SmartRecruiters Blog

4 Interview Prompts to Stump the Interviewee

“How many gallons of paint would it take to cover this entire city?” These types of questions stump everyone and are used to see how you think. Unless you’re a genius hiring geniuses, there’s not much direct benefit to asking these types of interview questions. But there are other ways to stump the interviewee, not just for your own amusement or what is technically called “interviewer-messing-with-people-syndrome.” Asking tough questions shows an interviewees preparation, knowledge, relevant work experience, and how they think, without asking an intangible question like, “Why are manholes round?” Here are four interview lines to stump the interviewee, with the purpose of getting a quality answer from the candidate.


“If you were an employee here, how would you…”

Stump the IntervieweeIt’s not hard for an interviewee to talk about what they’ve done and their relevant work experience. Instead of talking about their past responsibilities  turn the tables and ask them hypothetically how they would do X as an employee of your company. This does two things; it reflects how deeply they researched the company – not just the position – and gives you the chance to test drive the candidate. Instead of speculating on what they would bring to your company, this gives you a solid analysis of their abilities and thought process. Lastly, instead of hearing the hypotheticals that follow, “How many basketballs fit in this room?” you receive a thought out, genuine answer.

“Give me another example…”

A good interviewee will think of one past relevant experience that connects to each responsibility. When you ask an interviewee to “give you a time when…” after they are done explaining, ask for another example. This reveals the extent of the work experience that the candidate has. It also shows that they really had the responsibility and didn’t just plan out what scenarios they were going to bring up in advance. A great interviewee will share another example on the spot.

“Explain our product / service as quickly as you can.”

It’s surprising how many job interviewees don’t actually know what the company they are interviewing with does. This question shows if the interviewee researched the company, and not just the position. This kind of question not only makes the interviewee have to think of a whim, but also shows how concisely they can explain something.

The Implication

This one’s tricky. With the implication, you set up a scenario, then ask if the interviewee would do it. You make it seem as though it is the right thing to do, however the best answer is if they disagree and tell you why they disagree with it.


Trying to stump the interviewee in the job interview will give you tangible insights to the candidate’s ability to think critically, as well as, talk about the self and the company. When conducting a job interview, use these interview prompts to discover how the job seeker would perform as an employee of your company.

Joe Hanson

Joe strongly believes that content is king, and that consistently creating and publishing remarkable content is the best way to market a product. Former Blogging Intern at SmartRecruiters, and current Social/Content Marketing Manager at PubNub.