Field service management executives are obliged to ask the predictable questions during an interview to determine the candidate’s technical aptitude, problem-solving skills and approach to customer service. But if you want to test how quick interviewees are on their toes, or how they’d respond to an unusual problem, ask the unexpected.

Consider one of these five brilliantly offbeat interview questions that execs have thrown at candidates, in and out of the field service industry:


“If stacked on top of each other, how many quarters would it take to equal the height of the Eiffel Tower?”

Who: Thomas Osowski, Electrical Service Engineer at Air Logic Power Systems

Why: Osowski says he knew right away that the interviewer wanted to check his on-the-spot problem-solving skills with this question. Osowski’s quick-thinking and strong math skills came in handy and he “got the question right, nailed the interview, [and] was offered the job,” he wrote in the Leader LinkedIn group.


“What’s your favorite animal?”

WhoRyan Holmes, CEO of HootSuite

Why: This is an out-of-the-box question and forces candidates to get creative. Holmes’ current executive assistant’s answer: a duck, because they’re “calm on the surface and hustling like crazy getting things done under the surface.” Holmes told Inc. this was the “perfect description for the role of an executive assistant” and that a year after being hired, she is “amazing at her job.”


“Describe an orange without using the word ‘orange’.”

Who: Larry Madoski, Chief Officer at Lathrop-Manteca Fire District

Why: Madoski asked this question during an interview for an entry-level firefighter. “We wanted to know if a candidate could follow directions and think on their feet during stressful situations. This question forced the candidate to think analytically about the description of a fruit that happens to be the same color as its name,” he wrote in Field Service Leader on LinkedIn.


“If we’re sitting here a year from now celebrating what a great year it’s been for you in this role, what did we achieve together?”

Who: Randy Garutti, CEO of Shake Shack

Why: Garutti says it indicates how well the interviewee has done their homework. With this question, he’s looking for a candidate with “an eye toward that bigger-picture understanding of the company — and why he or she wants to be here,” he told Inc.


“If this interview were reversed and I was coming to your house and you were interviewing me because you had 16 different job offers to choose from, what would you be looking for from me?”

Who: Mitch Rothschild, CEO of Vitals

Why: Rothschild, who also asks candidates to “give him a tour of their life” and “what percentage of their life they control,” told Business Insider this question helps him determine a candidate’s aspirations. It’s also a good way to see how well the candidate knows the company and what would be required for them to succeed.


ABOUT Preeti Upadhyaya

Avatar photoPreeti is a multimedia journalist with expertise in technology, economics and markets reporting. Her work has been featured on Marketplace, Chicago Public Radio, MarketWatch, the Wall Street Journal and other publications. Preeti has a M.S. in advanced business reporting from Northwestern University's Medill School of Journalism.