Unusual Job Interview Techniques

Readers share unusual job interview techniques they have experienced and share tips for surviving an unorthodox job interview.

Interview With a Mad Woman!

Roger Parminter
Chicago, IL

My first interview out of college was with a firm in Chicago that offered internships with guaranteed positions for virtually all applicants. The pay was good, and the company was well respected.

The human resources person - I'll call her Dana - brought in 20 applicants on the same day, at the same time. Once all the applicants had arrived at the prescribed time and stood milling around the waiting area with freshly pressed suits, briefcases and high hopes afoot, Dana comes bursting out of her office, directs everyone to leave the building and meet her at the park across the street.

Confused, we all obliged. Dana beat us over to the park where she already had a number of "props" set up. For the next two hours, we all participated in classic "team building exercises" with other applicants (and competitors) under Dana's watchful eye. Catching tossed eggs, pretending that the grass was lava and we had to get across without touching our feet...

A surprising number of people simply refused to do it and left. Others were so bashful that they waited on the sidelines and watched the others. About ten of the original twenty applicants played along and oddly enough, we had a great time!

You sure get to know someone when you're trying to balance next to them while standing on a 2X4 board!

After it was over, everyone who stuck around and played along was hired on the spot.

Lisa's Response

Roger, I've heard a lot of job interview stories in my day, but yours is definitely at the top of the list of most unusual job interviews.

I experienced a similar job interview when I was in university (a group interview that involved doing several crazy stunts and activities), but unlike your job, mine was for a job as a summer camp counselor, so it wasn't hard to see why they were conducting the interview in that way.

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An Unusual Job Interview Technique

It was 1999 and I was interviewing for the assistant manager position at the now defunct "World of Science" toy store chain. At the interview I had mentioned that I was (at the time) a chemistry major, at which time the store manager asked me to wait a minute while she went into the store room. She emerged with a giant plastic volcano (think science fair), handed me $10, and said "I want you to go downstairs to CVS and buy the materials necessary to make this volcano erupt."

A bit stunned, I went to the store and returned with a bag full of goodies (which included alka selzer). The manager said thank you and offered me the job.

"What was the purpose of the volcano?" I asked. She replied "I have interviewed 5 people so far who claimed to be some kind of science major. The other 4 all came back and said 'The girl at the counter didn't know what would make a volcano explode'"

Moral of the story? Pay attention in college!

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Dress for the Interview

I had an interview to work as a grounds keeper for a funeral home. The job description was to pick up and clean the grave yard and surrounding area.

I went into the interview in a suit and tie. The manager was wearing overalls and dirty boots.

All of the employees were on break and hanging around the managers office. We did the interview with the door open and his staff interrupting us with silly questions. He asked me when I could start and I told him immediately. He said great, and proceeded to take me on a tour of the grounds.

The first stop was the crematory. He asked if I every saw a body burn before? After that exciting moment, we got into a dump truck and toured the rest of the grounds. He then dropped me off at the garage, told me to grab a shovel.

We went out to a tombstone and re-level it. So, here I am on my interview leveling a tombstone. Once we were done, he asked if I still wanted the job. I said yes. He said, finishing leveling the rest of this row, and then you go home and start again tomorrow!

If I knew I was going to work that day, I would have dressed for it. My advice is to bring a change of clothes to your interview. You never know what can happen.

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