In this episode, Josh explores the importance of creative interview questions and how that’s going to impact your team and your organization.

Episode 51 | Creative Interview Questions

[00:01] Welcome to The Epic Company Culture Podcast, where your host, Josh Sweeney, will give you, the business leaders, HR professionals, and company culture aficionados, the knowledge you need to take your company culture to the next level.

Josh Sweeney : [00:16] Hello, my name is Josh Sweeney, and welcome to The Epic Company Culture podcast. Before we get started, I would like to thank Prototype Prime for this amazing podcasting space. The topic of today is creative interview questions. And this is a bit of a content crossover from our company culture check video series out on YouTube. When we’re doing these company culture checks and going in and interviewing people about their amazing company cultures, we get all kinds of creative interview questions.

What is a Creative Interview Question?

[00:46] We have a number of our own internally, but it’s also very fun to share other people’s and why they ask those questions. Real quick I will just highlight, a creative interview question is really a thought-provoking question where it’s not about the question, it’s about how they answer. It’s about how creative they are, how mentally prepared they are, what do they go through to answer that question and the thought process. Sometimes seeing that unfold is really helpful and sometimes it’s just fun. But we want to make sure that we’re getting value out of these creative interview questions.

[01:26] One of the first questions I have is from Daniel over at Friendly Humans, we did a company culture check video all about Friendly Human and their culture, and one of the questions that they ask is ‘What species of penguin are you or would you be”? I’m maybe messing that up just a little bit, but the intent is for the person to explain what species of penguin they are and why. What they’re really looking for in here is they, in the video what Daniel talks about is that most people don’t know many species of penguins and they sure enough don’t know enough about them to be able to explain which one they might be.

What the Answers Say

[02:06] What they’re able to do is they’re able to filter down people pretty quickly in the early process by asking this because some people just say, “ This is a dumb question. I’m not answering it” and they move on, because it’s not in person. It’s something that I think they’re doing over some sort of form, and so people just don’t answer and move on. Some people will just pick the only penguin species they know. They’re like, “I’m an Emperor penguin” and they move on and no good answer. And then they have other answers from what he mentioned where people really go take it as something fun and they go learn about penguins. They go learn the different species and then they come up with a reason why they think they matched that species the most.

[02:45] It really is a way to see who’s going to go that extra mile when they have a task that they may or may not find valuable to them immediately. And also, how do they find value in it because that’s going to correlate to work if you, if they ask a question in the office or in the business setting and the person doesn’t know anything about it, well they may have a tendency to just not worry about it. Or if they don’t think it’s important or not important to them, they just move on. That would be the correlation to somebody just not answering the question.

More Questions

[03:18] It gives them insight into what people are going to do in the business environment. Another thing that we saw the other day was, we worked with an organization that is all about eating together. So, every day of the week they bring in meals and everybody eats together. After working with them, we found that part of their culture is food. Everybody in the organization, enjoys trying new foods, enjoys going out to eat. That’s just part of their culture. That’s part of who they are.

[03:49] And so they actually decided that they were going to add some culture questions are around what somebody’s most memorable meal was, and why? Because they want to know, is food part of this person’s life and one of the things that they’re getting at from this is, are they making the time to sit and eat with other people? Are they going to go build those relationships? Are they going to fit into the group and build the relationships and spend time with people through food because that’s part of their culture. Really interesting way to dig into something that is part of who they are as an organization, and make sure that they’re getting other people that want to share in that experience.

How to Play a DVD

[04:28] Third one that we have is from the interview we did with Gimme. The team over at Gimme, one of the questions they ask is how to play a DVD. They want somebody to step them through what the process is to play a DVD. They got lots of good answers where they went step by step, very detailed around how to play a DVD. They’ve had bad answers where people are very vague about the steps, and then they had probably what they would consider amazing answers where they step by step, went through how to play a DVD and then also mentioned that the person went above and beyond and told them all the other things that they could do with the DVD, like use it as a percussion instrument and banging it on the desk. So, this person goes above and beyond.

[05:15] Again, what they’re looking for is, is this indicative of what they would do in the workplace? If somebody called in, if a customer called in to Gimme and needs help being walked through the application from a support perspective, are they going to be very vague and not know where they need to click, and the instructions aren’t going to be good, and it’s going to be a poor support experience? Or is it somebody that naturally knows how to get into the details to walk a customer through that process and that’s really what they’re digging down into. By asking what could be on the surface a seemingly silly question, but it really gets down to the nature of who these people are.


[05:52] The last one I’m going to share is one that we use internally at Atcore Systems, and this one was if you could be any superhero, which one would you be and why? That’s also a very telling one. We didn’t find that it was anything indicative of how they were going to be at work, but you could say that there are some tell-tale signs of that. Whether somebody is captain America or Ironman and identify as well as you could, you could make some jumps to is to how snarky they are or what their type of humour is or what their loyalty level is or anything else by which superhero they pick. Now we don’t want to dig so far into this that we think of it as a negative.

Summing it Up

[06:36] We want to look at how that’s going to impact the team and how that’s going to be a positive addition to the team, because it does take all types of personalities to make a business flourish. It was just a fun culture question where we get to know a little bit more about them and a fun interview question. In closing, think about what creative interview questions you can implement in order to dig down into the natural behaviour of a person who they are and how they’re going to fit into your team.

[07:07] Thank you for tuning into today’s episode of The Epic Company Culture podcast with Josh Sweeney. If you enjoy this content, please subscribe on iTunes, Soundcloud or Stitcher. For additional content and transcripts, visit epicculture.co. If you have questions or topics you would like us to address or expand on, tweet us @epicculture1, or email at podcast@epicculture.co.