The search for top talent can be difficult and is often made no easier during the interview process. How do you choose questions that will elicit the information you need to select the right person for the job? We asked several industry professionals to share their favorite, nontraditional inter- view questions. Those on the job search might benefit from these insights as well.

  • “ ‘Tell me about a time when a member let you know he or she didn’t like your class. How did you handle that?’ The answer helps me see how [candidates] handle customer service issues when someone’s not looking. I always ask questions about their experiences so that [people] can’t can their response and just tell me what I want to hear.”
    —Shannon Fable, founder, Sunshine Fitness Resources, Boulder, Colorado
  • “ How would you fold the towels we have in our facility?’ We have green, red and purple towels that we use for cleaning and sweat. I also ask, ‘Would you color-coordinate the towels in piles, with only one color in each stack? Would you fold the corners to the same side?’ I know that if an interviewee reacts like, “What do you mean—we need to fold towels, too?” then [that person is] not a good fit for our facility, where everyone does everything.”
    —Inkeri Young, senior wellness director, Olean-Bradford Area YMCA, New York and Pennsylvania
  • “ ‘If you were an animal, what would you be?’ When we asked this, we didn’t care about the answer. The reason we asked it was because we wanted to see how the person acted when put off-guard (because trainers get asked a lot of silly questions). If an interviewee got flustered, rushed the answer and got awkward,
    it was a sign. If [candidates] took a second to compose themselves before answer- ing—or admitting that it was an odd question—they would likely be able to deal better with the ebb and flow of the job.”
    —Jonathon Goodman, founder and CEO, Personal Training Development Center, Toronto

What are your favorite interview questions? Send them to [email protected]