Here’s Why Recruiters Ask You Those Tricky Interview Questions

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.

2 Responses to “Here’s Why Recruiters Ask You Those Tricky Interview Questions”

  1. If someone answered “Risk,” I’d either think they’re not much into board games, or I’d think they’re far more into chance dice rolls than strategy. If you really want strategy, choose something like Terra Mystica.

    But seriously, good insight in this article. A lot of people who have never done any recruitment work will poo-poo the process, but most of it happens for a good reason.

  2. Stuart522

    Recruiters are used car salesmen, they better not ask me these stupid questions, or they’ll get hung up on and blackballed.
    -What’s the job?
    -Where’s it located?
    -What’s the Pay?
    -Do they pay expenses?
    -What’s the length of the assignment?
    -When will i first be paid, and what is the payment schedule?
    This is all i need to hear from recruiters.
    **Stop calling to “FISH” for information, “so where you working now? what’s your manager’s phone #? Some even stoop to making up fake jobs, so they can get info. on where you’re at,
    or where you’ve been, so they can bug the companies you’ve worked for in order to get work for them, not for you, you already work(ed) there.
    -Please realize and don’t take it personal, that you’re talking with someone who is much more intelligent than you are, (no offense); to try to play games with us is embarrassing…to you.
    1. Never send them a resume, unless there is a job on the table. – They’ll use the resume to fish for jobs at where you’ve been.
    2. don’t connect with them on social or unsocial media, such as linked in, they will fish your jobs and your connections and anything else, Now don’t get me wrong, i get most of my jobs from linkedin, but that doens’t mean your going to be a connection.