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57 Innovation Interview Questions

        posted by , February 12, 2013

I don't want to be a product of my environment. I want my environment to be a product of me.
~ Frank Costello, The Departed
Innovation is about stretching beyond the known to produce something completely new.

Hopefully the new thing you produce is useful and/or aesthetically pleasing.

Innovation requires courage, intuition and thinking that extends beyond traditional measures of intelligence.

These aren't easy qualities to probe in an interview. If you can answer these questions in a compelling way — there's a good chance you've got strong innovative potential.

1. What's the best idea you've had?

2. When do your best ideas hit you?

3. Do you use a process to come up with ideas?

4. What's the greatest innovation in history?

5. What's the biggest innovation that's happened in the last year?

6. Do you prefer to collaborate on new ideas or do your best ideas come from deep thinking?

7. What was the most innovative decision you've made?

8. What was the most innovated design you've created?

9. Can you tell me about a time you took a innovative approach to solving a problem?


10. Why do facts get in the way sometimes (when you're seeking innovation)?

11. Can you entertain completely opposite ideas at the same time? Can you give me an example?

12. What is intelligence?

13. What is creativity?

14. Can you think of a new way to remove snow from a driveway?

15. Can you think of a new color? What does it look like?

16. Tell me a story about a frog and an airplane.

17. If I asked you to invent a new language, where would you start?

18. Tell me about your innovation successes in your current role.

19. Are you a believer in intuition? If so, can you give me an example of how you've used it?

20. Why do some people struggle with innovation?

21. Why do people get stuck on problems?

22. How common are truly new ideas?

23. How would you improve snow tires?

24. How do you avoid cliché ideas?

Creative Processes

25. When you're solving a problem, does the way the problem is framed matter? Why?

26. How would you build a cheap prototype of a car?

27. Do you experiment? Can you give me a example?

28. How do you balance the need to come up with something creative with the need to create something functional (useful)?

29. How can you influence someone who is thinking in a biased or static way?

30. Can you tell me about a time you inspired creativity in others?

31. Can you tell me about a time that someone helped you innovate?

32. How would you research an obscure topic if search engines didn't exist?


33. Are gut decisions dangerous?

34. How do you validate decisions?

35. Have you used an analogy to make a decision? If so, tell me about it.

36. How do you make sense of chaos? Can you give me an example?

37. What's the best decision you've made?

38. What was the bravest decision you've made?


39. Are you artistic?

40. Do you have a good sense of design?

41. What is design?

42. What is your favorite work of art or architecture?

43. Can you give me an example of a well designed product?

44. Can you give me an example of a service that's well designed?

45. What's the worst product design you can think of?

46. What's the worst service from a design perspective?

47. How do you design an experience?

48. In design, is it better to focus on the user or the use?

49. How do you test your designs?

50. What does it mean for a design to be functional?

51. Why are aesthetics important?

52. What's the wildest design you've experimented with?

Problem Solving

53. Do metaphors sometimes help to solve problems?

54. Can you give me a metaphor for a difficult job interview?

55. Does a white board help you solve problems? Can you give me an example?

56. How do you solve a problem when you're missing information?

57. Can you tell me about a problem you tried to solve but failed to find a solution?

This is part of the ongoing series of posts called how to win your next job.

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