Can asking ‘weird’ interview questions help find the right person?

An odd job interview question could catch a prospective candidate off-guard and force him or her to think critically.

An odd job interview question could catch a prospective candidate off-guard and force him or her to think critically.

Last month, this blog covered some of the job interview questions that shouldn't be asked for various reasons. Those were mostly undesirable because they are overused in general and almost certainly will not coax an honest reaction from your applicant.

What happens on the other end of the spectrum, though, when companies ask unusual questions? Used correctly, an odd query can actually be an effective tool for measuring how much thought someone has put into an open position, and HR specialists can take note of what responses people give.

U.S. News and World Report recently highlighted a classic version of this kind of question: "If you were an animal, which one would you like to be and why?" Like many interview questions, it sounds absurd, but someone who takes this seriously and gives an intelligent response could easily prove themselves worthy of the vacancy.

The source says that different candidates could answer in a way that reflects on their own experience and creativity, turning their answer into a metaphor for their chosen field. The article suggests, for example, that a salesperson should say they would like to be a giraffe, because this animal is elegant, fast and pursues the most valuable goals.  

Some questions are even more bizarre, and more along the lines of logic puzzles. The BBC gathered some cases of this in an article, including "How many ways can you get a needle out of a haystack?" The purpose here isn't to find a coherent answer so much as get a glimpse into a candidate's approach to problem solving and parsing information.

An HR software solution could help companies not only judge candidates more efficiently but also see how their own questions work and what needs to be improved in the long run.