If you’ve spent any amount of time hiring people, you’ve likely run across some quirky hiring practices. As HRM spends more and more time designing selection systems and recruiting candidates, we’ve found several. Some of our favorites include:

The smile test: While a candidate is waiting in the lobby, a person is sent out to smile at the candidate. If the smile is returned, it’s a positive sign. No smile? No hire.

The quick walker test: Following the theory that motivated people walk quickly, the candidate is given a tour of the facility. If he/she can keep up with the pace of the tour guide, it’s a positive sign. If not, they aren’t motivated enough.

The clean car test: During the interview, the candidate’s car is checked for cleanliness. If it’s clean, then he/she has good organizational skills and work habits. If it’s messy, then they may not be a good fit (or they drove someone else’s car).

The ambiguous question test: These are completely non job related questions like: “Are you more like a forest or a tree?” I don’t know how to interpret these.

While we always customize the selection systems that we design, we tend to implement steps that wouldn’t be too embarrassing to explain to the EEOC. That means starting with a job profile to find out what’s necessary for the position, then finding valid ways of determining whether the candidate is a good fit. Some tools that we commonly use include:

Behavioral based interview questions – Designing customized questions to determine whether the candidate has previous experience dealing with the key aspects of the job. Did he/she do it well in the past? Can he/she articulate how those accomplishments were achieved?

Situational interview questions – Job related scenarios. Can the candidate think through a job related scenario in an interview setting, and come up with a great solution? It’s not as easy as you might think.

Job skills testing – Does the candidate have the skills to perform the tasks required for the position? Whether you’re an executive, an accountant, or a skilled trade person, there are specific job skills necessary to be successful.

Personality assessments – These are great tools as long as you are careful to measure what works in your organization, not what you think the profile of the best employee will be or a generic profile of a top candidate. Company cultures vary widely and you need to be certain that the profile you are trying to match is a great fit for your culture.

Knowing that what we’ve seen is probably just the tip of the iceberg, we’re curious to hear what quirky tests you’ve seen and what practices you utilize that work well.

We’re looking forward to hearing from you!


  1. Mark Love

    It never fails to make me laugh at the unorthodox tactics some companies will take when considering candidates for vacancies. The quick walker and clean car test are perfect examples. Does this immediate disqualify a viable candidate who has a handicap, or perhaps just twisted his knee in a weekend rugby match? Or a candidate who drove through torrential rains to keep the appointment and his car looks like it was stuck in the mud? And what happens if that car has a bumper sticker or personalized license plate from the rival of your school? What’s next?

    • Administrator


      You’re absolutely right. What if I’m driving my wife’s car or ran a marathon yesterday? Both good reasons not to hire me. Great to hear from you!

  2. Marty Compton

    A Manager that I worked with in the past used to make lunch a part of the interviewing process. During lunch one test was to see if the interviewee salted their food before tasting it. Apparently if they did they were likely to prejudge situations and were less likely to be hired. Who was really doing the prejudging?

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