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Unconventional Interview Questions for Tech Recruiting

As an HR professional in the IT industry, you’re undoubtedly an expert at asking the right technical interview questions. But what about soft skills assessments, like critical thinking and problem-solving skills?

After all, a great hire isn’t simply a candidate who aces your coding challenges and code review assignments. A great hire is a good communicator, flexible collaborator, and excellent problem solver.

Unfortunately, these traits don’t always reveal themselves when you’re asking standard tech interview questions. For this reason, you may want to adopt these seven unconventional interview questions, lifted from behavioral interview techniques.

Beyond your candidates’ technical capabilities, these may help you surface your candidates’ soft skills—revealing what kind of coworker and employee they truly may turn out to be.  

  1. Have you ever received two equally-urgent project requests from two different senior stakeholders? How did you handle the situation (or, theoretically, how would you)?

The answer to this problem-solving interview question will shed light on your candidate’s critical thinking and prioritization skills—not to mention their ability to communicate with leadership under tricky circumstances.

  1. Describe the most difficult project you’ve worked on to date. What made it so hard, and how did you resolve the problem? 

Not only will this question reveal what your candidate considers to be a challenging project—which can be very useful when measured against the demands of a specific position—it may also offer insights into the way their problem-solving process works.    

  1. You’re tasked with explaining a basic coding principle—KISS—to a group of kindergarteners. You can use any supplies in the classroom. How do you go about it?

This unconventional interview question forces candidates to think on their feet. Their answer may not only give you a sense of how flexible and imaginative they are in their thinking—it may reveal how well they can keep their composure when faced with an unexpected ask.

  1. Have you ever fervently disagreed with a team member on how to approach a given project? What was it, and how did you resolve the disagreement?

Of all the soft skills an employee can bring to the workplace, conflict resolution is among the most valuable. While most candidates will claim that they’re team players on their resumes, how they act when the going gets tough is a true test of their collaborative prowess.

  1. Can you give an example of a time when you had to learn a new tech skill quickly to deliver a project? What was it and how did you go about it?

Chances are, you seek employees who are eager to learn new IT skills and can adapt easily to changing demands. This behavioral interview question will not only shed light on your candidate’s specific work experience but reveal their attitude toward acquiring new training on short notice.

  1. If programmers and coders were superheroes, who would your superhero persona be? What arch-villain(s) would you battle, and what would your superpowers be?

In addition to serving as a great ice-breaker, this behavioral interview question allows you a glimpse of the candidate beyond their technical skills. It will reveal how/if they think creatively, as well as if they have a sense of humor—a highly-prized characteristic of any work environment.

  1. Have you ever experienced coder’s block—and what is your strategy for working through it? 

Sooner or later, every tech professional experiences the IT equivalent of writer’s block. Yes, each coders’ process for working through it is likely a little different. However, knowing that your candidate has a strategy for dealing with this common problem speaks volumes about their problem-solving skills as well as their work ethic. 

Chances are, your company’s need for tech talent will continue to grow—and so will your need for effective technical and behavioral interview questions. At Namely, we specialize in providing HR solutions for the technology industry, especially recruiting. Read our hiring checklist for software developers or learn more about our HR solutions for tech employers.

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