It’s fair to say that interviews can be a stressful time for candidates and even for the person holding the interview at times. With this in mind, we take a look at some of the benefits of asking the odd curveball question.

Most candidates prepare for an interview by thinking about the company they are visiting, thinking about what the role demands and what kind of candidate they might want to fill the position.

Most candidates are not expecting to be questioned on how they would act in an office emergency… or what food represents their personality… and therein lies the surprise that could break the tension created in an interview scenario.

Being asked something different and unpredictable goes a long way to creating a more natural environment for you to assess your candidate. It can also go further to assist the recruiting process by telling you a bit more about the candidate from the way the answer.

If you think about it, swapping the classic, “why do you think you are right for this role?” for, "if you were an animal, what would you be?” may actually open the door for the interview to become a more productive and genuinely useful process.

These kinds of questions are unexpected in an interview and therefore require the candidate to get creative and think fast, revealing a bit more about who they really are, whilst at the same time, allowing you to assess whether they could thrive in your company.

A good answer could be, “I think I would be a beaver, because they are industrious and hard-working for the team”. A bad answer could be, “I would be a bear because I like to hibernate all winter too”!

Consider adopting this technique into your interview process next time, and see if it helps you reveal more about a candidate than just what they rehearsed the night before. Even the top professionals out there have endorsed the method.

PayPal Co-Founder, Peter Thiel, has revealed his favourite offbeat question to ask is “Tell me something that’s true, that almost nobody agrees with you on.” And Warby Parker Co-CEO, David Gilboa, shared that he uses, “What was the last costume you wore?” to uncover the true personality of the person he is interviewing.

So curveball questions are widely recognised as having two great benefits. One, they are great for breaking the tension in an interview and two, they can actually help to gain an insight into who your candidates actually are. 

Whilst we are big fans of this technique, always remember to mix the curveball questions in with questions you do actually need answers to, such as those covering experience and ability. This way you make sure you aren’t left remembering that the candidate would be a bear rather than a skilled worker…!