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Are brain teasing questions worth asking?

Tricky interview questions, puzzles that have no one answer, but are designed to provoke a unique response. Are these questions even worth asking in the first place?

To help us understand, we've sketched out the two sides of this debate for you: "Who would win in a fight between Batman and Spider-man?"

Getting a unique insight into your hospitality candidate

If you ask candidates a question like "who would win in a fight between Batman and Spider-man?", the purpose is to get an insight into how they think, prioritise different information and come to a logical conclusion. In a hospitality environment, there will always be times when managers need to make on-the-spot decisions, based on two valid alternatives. If you are recruiting for a role where quick thinking is the name of the game, it can definitely be worth throwing in a question that requires the candidates to think.

Is this value overstated?

While there are many businesses swear by the value of a truly left-field interview question, many also believe that these questions don't actually add much to the recruitment process. According to research from San Francisco State University, these puzzle questions can come across as unfair and even unrelated to the position someone is applying for. What's more, the study questioned how useful these questions really were at teasing out more information about an interviewee.

Will asking a tricky question really give you a better interview?

Perhaps the best approach is to focus on what you want to get out of the interview process and why you ask certain questions in the first place. This is a good rule of thumb not just for deciding whether or not to ask a brainteaser, but also when considering drafting your entire list of questions.

If qualities like being able to think quickly on the spot are important, then asking tricky questions that test this can certainly help. Just make sure you also cover plenty of questions that are focussed on the job so you get a full picture of an applicant's qualities.