Crazy Interview Techniques

Crazy Interview Techniques

Crazy Interview Techniques

You may be starting to hire new marketing, graphic design or business development staff. Hopefully you are part of this process and get to sit in the interviews.

Or, you are a marketer, graphic designer or business developer looking for a new opportunity and are actively interviewing with firms.

Either way, there are some mundane interview techniques and then there are some crazy ones out there. The following is a list of some that I have either encountered first hand or have heard from other marketers.

Bizarre Questions

It’s hard for companies to get know the real you during a 30- or 60-minute interview period. You go through your previous experience and answer questions about your skills, but some like to go a step further to get the real you. Sometimes, they even like to challenge you a bit. Some bizarre questions I have encountered or hear of include the following.

  • What superpower would you choose to have? – Magically produce proposals at the last minute, of course!
  • Tell me a story. ­–Too vague. A story about a pursuit? A story about one of my kids?
  • What would your previous boss say about you? –Would you expect anyone to not answer this with a positive answer?
  • Teach me something about marketing in the next five minutes.

Have you heard any of these questions? Or, have you been asked any other bizarre questions? Comment below and I will add them to the list.


Many firms are now having candidates who are being seriously considered complete personality and aptitude evaluations. Evaluations such as DISC and Myers Briggs are actually quite accurate. I have taken both over the years and have found that I have a changed a bit as I moved through my career and my kids got older. I think these are good to really see how the new person may work with the team. However, if the rest of the team doesn’t complete the same evaluations, it won’t do anyone any good.

While I have seen this more in technical positions such as estimator or engineer, aptitude and IQ tests are becoming common. What is bizarre to me is why wasn’t this standard practice before?

Have you had to take a personality or aptitude evaluation as part of your interviewing process? If so, what was your experience?

Tests and Challenges

These are more in line with the aptitude and IQ tests. I have heard of marketing managers requiring potential new marketing coordinators taking InDesign, editing or writing “tests” as part of their interview process. These go beyond just bringing your portfolio to the interview, but sitting at a computer to do some routine InDesign tasks or editing a piece of technical writing.

While I haven’t personally administrated any of these or asked to take one, I think this is an excellent idea. You can take a candidate’s word they he/she knows how to use InDesign, but the level of knowledge is subjective and can differ between what you think and what he/she thinks.

Another challenge I have heard of is having a literal fire drill during the interview. Of course, this will take logistics with your building manager, but you can really see how the candidate handles a curve ball and potentially stressful situation.

Some ideas for tests or challenges you can create for your candidate can include:

  • InDesign test – Provide an InDesign document and then ask them to perform 8-10 different tasks. Those tasks can be insert a table, create a paragraph style, create a master page and then insert into the document behind page 3, and so on. The tasks can be as advanced as you need for the position the candidate is applying for.
  • Writing test – Provide unedited, raw technical writing for a resume bio or project description. Then ask the candidate to prepare the piece for use in a proposal.
  • Editing test – Provide an unedited written piece of about a page or so. Ask them to review and mark-up all errors.

Have you been asked to take any test or challenge? Have you asked your marketing candidates to take a test? Share your stories in the comments below. I will add them to our list.

Working Interviews

I have heard of one marketing manager who staged an immediate proposal deadline during the interview. She asked the candidate to help print and put together the proposal with her (this was a very small team). She made it seem like they needed to get the thing out of the door ASAP and used this as a way to see how the candidate would handle the pressure.

This was not me. I promise. Even though I think this is some merit to host a working interview, in today’s climate of talent shortage and importance of attracting and retaining great marketers I don’t think it would leave a good impression of your company.

Have you been asked to “work” during an interview? If so, what kind of impression did you get of that company?

Non-Interview Interview

We work in a very small industry. Chances are you know most of the marketers in your area. When you are looking for a new opportunity, you probably know what firms are hiring, who has moved to what new company, and who has new positions open. You also most likely either know personally or know of the hiring manager or principal in a targeted firm. What you may not know, is that in your day to day networking or volunteering, you are being interviewed!

As a marketing director who has built marketing teams at three different firms, I can tell you that every manager, principal, owner, etc. is constantly looking for great talent. We look everywhere. We look all of the time. Even though there may not be a job opening today, doesn’t mean there won’t be one in a week, a month or next year. Anyone who has any hiring responsibility, keeps a mental shortlist of potential team members in the industry.

What does this mean to you? Well, it means you should be on your A-Game all of the time. When you are volunteering on committees, at networking events, at pre-bid meetings, etc. You want to make sure that how you work at work is also how you represent yourself in the industry.

Other Crazy Interview Techniques

Have you experienced any crazy interview situations or questions? If so, share your story below.


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4 thoughts on “Crazy Interview Techniques

  1. Julie

    I once was asked “If your work ethic was on a bumper sticker, what would it say?” I can’t tell you how hard it was for me to not say “Sh!t happens”.

    1. Lindsay Post author

      I love it! I may add this to my list. I think my would be something about moving out of the fast lane to make room for me.

  2. Kim Robertson

    As a hiring manager, I don’t go with the normal interview questions (what is your strength/weakness), but instead, I like to see how they think. One of my favorite questions is asking, “are you a hunter or a gatherer?” This question isn’t meant to have a right answer (though I have my own feelings that there is a right answer), but instead, it throws the interview off course halfway through and always throws the perfectly poised person off their game. It makes them sit back, think a little, and reformulate why I am asking that question. There is a purpose to it. How do you seek information? How would you handle not getting information on time? How do you interact with coworkers (PMs, Principals, etc) who are super busy and marketing is the least of their priorities? Do you go seek the information for them or hunt them down? I seek out problem solvers and people will run into barriers all the time in this position. How do you overcome them? My interview questions are made to get in their minds and stress them out a little, but also be fun and see that I’m hiring the person, not the skills.

    1. Lindsay Post author

      I have heard that question too. What has been the most interesting response to that?

      The latest question I have asked has been, what are the current marketing trends you see for our industry. This has thrown a few people off.

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