7 Unpredictable Interview Questions from Experts at Yahoo, Meta, Amazon

Check out these unusual questions asked by interview experts at Amazon, Meta, Yahoo, and other top companies.

Reviewed by:
Javeria Khan
April 3, 2024
0 min read time
Nawal Malik

‘What is your greatest strength?’

‘Where do you see yourself in 5 years?’

‘What are some of your weaknesses?’

We’ve all asked these questions during interviews. The problem isn’t that they are too familiar; the problem is that candidates can see them coming from a mile away and have fine-tuned their responses. 

It’s time to shake things up. 

As recruiters and HR professionals, you aim to acquire a more comprehensive understanding of the candidate. You should ask questions that make candidates think on their feet and provide insights beyond the surface. These unusual questions might seem quirky, but they're more revealing than you might think. Companies like Amazon, Meta, and Yahoo use them for a reason.

Let’s take a look at take seven unpredictable interview questions that will help you make the best hiring decision. 

Also read: What is an AI Video interview? 

Unpredictable Interview Questions from Experts

1. “What’s a commonly accepted belief you disagree with?”

Nikhyl Singhal, VP of Product at Meta, introduces a refreshing twist to the interview process with this thought-provoking question. It’s amazing because there’s no way to answer that question without being genuinely opinionated. It's a challenge to share an opinionated perspective and then dissect why you deem it inaccurate. This question assesses the candidate’s ability to articulate an opinion, express themselves confidently, and engage in thoughtful discourse.

Here’s what an excellent candidate response might look like: 

Stellar Candidate Response:

A candidate might choose to challenge the notion that failure is inherently negative. 

They could explain how failure can provide invaluable learning experiences and opportunities for growth, showcasing their ability to analyze prevailing beliefs and offer a well-reasoned counterargument critically.

Also read: What is analytical thinking? 

2. “What are some misconceptions people have about you?”

This query steps into the realm of self-awareness. It prompts candidates to navigate their perceived image and shed light on how they’ve been misinterpreted. The focus of assessment here is a candidate’s self-awareness, interpersonal skills, and ability to reflect on their interactions with others.

Here’s what an excellent candidate response might look like: 

Stellar Candidate Response:

A candidate might mention that some people perceive them as reserved or introverted, while they are observant and enjoy engaging in deeper conversations. Candidates demonstrate self-awareness and adept communication skills by acknowledging a potential misconception and providing context, effectively challenging immediate assumptions.

Also read: What is a skill set? 

3. “What’s something you once believed but no longer do?” 

This question probes the candidate's capacity for change and adaptation. It seeks to uncover their willingness to reevaluate their beliefs over time. It gives you insight into flexibility, a growth mindset, and the ability to shift perspective based on new information or experiences.

Here’s what an excellent candidate response might look like: 

Stellar Candidate Response:

A compelling response might involve a candidate admitting they used to believe that multitasking was an effective way to manage tasks. Still, they now understand the importance of focused, single-tasking for improved productivity and concentration.

4. “How many windows are there in New York City?”

This brain teaser, borrowed from early-stage Amazon by Jonathan Becker, founder and president at Thrive Digital, isn't about getting the correct answer. It's a litmus test for quick thinking, logical prowess, and adaptability. 

After all, windows aren't confined to buildings; they're tucked into cars and trucks, too. Learn more about the candidate’s ability to think on one's feet, reason logically, and manage the unexpected.

Here’s what an excellent candidate response might look like: 

Stellar Candidate Response:

A strong candidate might approach the question by considering various factors contributing to the number of windows in New York City, such as the vast number of buildings, vehicles, and even windows in unconventional places. While there's no definitive correct answer, a well-reasoned response would showcase their ability to break down the problem and consider different facets logically.

5. “Do you consider yourself lucky?”

This question invites candidates to explore their perspective on luck and how it has influenced their lives. It delves into their mindset and attitude toward both positive and negative outcomes. Once again, it assesses self-awareness, and also humility, and the ability to acknowledge external factors in achievements and challenges.

Here’s what an excellent candidate response might look like: 

Stellar Candidate Response:

An ideal candidate might respond by acknowledging moments of luck in their life while also emphasizing the importance of hard work and seizing opportunities. This showcases a balanced perspective that combines personal effort with external circumstances.

6. “If work were optional, why would you still choose to come to work?” 

Straight from the playbook of Gautam Gupta, CEO and Co-founder of NatureBox, this query probes motivations and aspirations. It reveals whether candidates see their work as a calling rather than a chore. This gives you more insight into whether a candidate is genuinely interested in the role and has intellectual curiosity. As a bonus, you get to know if their values align with your company’s. 

Here’s what an excellent candidate response might look like: 

Stellar Candidate Response:

An exemplary response might reveal a candidate's genuine enthusiasm for making a positive impact, desire to continually learn and grow, and excitement about being part of a team that shares similar values. This would demonstrate a candidate's more profound understanding of their own motivations and the company's potential role in fulfilling them.

7. “If you had to be shipwrecked on a deserted island, but all your human needs—such as food and water—were taken care of, what two items would you want to have with you?”

This question, asked by companies like Yahoo, encourages the candidate to demonstrate creativity and innovativeness. Additionally, it helps you determine your candidate's priorities, problem-solving abilities, creativity, and logical thinking.

Stellar Candidate Response:

An excellent candidate might provide a thoughtful response that showcases their ingenuity and practicality. For instance, a candidate might suggest bringing a solar-powered communication device to stay connected and a multipurpose tool for various tasks, illustrating their logical approach to surviving and thriving on the island.

Gone are the days of generic queries that candidates can spot a mile away. 

Introducing our cutting-edge AI Interview Question Generator – an amazing tool to help you craft targeted and engaging interview questions that perfectly align with your hiring needs. With our AI-powered solution, you can swiftly generate thought-provoking questions that delve into a candidate's true potential and reveal insights beyond the surface.

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