22 February 2017

UKFast BBC

Louise sharing her strangest interview question on the BBC this morning.

What is the strangest question you’ve ever been asked in a job interview?

The UKFast team were featured on BBC Breakfast this morning to discuss this very question. It is fascinating to hear that although everyone has a different answer, they’re all along the same theme: unusual questions that you can’t prepare for.

Invariably these questions put people on the spot, but it’s not about catching someone out. You can never get a true picture of who someone is if you stick to standard interview questions about work, about their CV and even about hobbies. You only really begin to get to know the real person when you ask them something they could never prepare for.

Questions like, ‘if you were a vegetable, which vegetable would you be?’ or ‘would you rather be trapped in a cage or a handbag?’ are designed to see how a candidate thinks and rationalises their answer. What’s the reasoning and why?

The most extreme version of this that I have heard was from an old friend who told me that he was once presented with a bowl of soup in an interview, along with salt and pepper shakers. The aim was to see whether he would add seasoning before tasting the soup, to determine what kind of decision maker he would be within the business. If he added seasoning first, it suggests he’s a gung-ho character who makes snap decisions; if he tasted the soup first, it suggests he considers the options before making a decision.

The UKFast recruitment team don’t offer soup but do run a rigorous recruitment process that includes a whole day of activities. These ‘assessment days’ aim to really find out what each candidate is really about with team building activities, debates and group interviews.

I have never been a big fan of CVs. Whilst I appreciate that CVs are a necessary tool to establish whether someone has the specific skills that are needed for certain roles, ultimately they don’t give any picture of who that person really is. Adding people to your team – especially as a small business – is a daunting task, it’s scary! I remember recruiting our first few team members even today; whilst it is extraordinarily exciting, it feels like such a risk. How do you know that they are the right person?

The answer to that question is simple – do they have the skills that can’t be taught? The skills that fit your company culture. We look for our core values, for the supportive gene and for the people who we ‘click’ with – that’s so much more important than a list on a CV. You can teach skills, attitude is ingrained.

That’s ultimately what these bizarre interview questions are trying to establish.

What’s the strangest question you’ve ever been asked?

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