Many tech interviews are well, technical, with lots of questions meant to determine your skill-set and ability to solve problems. There are also the non-technical questions that demand the candidate think in unconventional and creative ways; when you’re interviewing for multiple jobs, there’s bound to be at least one session or interviewer with these kinds of tricky questions. “What kind of video games do you play?” is an example; so is “Which superhero would you choose to be, and why?”
Here’s why these questions pop up – and how to answer them.
Michael Pearce, a recruiter at Addison Group, says one of the firm’s favorite “tricky” questions is which board game might be the candidate’s favorite. “It first started with a client of ours who asked us to find out what our candidate’s favorite board game was,” he notes. “I quickly realized that this is a question I can ask my own candidates in our initial interview as a way to better understand their thought process and personality within the workplace.”
In a sense, it’s a Rorschach test for what sort of employee and co-worker you might be. From Pearce:
This question is a way for us to get a candidate to think on their feet and answer honestly. Also, it is important to understand that this is one of many factors that we take into consideration to determine skill set, fit, and what our client is looking for. Other factors we take into consideration include their professionalism, articulation of experience and communication. For example, if someone were to answer “Risk” as their favorite board game, that would elude that they are likely methodical, patient, and strategy-focused.
The potential pitfall here is what a recruiter or employer might deduce from your choice of board game. ‘Risk’ may seem strategic and methodical to one recruiter, but another might consider you downright Machiavellian for wanting to play it.
Indeed, something as simple and fun as ‘Cards Against Humanity’ may trigger fears in recruiters that you’re an HR nightmare because of your wicked sense of humor.
As Pearce notes, these sorts of questions help him match candidates with the right work environment. “Asking this type of question helps me see how they would answer an unexpected, whimsical question, and dives deeper into their thought process and how quickly they can think on their feet,” he tells Dice.
We’d bet most recruiters or interviewers who ask such unique questions are doing so for just that reason. Our advice for how to answer is simple: be honest, whether the question is about superheroes, video games, board games, or something even weirder.
For example, maybe you don’t like board games, or just don’t have time. Say so! That at least shows recruiters you’re comfortable saying you don’t know, or don’t have an answer, and that tells them as much as someone who has a deep closet full of dusty board or card games.