Five tricky interview questions asked by the successful

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These questions reveal traits of the candidates that are not evident from their resumes but are important to the organisation’s culture.

Interviewing is an art few people really know how to master. Being aware of what you really need to find out in a prospective employee is the key. It helps you frame the right questions and judge a candidate in the best possible way. This is what explains few of the most tricky and unusual questions successful people such as Richard Branson, Oprah Winfrey, Drew Houston and Mark Zuckerberg like to ask job candidates.

Although the questions sound tricky, the purpose behind them is simple and logical. They are meant to test something that the usual interview questions may not be able to gauge in a candidate, but is an important trait for the person to possess, to be able to fit into the organisational culture. Here are a few interesting ones:

 

Tony Hsieh, CEO, Zappos

On a scale of one to 10, how weird are you? 

Zappos is known for one of the quirkiest values—to ‘create fun and a little weirdness’. In line with that, Hsieh asks the question to get an understanding whether a candidate fits into the company culture or not. Someone who rates at one is probably too straight-laced for the Zappos culture while a 10 would be too psychotic for them. It is about seeing a balance between being weird, experimental or open and at the same time being a little sane in knowing one’s limitations and boundaries.

Another question he asks people is ‘On a scale of one to 10, how lucky are you in life?’ The purpose again is to check the candidates’ personality and confidence level, and how they see themselves and their achievements in life. A rating of one shows that the candidates may be completely ignorant or unaware of their weaknesses and do not know why bad things happen to them, whereas a rating of 10 denotes that they do not feel confident about themselves and believe all good things happen by a stroke of luck.

 

Lori Goler, the vice president, People Operations, Facebook

On your very best day at work—the day you come home and think you have the best job in the world— what you do ? 
If you were to take an interview at Facebook, you could probably be asked this one question that is a favourite with Miranda Kalinowski, Facebook’s global head of recruiting and Lori Goler, VP, people operations. Through this question, Goler and other interviewers at Facebook, try and find out what a candidate is truly passionate about and if that innate interest fits into what Facebook is looking for.

How candidates answer what they did during a perfect workday allows interviewers a peek into the things that interest and excite people. They look for a genuine expression of pride and purpose about the workplace and try to gauge if the candidates align with the culture at Facebook.

 

Oprah Winfrey, American media proprietor

What is your spiritual practice? 
This question may appear to be the most unusual and unethical as it may sound like one’s religious bent is under question. However, that is not the case at all. What Winfrey looks to understand through this question is how one keeps themselves centred and grounded. It’s about how one connects with and values the self.

It reveals a lot about people’s values and principles in life and how they see them. Also, considering Winfrey’s mantra of self-worth and self-confidence, this question and how it is answered is really important. Someone who naturally lacks that balance in life will find it hard to exude the desired traits professionally as well, which is what Winfrey ensures in candidates looking to work with her.

 

Richard Branson, founder, Virgin Group

What didn’t you get a chance to include on your resume? 

Branson has a strong point here, as he believes it does not make sense to hire people on the basis of what they mention about themselves on paper, because if that was the best way to do it, then there was no point of even interviewing someone.

He isn’t a great fan of the traditional job interviews and this question is a proof of the same. Basically, how people answer this question, not only speaks about their presence of mind but also how honest and upfront they are about revealing themselves in an interview.

 

Elon Musk, CEO, Tesla and SpaceX

You are standing on the surface of the Earth. You walk one mile south, one mile west and one mile north. You end up exactly where you started. Where are you?

Well, that’s a tricky riddle to test a job candidate’s intelligence. While there are many correct answers to this one, North Pole being one, it is still the trickiest of all!

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