Practice Makes (Almost) Perfect: 21 Questions Your Interviewees Have Not Prepared For
April 30, 2021
interviewee questions

One of the more fun responsibilities for human resources professionals is hiring. You get to meet new candidates and have a say in the direction your company is moving, which is a big responsibility. However, it can also get tedious and boring after dozens of interviews where you’re hearing the same responses from every candidate. The repetitive nature can make it difficult for you to give each potential hire equal excitement and attention.

In the age of the internet, every candidate can find the same resources to know what questions they should prepare for before the interview has even been scheduled. In fact, sites like Glassdoor allow previous interviewees to leave reviews of their interview experience, including what questions they were asked. With so many methods to help a candidate to prepare, how can you know that the responses you’re getting are genuine and not something they simply overly prepared for?

To the interviewee’s credit, it’s great that they’re prepared and did their research. However, it doesn’t help you, as the interviewer, to accurately gauge a candidate’s personality and how well they think on their feet. Below are uncommon interview questions that can help you unlock real, genuine answers.


Icebreaker questions

When people hear the word icebreakers, they usually let out an exasperated sigh. Whether it was at summer camp, college, or even our first jobs, icebreakers are a method for forcing people to interact and start to get to know one another. Dreadful, right?

However, the below questions are meant to help your interviewee relax and perhaps even encourage them to let down a few walls for you to get a better idea of who they really are. To accomplish that, consider asking some of the below questions at the start of your interview:

  1. If you could have one superpower, what would it be?
  2. What breakfast cereal would you be and why?
  3. Which fictional universe would you want to live in?
  4. If you could choose anyone in the world to have lunch with, who would it be?
  5. Other than its intended use, what are 5 things you could do with a stapler?
  6. What did you want to grow up to be when you were a child?
  7. If you had $2,000 and needed to double it within 24 hours, how would you accomplish that?

These are only a few examples to get your team thinking of different questions you could ask to break the tension that your candidate won’t be prepared for. They are meant to be fun and ridiculous, and there’s no wrong or right answer. You could ask these questions to 100 different people and get 100 different answers. They’re meant to put your interviewee at ease and allow your team to start to see how creative or personable your potential candidate is.

Self-promotion questions

As fun as it is to debate whether it would be more exciting to live as a Jedi or an Avenger, it won’t reveal too much about whether your potential new hire is going to be an effective member of your team. At this point in the interview, you should be offering your candidate the opportunity to speak to their previous experience even if it isn’t necessarily on their resume. Here are some valuable questions to ask:

  1. What professional achievement are you most proud of and why?
  2. How would you handle a disagreement with a coworker?
  3. What unique experience and insight do you have that other candidates do not?
  4. What has been the most valuable experience in your career so far?
  5. How would you handle firing a coworker?
  6. What was the most valuable asset you offered your previous employer?
  7. What has been your most challenging experience and how did you handle it?

Perhaps the answers to some of these questions exist on your candidate’s resume, but many won’t be. These answers will start to reveal what the future of your team may look like should you offer this candidate the role. Will they be a match for your company’s culture? Do they offer value to your company? Questions, such as the ones provided, can help you to discover who the candidate is as a professional and the benefits they can bring to your team.


Curveball questions

These questions are going to be the most difficult for your candidate to answer honestly because they’re going to be entirely unexpected and will offer your candidate the opportunity to provide constructive feedback about your company. Whether or not they give you a completely honest answer can give you insight into how they will act as an employee, regardless of if they’re in a leadership role or not. Possible options include:

  1. If you were CEO of this company, what would you change?
  2. What feedback would you give our team about how we’ve conducted this interview?
  3. What responsibilities would you change about this job?
  4. What values do you believe our company needs to adopt?
  5. How do you think our company ranks in relation to our competitors?
  6. What might cause you to be wary about our company?
  7. Do you think our company offers value?

When asking these questions and ones like it, you need to be sure your candidate understands these questions aren’t being asked to back them into a corner. In fact, these questions are meant to benefit you as a human resources professional to do your job more effectively. It also allows your team to see if a candidate can work respectfully under pressure and offer constructive feedback.

Additionally, understanding what aspects of your company are unappealing or misunderstood by talent is important to be aware of. However, what’s even more important is ensuring your candidate does not feel uncomfortable or pressured to answer these questions. Ensure you make that message clear to them, and if your candidates give you valuable insight, always try to see how it can be applied even if they are not offered the role.


Bringing on new members to your team is a big deal as it can change the trajectory of your company. In this article, we offer plenty of examples of what your hiring team can ask that your candidates have not prepared for. This article also includes other unique interview questions for you to reference. If these questions produced the answers you were looking for and an offer is made, we also have an article to help you negotiate with new hires.

For more information, continue to check in every other Friday for more BrandResumes content.


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By Emily Provost

Emily is BrandResumes' Content Specialist and is an Associate Resume Writer. She completed her Bachelor of Arts in Publishing Studies with double minors in Marketing and Journalism from Hofstra University. She has had editorial experience working as an editor for various publications from Hofstra and worked as a writing tutor for undergraduate students.

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