Be Careful about using “Creative” Interviewing Methods

I came across an article in Entrepreneur Magazine written by Gwen Moran, where she described 3 Unique Hiring Techniques to Find the Right Person for the Job. You often come across articles that describe these kinds of methods of finding people that are out of the “ordinary” way of interviewing. While these are interesting you just need to be careful about using these creative interviewing methods.

The three methods

Ms. Moran’s methods might appeal to many, that is why they are in Entrepreneur Magazine. Her suggestions include:

Challenge them before you say hello. Her first described unique method is based on Quixey, a California based software company that has a game on its website for potential hires, called Quixey Challenge. The candidates can register for one of the site’s challenges, which are created and run by job recruitment platform Readyforce. According to Moran “If they can fix the challenge’s programming bug in less than a minute, they win $100 and a chance to interview with the company.” A creative way for certain.

Get past the polish. Moran’s second method comes from a company that “began interviewing prospective candidates using a “rapid-fire challenge,” where four company representatives ask unusual questions in quick succession, such as: If you were a hot dog, would you eat yourself for food? What’s your favorite fish? If you were a color, what color would you be and why?” My first thought was “Really? Would you eat yourself?” However, the company president said “the unexpected rapid-fire questions have been more effective in finding good candidates than more conversational interview techniques used in the past.” Apparently they have a very quirky culture and want quirky candidates.

Play games to break the ice. The same company that asks the questions above also has the candidates play a game of Jenga with company employees. The have written interview questions on each block that are asked as the game proceeds. Supposedly it breaks the ice for that section of the interview.

A long history

There is a long history of companies that ask quirky questions. Everyone has heard of questions such as “Why are manhole covers round?” and Barbara Walters’ favorite “What kind of tree would you be?” The problem with these things is that they may not meet the standards of being both valid and reliable indicators of success and may not have the documentation to show they are job related.

Uniform Guidelines on Selection Procedures

The Uniform Guidelines on Employee Selection Procedures require that all tests used for selection be statistically proven to be both valid and reliable instruments. As the EEOC says,

“Use of tests and other selection procedures can also violate the federal anti-discrimination laws if they disproportionately exclude people in a particular group by race, sex, or another covered basis, unless the employer can justify the test or procedure under the law.”

This discrimination is called ADVERSE IMPACT. The EEOC says further “The challenged policy or practice should therefore be associated with the skills needed to perform the job successfully. In contrast to a general measurement of applicants’ or employees’ skills, the challenged policy or practice must evaluate an individual’s skills as related to the particular job in question.”

Unfortunately the methods of selection and interviewing described above often don’t have the documentation that meets the standard required by the EEOC.

“Employers should ensure that employment tests and other selection procedures are properly validated for the positions and purposes for which they are used. The test or selection procedure must be job-related and its results appropriate for the employer’s purpose. While a test vendor’s documentation supporting the validity of a test may be helpful, the employer is still responsible for ensuring that its tests are valid under UGESP.”

Be Careful about using “Creative” Interviewing Methods

So before you decide to establish and use a “unique” method of employee selection make sure you are doing all the justification to show that the resulting candidates are indeed successful and that the “test” does not result in any discrimination.

Posted in

Mike Haberman

Michael (Mike) D. Haberman, SPHR is a consultant, speaker, writer of HR Observations, and co-founder of Omega HR Solutions, Inc. After over 30 years in HR he got tired of the past and focuses here on the Future of HR. Connect with Mike.

Reader Interactions


  1. Donna Svei says

    Hi Mike,

    Thank you for writing this. I always wonder if people know about employment law regarding selection practices when they talk about their “creative” techniques. Great info!


  2. Barbara says

    This is a really timely article. I’ll be the first to admit that I don’t typically pay much attention to employment legislation. I create diverse workforces by virtue of using proven selection methodologies (see predictive validity). The use of these ‘creative’ techniques, apart from being questionable from a legal perspective, they simply don’t have the science behind them.


Newest Jobs in HR & Recruiting

The Mom Project is hiring a Team Engagement Operations Coordinator (Fremont, CA) [Click to View]

Google is hiring a Program Manager, Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion, Google Recruiting (Boulder, CO) [Click to View]

Amazon is hiring a Diversity Recruiter - Amazon Entertainment, Amazon Music (Seattle, WA) [Click to View]

My Recruiter is hiring a Human Resources Business Partner - Direct Hire (Sheboygan, WI) [Click to View]

Robert Half is hiring a Human Resources (HR) Manager (Peru, IN) [Click to View]

Pin It on Pinterest