| Interviewing job candidates becoming tedious? Up your game!
AWWA Articles

Interviewing job candidates becoming tedious? Up your game!

The proliferation of job interviews taking place in almost every workplace right now presents a unique challenge: how to make yet another question-and-answer session fresh and productive.

It goes without saying that employers and their recruiters need to stay sharp and engaged while evaluating potential new members for their staff. Yet, as one of my human resources colleagues recently admitted, it is a bit brain-numbing to participate in the same Q&A routine repeatedly.

Career Zone, Stuart Karasik, Ph.D., San Diego, Calif.When a colleague asked me for suggestions on how to keep the interview process fresh, I did some research rather than rely on the usual tried-and-true responses. I found some answers at a company that all of us associate with innovation – Apple, Inc.

We all know that Apple does not lack for job applicants and hires for a wide variety of positions, from entry-level customer service representatives to highly educated research engineers.

So, how do Apple leaders and recruiters remain engaged during routine interviews in order to select the best candidates to keep their company thriving?

The answer is surprisingly simple. As in most job interviews, the questions posed by Apple hiring managers are focused on a candidate’s education, experience and qualifications in relation to the position opening. What is different – and innovative – is the remarkably interesting questions they pose, which range from simple and vague to excruciatingly tricky mathematical calculations. 

I learned about these interview questions from various human resources publications and online platforms, and Glassdoor, the digital platform that gathers information and reviews about job openings and companies. Job applicants who have gone through Apple interviews have posted information about their unique questions.

According to my research, some of the specific questions below were used by Apple in past job interviews. Would these make your discussions with job candidates livelier?

  1. What Superhero would you be and why?
  2. Explain RAM to a five-year-old.
  3. Describe five ways to measure how much gasoline is in a car.
  4. How would you break down the cost of a pen?
  5. Are you smart?
  6. How would you test your favorite app?
  7. You’re dealing with an angry customers who has been waiting for 25 minutes and is causing a commotion. She is exclaiming that she will never go to an Apple store again and that Costco is much cheaper. How would you resolve the situation?
  8. An angry customer calls the Help Desk for assistance with his older personal computer, which is essentially a “brick.” What do you do?

I challenge you to brainstorm with your team, think outside your typical process, and consider real life situations to inject some novel questions into your interview process. This can help create an energized and insightful selection process that provides you with additional perspectives and keeps candidates on their toes. 

Stuart Karasik spent most of his career in the human resources/personnel arena. He has a Ph.D. in education, a master’s in biology, and was the training program manager for the City of San Diego. More career resources and job opportunities are available at AWWA’s Career Center and at Work for Water.