Out of the Box Interview Questions

Out-of-the-Box Questions

(and Why to Ask Them)

by Tom Gimbel

“What does your best friend do for a living?” The more detailed the answer, the more candidates have invested in knowing about the people around them and the relationships they already have. 

“Who taught you to have a strong work ethic, and what did they accomplish that showed it paid off?” Almost everyone will say they have a strong work ethic, but asking where they got it shows their observational skills as well as gets deeper than a yes or no answer. 

“Who was a person in your department who dragged down the team, and how did you communicate to your manager that person was sub-par?” If the candidate says they never told their manager, chances are they won’t speak up if they see a problem on their new employer’s team, either. 

“What is the hardest part of managing you?” Unlike “what’s your greatest weakness?”, this asks people to not only own up to their flaws, but also offer solutions for getting around them. 

“Tell me a time when your boss took credit for something you did, and how did you review your work so that next time you’ll improve? Most people answer ‘yes’ thinking that’s what you want to hear. A weak follow-up could point to a lie or to someone who wasn’t motivated enough to examine what they could have done better.



Publications always have tips for interviewing. I thought that this list is of particular interest. They certainly are probing and open ended in nature. Thought this might be of interest, even in non interview situations.

~ David


Originally published in Talent Management Magazine, June, 2015, p 33.

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