Video: Goofball Questions
Goofball Questions Are One of The Worst Interview Questions to Ask
Whenever we talk about Hiring for Attitude the discussion typically turns to what are the best and worst interview questions to ask. Now, there is always some group of people that will start asking pop-psychological kind of weird, goofball sort of questions. And they will tell you that these are great interview questions to ask.
Many of you may never have experienced this, but if you've been around the block enough times, at some point you will have heard an interviewer ask a question like, “If you could be any kind of tree, what kind of tree would you be?” “If you could be any kind of animal, what kind of animal would you be?” People think, if that haven't heard these questions, "That's ridiculous. That's the dumbest kind of interview questions to ask I've ever heard." But these questions actually get used.
Why do some people think these are good kinds of interview questions to ask? People think that by discovering what kind of tree you would be, or what kind of animal you would be, they can reveal something about your personality. The problem is that's not true. If you did a survey of every high performer in your organization, and you discovered that all high performers would be oak trees. Or that all low performers, when you asked them, "What kind of tree would you be?" and they all said, I don't know, "Sumac" or "Spruce", or something, then maybe you'd have some research basis for your judgment about their inner psychology. Maybe then these would be OK interview questions to ask.
But nobody ever does that. So what you end up with is kind of a goofball question that nobody really knows how to evaluate. And that’s what really makes these terrible kinds of interview questions to ask. What am I supposed to do with the answer if they say they want to be an elephant versus a cheetah? Does that mean they're slower versus faster? We don't know because there's no research backing it up.
Even really great companies will sometimes fall into this trap thinking these are good interview questions to ask. Google recently came out with a mea culpa and said, "You know what? We're at fault. We have asked our own fair share of goofball questions. We did some research on them, and we found they don't correlate to anything." One of their questions was, "If you were shrunk down to the size of a pencil and put in a blender, how would you escape?" Ostensibly, that was designed to test some kind of problem-solving skill, I suppose, but it didn't really work.
When you're thinking about all of these kinds of questions, do what Google does. If you feel the need to ask one of them, go back and study did it really predict the success or failure of high or low performers? And if it doesn't, which it won't, then stop asking the question.