Stop Asking Campfire Questions During Your Interviews

By: Ron Bower

What’s a campfire question, you ask? Now that’s a good question! Campfire questions are those cutesy little questions managers are asking candidates at this very moment that have no place in a job interview. The questions are sometimes thought-provoking, sometimes fun, and are always perfect for you to ask when you are sitting around a campfire trying to avoid conversations about politics, religion, and COVID. They are not ok for any interviewer to ask any candidate. Ever!

You know the questions I’m talking about. The questions that your manager read on social media yesterday in an article entitled something like, “my favorite interview question I ask every candidate,” quoting some pseudo-famous person at a big-name company. In case you’ve missed these articles (I doubt it), here are a few examples I have stumbled across recently:

  • What would your best friend say they like most about you?

  • How many degrees separate the minute and hour hand of a clock at 3:15?

  • How many manhole covers are there in the United States?

  • Would you rather be rich or rather be king?

The validity of these articles is one very tiny notch above clickbait. Don’t bore me with why questions like these are interesting, show self-awareness, demonstrate how someone thinks, or reveal how they may solve a complex problem in the future. They are game-playing questions that do not give you any real insight into someone’s actual experiences, their ability to do your job, or whether they will fit into your culture. It’s stupid questions like these that lead to bad hires, employee relations issues, poor behavior, and missed performance goals.

Ask good questions. Make better hires. It’s really that simple. If you are struggling to find a solution that generates meaningful, simple, powerful interview questions, check out this tool.

Just because a question is asked by a leader at a well-known company doesn’t make their questions appropriate for your interviews. If you really feel the need to ask these questions, call up some friends, grab some s’mores and then stay up all night finding out why Uncle Fred would be a kangaroo if he were an animal. Maybe by 3 am you will finally find out that 729 basketballs will fit inside your office and if you are really lucky, by sunrise you may find out why all those manhole covers are round!