We are accustomed to any number of conventional interview questions, and everyone has their favorites. But many shrewd CEOs and executives are digging a little deeper, looking beyond what they see in a job candidates’ executive profiles, resumes and cover letters. They are asking some very unusual interview questions designed to reveal more of your personality and ensure you are the perfect fit for their company.
“What would you do in the event of a zombie apocalypse?”
— Ashley Morris, Capriotti Sandwich Shop CEO
Of course, there is no right or wrong answer here. It’s simply a fun question Morris likes to ask to see how a candidate will respond under pressure. This gives him a feel for how effectively they react without prior thought or planning, as well as insight into their moral compass and whether they will fit into the company’s culture.
“What’s your superpower … or spirit animal?”
— Ryan Holmes, HootSuite CEO
Holmes feels the response he gets to this question gives him a greater understanding of a candidate’s work habits, beyond what’s seen on an executive’s profile.
“On a scale of one to 10, how weird are you?”
— Tony Hsieh, Zappos CEO
One of the reasons Hsieh likes to ask this quirky question is to ensure the candidate is a good fit for the casual culture of Zappos. According to Hsieh, whose company values include fun and a little weirdness, it’s not really important what number you choose, unless it’s at the extreme end, such as one or ten. Whereas a one might indicate you are too conservative for his company, a ten, on the other hand might show a tendency toward being a little too weird for them.
“Tell me something that’s true, that almost nobody agrees with you on.”
— Peter Thiel, PayPal co-founder
Co-founder of PayPal Thiel values those who are not afraid to say what’s on their minds. He finds this question, though uncomfortable, helps him see how courageous a candidate can be in discussing something that may be in direct opposition to the interviewer’s opinions.
“What was the last costume you wore?”
— David Gilboa, Warby Parker co-CEO
What the candidate remembers wearing isn’t a problem. It’s more about making sure they fit in with the eyewear retailer’s relaxed environment. With core values that include adding “fun and quirkiness” into everything they do, Warby feels that even the most capable candidate would be a mistake to hire if their work style was not a good fit.
“Tell me about your failures.”
— Jenny Ming, president and CEO of Charlotte Russe (former chief executive of Old Navy)
Resumes and cover letters don’t show failures, only successes. Ming feels this question is a good test of how willing the candidate is to take a risk, and being honest enough to acknowledge when things don’t go right. The example could come from either personal or business life. What’s important is how the person handled the failure and how they overcame or moved forward afterward. The clothing store executive says the responses give her insight into how willing the candidate is to admit when something goes wrong.
So, to prepare, you might want to start thinking about what your super power or weirdness level is so you are ready for your next interview.