Job interview questions of the world's most successful leaders

Many CEOs pride themselves on having one or two favourite interview questions that invariably tell them everything they need to know about the candidate.

However, whilst these trusty favourites tend to become clichéd or overused, some top executives claim that their number one interview question is both original and insightful. Business Insider has compiled a list of what some of the most successful world leaders like to ask their interviewees, with some surprising results.

According to the article, Virgin CEO Richard Branson’s go-to question is: “What didn't you get a chance to include on your résumé?”

Zappo CEO Tony Hsiesh has chosen a question as bizarre and eccentric as himself, asking candidates: “On a scale of one to ten, how weird are you?” He told Business Insider that the number the applicant responds with isn’t really important, it’s how they answer the question itself.

He claimed: “If you're a one, you probably are a little bit too straight-laced for the Zappos culture. If you're a ten, you might be too psychotic for us.”

Elon Musk, CEO of Tesla, likes to push the boundaries of reality during his interviews with a riddle: “You're standing on the surface of the Earth. You walk one mile south, one mile west, and one mile north. You end up exactly where you started. Where are you?”

Apple’s 13 trickiest questions can be read here, while Facebook’s most bizarre interview questions can be seen here. Earlier this month hard job interviews were statistically linked to higher employee satisfaction

A full list of the remaining executives and their questions can be found below;

“How would you describe yourself in one word?” - Dara Richardson-Heron, CEO of YWCA

“How old were you when you had your first paying job?” - Hannah Paramore, President of Paramore

“What's your superpower ... or spirit animal?” – Ryan Holmes, CEO of HootSuite

“What is your spiritual practice?” – Oprah Winfrey

“What is your favourite quote?” - Karen Davis, Senior Vice President at Hasbro

“Can you tell me the story of your prior successes, challenges, and major responsibilities?” - Lonne Jaffe, CEO of Syncsort

“What would you do in the event of a zombie apocalypse?” - Ashley Morris, CEO of Capriotti’s Sandwich Shop

“'Walk me through your résumé, particularly why you changed from one job to the next.” - Alexa von Tobel, CEO of LearnVest

“If we're sitting here a year from now celebrating what a great 12 months it's been for you in this role, what did we achieve together?” - Randy Garutti, CEO of Shake Shack

“What motivates you to get out of bed in the morning?” - Brad Jefferson, CEO of Animoto

“What would the closest person in your life say if I asked them, 'What is the one characteristic that they totally dig about you, and the one that drives them insane?'” - Kat Cole, President of Cinnabon

“A hammer and a nail cost $1.10, and the hammer costs one dollar more than the nail. How much does the nail cost?” - Jeff Zwelling, COO of ZipRecruiter

“If you worked in a restaurant, what role would you want?” - Ajeet Singh, ThoughtSpot CEO

“If I were to say to a bunch of people who know you, 'Give me three adjectives that best describe you,' what would I hear?” - Michelle Peluso, CEO of Gilt Groupe

“Tell me something that's true, that almost nobody agrees with you on.” - Peter Thiel, President of Clarium Capital

“What was the last costume you wore?” - David Gilboa, Co-CEO of Warby Parker

“Can you tell me about a time you ran with a project from start to finish?” - Jess Levin, Chief Executive of Carats & Cake

“Can you tell me about a time when you almost gave up, how you felt about that, and what you did instead of giving up?” - Wayne Jackson, CEO of Sonatype

“What would someone who doesn't like you say about you?” - Stanley McChrystal, Founder of the McChrystal Group

“What have you invented?” - Lori Senecal, CEO of the MDC Partner Network

Comments (8)
Fri, 1 Jan 2016 3:25pm GMT
My answer to Oprahs question would be "three parts vodka against two of vermouth with ice, and shaken not stirred"
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Thu, 17 Dec 2015 2:01am GMT
Johann@ Keith
Keith, open ended questions of course never precludes a person from reviewing his past experience. What tends to happen, is that when they give a review of new solutions they offer it is always colored with past experience, but insight and wisdom becomes the major colors on the palette they use to paint with.

It also becomes interesting when they are confronted with the standard question 3 years old ask ad nauseum. Why? Why tends to take them from the new solutions they offer to explain their experiences but instead of being a history lesson, it becomes one showing how that person integrates past experience with future scenarios. It clearly shows how the person learns and builds knowledge.
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Fri, 11 Dec 2015 1:56pm GMT
Conclusive proof that CEOs shouldn't be involved in selection processes (especially if they are American!)
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Fri, 11 Dec 2015 12:25pm GMT
Elizabeth@ Johann

Research shows that, on the whole, past behaviour predicts future behaviour so that's why smart interview questions ask about the (recent) past.

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Thu, 10 Dec 2015 8:57pm GMT
Barbara Grimes @ person who lives in

If Oprah's interview question of an applicant's religion haven't caused her to lose discrimination lawsuits, why haven't they?

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