dual task by lobbing oddball interview questions that candidates couldn’t possibly have prepared for. The conventional thinking behind this method - at least, as conventional as asking these kinds of questions can be - is that forcing candidates to express creativity in a sink or swim situation can tell you a lot about home someone would act in a high-pressure job.

The question is: Do Oddball Interview Questions Work?

For example:

  • “If you were to get rid of one state in the U.S., which would it be and why?” (Forrester)
  • “How many cows are in Canada?” (Google)
  • “What song best describes your work ethic?” (Dell)


What do you think? Do these oddball questions provide insight into candidate behavior and attitudes?

Views: 39

Comment by pam claughton on March 5, 2013 at 3:46pm

No, questions like these do not work. If anything, they can backfire by turning off a great candidate. If it's the hiring manager asking nonsense questions like these, I'd question if that's someone you'd want to report to...it can sometimes indicate a need to feel superior, to intimidate, someone who needs ego stroking. I see zero benefit and potential risk by going this route.

Comment by Jamey Jeff on March 5, 2013 at 5:40pm

Fair points Pam. Like any interviewing method, I think that if they are used without a clear strategy and consistent approach, you'll miss the intended goal of identifying the right talent. If applied appropriately, they can lead to some engaging discussion that can give you a sense of the candidate's style.

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