Recently, the online job and career community compiled a list of strange job interview questions asked by some of the country’s largest companies. Here some of the questions they included:

Apple: If you were a pizza delivery man, how would you benefit from scissors?
Yahoo: “If you were on an island and could only bring three things, what three things would you bring?”
Goldman Sachs: “How many square feet of pizza is eaten in the U.S. each year?”*

We asked some small business managers the kind of questions they find most helpful and none of them were of the “If you were a tree?” variety. They were questions that actually seem helpful in learning about the candidate.

In addition to suggesting the questions below, they advised, “Don’t treat the job interview like it’s a courtroom cross-examination. It’s a conversation. Keep it friendly.

Here are some questions they suggested you ask.:


(Photo: WikiMedia Commons)

1. Why do you want to work here?

This, and variations (Why should we hire you?), were among the most common questions we heard. Straight forward and designed to see if the candidate had studied up on the company were the reasons for asking this, we were told.

2. What is an example of a major challenge in your life and how you dealt with it?

While this sounded more like a college entrance essay question to us, our small business managers said its open-ended nature can lead to information that you’d never discover, nor could even ask, if asked with more specificity.

3. Tell me about a time when you …

Some of the questions suggested weren’t even questions. Getting the candidate to tell you tell you stories will reveal both their professional point of view and will provide you with insight into their ability to communicate.

4. What is most important to you in your life?

While labor laws vary from state to state, it’s wise anywhere to steer clear of questions about religion or politics. However, a discussion about personal values or priorities can lead to great insight into the character of the candidate.

5. What are 4 things you believe are needed to be successful in this job?

This is another good way to explore what the candidate knows about the company and the specific job you are seeking to fill.

6. What are your thoughts about (a major industry issue)?

If the candidate is being considered for a position requiring knowledge about you industry, carefully choose a topic that is a major news item, trend or challenge in your field. The point is not to embarrass the candidate with a trivia question but to determine how well they keep up with trends and news.

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(Photo via New Old Stock)

7. Do you play a musical instrument or have some other hobby or passion you’ve done for a long time?

A great way to learn how versatile and well-rounded a candidate is. It also provides the candidate a chance to share something about a favorite topic that you may find relates to his job. For instance, is you largest client also a volunteer fireman?

7. Whom do you most admire and why?

This last question is great because its a non-threatening way of asking applicants how they see themselves, who they aspire to be one day, and whether this will mesh well with your business.

More Helpful Advice:
Interview Tips to Learn Anything from Anyone

*America consumes approximately 150 million square feet of pizza per year, roughly the area of New York City’s Central Park.

What are your suggestions for helpful job interview questions?

Tweet us @SmallBusiness and use the hashtag #jobquestions

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