Interviews that surprise and provoke applicants


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Text comes from: ERFOLGSERPROBTE EINSTELLUNGSINTERVIEWS: Wie Sie mit professionellen Fragen die passenden Mitarbeiter finden (2016) from Uta Rohrschneider, published by BusinessVillage Verlag, Reprints by friendly permission of the publisher.
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HR want enlightening answers in the job interview. Strong provocations and controversial opinions are therefore often used. How far can the provocation go?

Interviews that surprise applicants and provoke job interview006


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Uta Rohrschneider UtaUta Rohrschneider is Managing Partner of grow.up. Management consulting.

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Provoke applicants

HR personnel should and may surprise the applicant with provocative questions. Imagine that you are in the role of someone who has a key position to fill. Then this tactic is particularly useful when interviewing candidates who are very confident and confident. This way you can determine whether and how quickly they can be disturbed.

  • Is the candidate actually so convinced of himself or his answer as he pretends to be?
  • What about his quick-wittedness when provoked by you?
  • Can he face you calmly and confidently or does he feel attacked and react accordingly?
  • Does he go into the resistance, does he negate your statements or does he just take them?
  • How soon does the candidate move to a defensive position?
  • How easily can he provoke himself?

For all these questions, you will get an answer if you closely observe the response of an applicant after provoking it with a question or opinion.

The opinion question should have nothing to do with the job

If you want to avoid having your candidate give you a prepared answer, confront him with controversial issues - and ask for his opinion. Ask your applicants questions for which there is no clear or correct answer. Confront them, for example, with controversial topics, such as speed limits on German motorways, smoking in pubs, genetically modified food, organ donation, etc.

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Keep in mind that it is not the actual opinion of the candidate. To ensure this, you should address only controversial issues that are not related to the future field of activity.

What to look for

This means, please do not ask your candidate for speed limits if you want to hire a technician for racing cars.

Likewise, you should not question a potential transplant medician for his attitude to organ donation. This would not meet the objective of the question.

Typical questions

For example, ask your candidates about the following topics:

  • What do you think of the introduction of speed limits on German motorways?
  • What is your opinion on the non-smoking law in German pubs?
  • What do you think of zoos?
  • What do you think about Arnold Schwarzenegger's performance as Governor of California?
  • What do you think about that Thomas Gottschalk no longer bets that ... moderates?
  • In Munich there is a psychoanalytic kindergarten. Would you like to go there?
  • What is the best invention in the world?
  • What is the greatest achievement of mankind?
  • What is the best sport at the Olympic Games?
  • In your opinion, how long should a movie be in the cinema when one speaks of excess length?
  • You probably know the slogan: Raider is now called Twix. If we rename that again, what's it called?
  • How do you find it when the supervisor, together with his co-workers, makes one?
  • What is your opinion about social networks?
  • What do you think of Apple products?
  • Are you worried about the plasticizer in plastic?
  • What are your views on genetically modified foods?
  • How do you think about organic food?
  • How do you find children's playgrounds?
  • Why do you think the donkey always calls himself first?
  • In your opinion: Who should punish life?
  • What do you think, why do Chinese people eat dogs?

Teamwork and motivation

But of course you also want to know if and how your prospective employee will fit in well with your team or do a good job. We've also put together a collection of questions that will surprise many of your applicants.

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If you want to know who your potential employees are, how motivated you are or what you think about leadership, then you can get honest answers with the following provocative questions.

To give you a better overview, we sorted the questions thematically. You will find open questions as well as provocative questions or statements.

Professional questions - team skills

  • Are you the lead wolf or the sheep?
  • Who would you throw out of a team first?
  • How do you ensure that there is enough competition and elbow in the team?
  • How do you feel the laurels of a colleague for yourself?
  • Spell team ability.
  • You certainly do not feel comfortable in a pure male / female team!
  • How do you want to lead a team?
  • Who does not fit into your team at all?
  • What is the most annoying thing about you as a team member?
  • How can you be best off teamwork?
  • How long can you remain silent before volunteering for a task?
  • How long do you hold on to a team?
  • If you had to assemble a team of animals, which animals would you take into the team?
  • Team is also called: Toll ein andere macht's. How do you stand?

Professional issues - communication

  • Does that often happen to you saying something without thinking about it?
  • Do you always interfere with others?
  • Do you have such a hard time communicating clearly at work as you are now?
  • He who has nothing to say, should simply keep his mouth shut. Is this also your opinion?
  • What is completely over-rated in interpersonal communication?
  • Why are there misunderstandings?
  • How do you communicate with others?
  • What would you tell an alien about the world?
  • Are you also one of those who need to correct grammar errors in others?
  • Which dialect is difficult to bear?
  • What language is the best at?
  • What words do you think the whisperer whispers?

Vocational questions - motivation

  • Are you lazy?
  • How do you best demotivate your employees?
  • Are not we all a bit demotivated?
  • They do not make me so motivated.
  • Is not it stupid to be overmotivated and do more than you have to do?
  • Why are you only motivated by money?
  • I do not like the word motivation. Just give me a new word.
  • Would you rather be motivated or wise?
  • Do you find that motivation is overrated?
  • How could I motivate you to do something forbidden?
  • Are you sometimes motivated by fear?

Vocational issues - Work performance

  • What does it mean to you?
  • In what unit should we measure work performance? Give the unit a name.
  • What should we do with people who do not do enough?
  • This is a good job for you?
  • If you're building blocks all day, is that work for you?
  • What is your definition of service company?
  • When does someone belong to the service company?
  • What disturbs you at the service company?
  • What is not work for you?
  • Is slimming for you a work performance?
  • What was the biggest achievement of Micky Mouse?
  • How much work is involved in a love letter?
  • What can three white horses do?

Professional questions - Guide

  • Where should a leadership lead?
  • Actually, it is also without leadership, right?
  • Why do we need leadership?
  • Whom would you not follow?
  • Why follow your leadership?
  • Men / women are the better bosses. Do you agree?
  • What comic hero is the best leader?
  • What is the best way to saw your leadership in the chair?
  • You will certainly be down when your employees are trying to saw your chair.
  • What disqualifies a manager?
  • How does leadership differ from child rearing?
  • Leadership is only for those who are out for power. Do you agree?
  • In which situations is leadership harmful?


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