Job candidates are getting used to some strange interview questions. These aren't the age-old, "What are your strengths and weaknesses?" types of questions. They aren't even the interview riddles Google used to ask, such as, "How many piano tuners are there in the entire world?"

Such questions may be designed to tease out the reasoning skills of a candidate. But on the surface these are questions that have nothing to do with the position you're filling.

Granted, if you have a good reason for asking a question, keep it on the list. But take a look at the answers you're getting and whether or not they really helped you identify the best candidate. Chances are, they didn't, especially if they were one of the following six questions.

"What is your favorite superhero?"

Superheroes are an interesting trend in both interviews and online job board ads, with everyone seeming to think they're being original.

If hirers aren't asking a candidate to name a favorite superhero, they're asking what their superpower would be if they could have one. The goal is to go outside of interview norms and get a feel for a candidate's personality.

If culture fit is what you're after, instead consider asking what they like to do for fun. You'll likely get the exact answer you need.

A study from Scribd found that 76 percent of hiring managers prioritize "being interesting" as important in the hiring process. Hearing a candidate discuss weekends spent skydiving or climbing mountains is likely more telling than simply learning someone admires Superman.

Having said that, I really admire Dr. Strange. His journey from egotistical surgeon to noble savior of the Earth is fascinating. But does that reveal something about me that makes me a fit for a job? I think it's more a statement that Marvel knows how to make a good movie.

"If you could have dinner with one historic figure, who would it be?"

This question probably aims to determine just how cultured a candidate is. But no matter what position you're filling, chances are an in-depth knowledge of history isn't one of the necessary qualifications.

Instead, you may disrupt the flow of the interview and force the candidate to try to consider the answer you want to hear, rather than telling the truth.

Consider your current team. What are their interests? What do they discuss around the water cooler every day? Chances are, it isn't dinner with historic figures.

Before or after the interview, engage the candidate in conversation about things you know interest your team, such as sports or the latest Netflix streaming series. You'll likely get more value from those conversations than a random historical question.

"If you were an animal, what animal would you want to be?"

This is another question that aims for important details about a candidate's personality. But unless you can analyze the information and turn it into something actionable, you're wasting everyone's time.

Are you hoping for a candidate who thinks like a wild animal, such as a wolf or tiger, since those animals operate with a laser focus? What if your candidate answers "dog" or "elephant?" Are you prepared to translate that answer into something useful?

You can get the same results by asking behavioral questions that start with verbiage like, "Tell us about a time..." or, "Describe a situation where..." The candidate can bring up real-life experiences that will reveal far more than pretend scenarios ever could.

"Tell us about the last book you read?"

Successful people like Warren Buffet and Mark Cuban spend hours each day reading. But does that mean your next job candidate should be an avid reader?

When you ask for the title of a candidate's most-recent read, what answer will suffice? What if the answer is the latest fictional bestseller rather than a self-help book that can boost professional development?

If you're interested in determining a candidate's thirst to keep learning, instead turn your attention toward questions that will apply to the job at hand. Ask candidates how they keep their education up-to-date, whether that is through participating in online forums or subscribing to some sort of trade publication.

In addition to avoiding questions that could be seen as discriminatory or offensive, it's important for hirers to avoid wasting time. If a question provides an answer that can be useful, by all means, keep it. But often questions seem fun and unique, but don't help you achieve the goal of finding the best candidate. Consider weeding those questions out, and replacing them with inquiries that deliver information you need to make a good hire.

Published on: Apr 27, 2018