Recently there has been a rise in the use of what is becoming known as ‘extreme interviewing’ for the purposes of appointing applicants to jobs. Questions including  “name 5 uses for a stapler without the staples” are being utilised to separate the wheat from the chaff in the recruitment industry.

Looking for something a bit different…

The objective here seems not to be to confuse and confound the job applicant but to uncover their ability to think creatively when put on the spot. A fast, intelligent response to an unusual or unexpected question may be a strong signal of the kind of approach that an employer may value in a potential employee.

Some genuine questions that have been used as part of an extreme interview process include:

  • ‘What sort of biscuit would you be, if you were a biscuit?’
  • ‘Give five uses for a stapler, without using staples.’
  • ‘Tell us 3 Lady Gaga songs.’
  • ‘How weird are you, from 1-10?’
  • ‘Tell us which TV character you are most like?’
  • ‘Are you exhaling warm air?’
  • ‘Are you fascinated by life?’

Some people would argue that this type of questioning is simply designed to throw an applicant of kilter; to unnerve them a little.

Is the glut of applicants leading to extreme interviewing?

Rightly or wrongly, big companies, including Apple, are using extreme interviewing techniques as part of their recruitment process and must be enjoying some sort of success if they are continuing to use them. Where has extreme interviewing come from? It has probably become part of the recruitment arsenal due to the increasingly large number of applicants for available positions. This leads to the need for new ways to to assess and select that are a little different to the standard fare.

If you decide to incorporate extreme interviewing questions into your recruitment process then you may like to consider using questions that have some relevancy to the key behaviour you are trying to identify rather than simply going for an odd question for its own sake. A good way to do this is by incorporating a scoring system that applies to the answers. If you can score potential answers then you should have a valid question to ask.

Pre-qualify your job applicants with a good job advert…

Don’t forget to give some attention to the job description you’re using to sell the job in the first instance. If you accurately describe the experience, educational achievements and skills required for the position then you will pre-qualify applicants to an extent, reducing the number of applications from unsuitable  applicants (and reducing your need for extreme questions!). A strong online recruitment strategy is also very useful for filtering job candidates during the recruitment process.

How would you respond to extreme questions?

It seems to be a very popular technique that is gaining popularity. But if you were attending an interview and were asked “Are you exhaling warm air?” How would you feel about the company you’re working applying to work for?

About the author: Tom Leavesley is an experienced recruitment consultant, a director at www.easyvacancy.co.uk and a blogger for www.saynotounemploment.co.uk


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  3. Job Interview Techniques to Land Your Dream Job