You have an interview scheduled. You are expecting to be asked about previous jobs and why you are interested in this job. You are ready to explain why you had a gap in your work history and why you left your last job. Then, you are asked something else entirely. Be prepared: more employers are using non-traditional interview questions to get to know you better during this process.

Think about the company and position you have applied for. Is the position part of a team or an individual spot? What is the company known for? How is the company regarded in the media or what does their website promote? Knowing ahead of time what the interviewer might be looking for will give you the best advantage. If you don’t know – research it. There is no way to prepare for all possible questions. Below are a few examples of non-traditional interview questions and some tips on what the company may be looking for when asking them. Remember- with these type of questions there is not always a right or wrong answer. Honest, well-thought-out, answers will usually fair the best.

  1. How do you define success? The company has a mission and goals for the future. They want to see if your goals will line up to help them achieve their goals. By explaining how you feel about success, the recruiter will be able to understand more about what type of career you are looking for and determine if this position is a good match.
  2. What is a hardship/problem you have faced and how did you overcome it? You can use examples from work experiences or life experiences. The goal here is to show how you navigate issues. Can you think through the process? Can you come up with a solution? Can you handle the stress? Do you ask for help if needed?
  3. What does your morning routine look like (or what are the first three things you do each day)? Are you more a fly by the seat of your pants person? An organized time manager? Somewhere in the middle? How you start your day usually is a good indication of how your day goes.
  4. What are you famous for (known for)? Answering this question gives the recruiter a better chance to know your personality. What makes you unique? Most likely they are looking to determine how your values line up with the company values. Everyone knows that a company is only as good as its employees. Do you promote the values that the company promotes? This is a good one to research. Find out what the prospective company values and how they are regarded in the public.
  5. When working on a team, what role do you like best? Here the company is looking to see how you feel about teamwork. Are you a take charge person or are you quietly working behind the scenes? Are you more comfortable guiding the team or supporting the team?

These are just a few to get you thinking. There are no right or wrong answers when it comes to behavioral or non-traditional interview questions. The company wants to get to know you to see if you will be able to do the work as well as be a great addition to their team. If you take a little time to put yourself in the recruiter’s shoes, you will be much more at ease in the interview. Then, whatever kind of questions they ask, you will be able to give the best answer possible.

Stacie Wills

About Stacie Wills


Stacie shares her experience and expertise to help build stronger communities by supporting employees and applicants in the ever changing world of work. From ethical work practices that have not changed in many years to best practices that change all the time, she can guide you through the challenges of finding and keeping steady work or growing your career.