HR Perspective: New Interview Trends

| Culture

We’ve all heard the saying “Finding a job is a full-time job.”  Interviews can be long, tedious and, at times, hard to come by.   By the end of the process, you have usually met with more people than you can count, visited the office multiple times, and are sick of talking about yourself.  The process is becoming longer and longer, leaving nothing off limits when it comes to interviewing techniques.  Companies want to know you can roll with the punches and have every intention of vetting out your thought process along the way.

When it comes to the hiring process, digital companies are trying to stay one step ahead of their competitors in a very cluttered space.  Here at Undertone, we can relate. When looking for the next member of the Undertone family, there is a thorough process in place; we want the best! We’ll discuss more about what we look for in candidates in a future post, but first let’s take a look at some of the new and exciting ways of interviewing candidates that have evolved at many companies in order to make sure new hires are the right fit for the organization’s culture:
Unexpected Interview Questions.  Everyone has at least one good story about an interview.  Over the course of your career, you’re bound to get one question that makes you think, “Umm, what?”  Some rather unexpected questions we’ve heard about include a candidate at LivingSocial being asked, “”What’s your favorite song? Perform it for us now,” and an Edelman candidate being questioned, “How often do you wash your car?” It’s important to keep in mind that there’s not a right or wrong answer to either of these questions; the interviewer just wants to see if you can think on your feet.
Weird Interview Settings. When applying for a position at Facebook, you expect to go through a long and grueling interview process.  What you don’t expect is the founder to invite you on a walk in the woods.  Last year, a select group of engineer and designer candidates skipped the traditional interview process to walk a wooded trail with Mark Zuckerberg.  It sounds as if he wanted to put them at ease and really get to the bottom of why they wanted to work at Facebook. Non-traditional interview settings can help companies get to know potential employees’ personalities and understand how they interact with others outside the four walls of the office.

Presentations. As one of the final steps in the interview process, many companies are turning to assignments or presentations to really see candidates’ skills.  These offer insights into the role, and the company gets to learn more about the potential employee’s thought process.  Here at Undertone, we tailor assignments for each role in order to help candidates better understand the day-to-day responsibilities of the job.  We have found this to be extremely beneficial, and candidates seem to appreciate what they learn during this process.

Cultural Ambassadors. Culture is key when it comes to employers in the digital space.  In order to assess if someone is a personality and cultural fit for the organization, many companies are adding one additional person to the interview process.  A cultural ambassador is someone that is less concerned with the candidate’s professional qualifications, but wants to learn about him or her personally.  We have cultural ambassadors in place for every role we hire within Undertone because we want to make sure the right people are coming through our doors.
While some of these new interview techniques and processes might come off as strange, candidates should actually view them positively, because they show that companies are putting more thought into their hiring processes.  As an interviewee, you want to be educated about the role you are applying for and trust that the company cares about your long term career prospects, your cultural fit and your overall potential within their organization.  Personally, I would find it to be somewhat of a red flag if you are only meeting with one or two people before being hired. 
So the next time you’re in an interview and someone asks, “What do you think about when you are alone in your car?”, remember to answer honestly and think about why they are asking what might seem like a silly question. 
Tell us about some “out of the box” interview techniques you’ve experienced.  Any fun or weird questions you can share? Let us know in the comments!
Sources:, “25 weirdest job interview questions of 2012”; MediaBistro, “The Weirdest Interview Questions Last Year”;  NYTimes, “A Walk in the Woods with Mark Zuckerberg”

Katie manages all internal recruitment programs in addition to recruitment across various departments including Sales Planning, Client Services, Campaign Management and Performance Analytics. Katie graduated from the University of Kansas and has been in New York for over five years.


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