So we have all heard these quirky interview questions. Most of us have tried one or two of these recruitment tricks at the end of a candidate interview. What is important is how skilled you are in asking the question and how effective you are at learning something from the answer that is provided.
One I like…”On a scale of 1 to 10, how weird are you?” The word is that Zappos’ CEO likes weird and considers it a company core value. Zappos is looking to “create fun and a little weirdness.” I guess that is why when they put you on hold they ask if you want to hear the joke of the day first. Tony Hsieh, the Zappos CEO, is reported to ask this interview question of candidates. If you are self-rating as a 1, it is likely you are just a bit too buttoned-down for Zappos. If you are rating yourself as 10 maybe you are trending toward the “too psychotic” side of the scale.
What are interviewers trying to do with these questions? They are assessing talent for cultural fit. We all want to know how someone will fit in before their first day on the job. When thinking to the extreme on the purpose for these crazy questions, we want a feel for a candidate’s ability to engage or transform culture. Hsieh told the New York Times, “I think of myself less as a leader, and more of being almost an architect of an environment that enables employees to come up with their own ideas, and where employees can grow the culture and evolve it over time…”
Your job is make sense from the question you ask. Remember that the idea is not to place too much emphasis on the candidate’s answers. You need to consider a candidate’s thinking process and how they got to the answer they provided. What can you gather about the way they work or what they value in a work setting or company culture? Practice your question. Make it easy to answer and make sure no judgment is passed onto candidates until you have time to assess the full context of their responses. It is easy to ask hard questions…it is more difficult to evaluate the answer.
Do you have any favorite quirky interview questions? What is the best answer you ever received to your “tough” question?